Ruto’s close allies in tight race for Bomet senate seat
As the United Democratic (UDA) party nominations draw closer, the race for the Bomet senatorial seat has narrowed down to three of Deputy President William Ruto’s allies.
Incumbent Christopher Langat, Nominated MP Wilson Sossion and Nairobi-based lawyer Hillary Sigei are expected to square it out in what is shaping up as a tight race.
The trio not only have impressive career backgrounds but are also perceived to be close to the party leadership. Additionally, each of them is said to enjoy sizeable following in their home sub-counties.
Senator Langat, a former university don, is one of the vocal legislators from the region and was the chair of the influential Senate Education committee before he and other Ruto allied legislators were stripped of their parliamentary leadership positions.
He has also been a fierce critic of President Uhuru Kenyatta since the Head of State fell out with his deputy.
Like his Kericho counterpart Aaron Cheruiyot, Langat was expected to face little challenge in his re-election bid until other suitors threw their hats in the ring late last year.
The entry of Sossion, a decorated trade unionist, came as a surprise considering that the Nominated MP has been a keen supporter and bosom friend of ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Before joining UDA, Sossion had been a supporter of the Handshake between Uhuru and Raila.
He was also a sharp critic of Ruto’s faction of Jubilee and its bottom up economic model.
On several occasions, he rubbished the model arguing that the country cannot churn out graduates who will end up doing menial jobs, as supposedly envisioned in the slogan ‘Kazi ni Kazi’ and the wheelbarrow symbol.
But Sossion is now one of the leading crusaders of the model.
With the trio showing equal chances of clinching the ticket, focus is on the April primaries.
While the Deputy President has made it clear that he has no preferred candidate for any seat, each of them, albeit quietly, claims to be the party leader’s favourite.
Tough he joined late, Sossion has seamlessly transitioned into a national figure in UDA politics and has been attending Kenya Kwanza rallies across the country.
While the former Kenya National Union of Teachers secretary general has been accusing Langat of under-performance, the senator loses no opportunity to remind residents that Sossion had publicly backed the handshake the Building Bridges Initiative which Ruto’s camp opposed.
Lang’at even accuses Sossion of being a mole merely taking advantage of UDA popularity in Bomet while working for Azimio la Umoja.
“He is a wolf in a sheep skin only out to win the seat but in the real sense he is fully in ODM party hence should be ignored. When we were trying hard to repulse the BBI wave in the region, this man was all out popularising it,” said Langat during a past event.
Langat further claims that Sossion, while serving as Knut boss, was compromised owing to his association with ODM so much that he lost in the fight for teachers’ welfare.
The incumbent has further accused Sossion of insincerity and hypocrisy.
As the Sossion-Langat duel rages, Sigei, a young advocate who was seen as underdog, is said to be gaining ground.
A close ally to top UDA leadership, Sigei has considerable backing in the populous Sotik sub-county where he comes from.
He has chosen to conduct ground campaigns meeting people in their villages while presenting himself as an alternative to Langat and Sossion.
Sigei has also avoided attacks on his opponents, arguing that the Senate needs legal heads who can help draft legislations that can protect devolution.
“Most of the leaders you find in the Senate are lawyers. I squarely fit there,” he said at a political rally in Sotik.