Will it be better for returning 7 pioneer county chiefs?
At least six pioneer and inaugural governors, who lost their seats after serving for one term in the 2017 General Election, have made a political comeback after a five-year hiatus, in a battle that saw 14 others fail to recapture their seats.
Riding on the political waves of the two main formations — Azimio-One Kenya and Kenya Kwanza Alliance — the former governors managed to unseat their successors, with many other incumbents now licking their wounds.
Among those who have made a comeback are Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka, who served as the pioneer Bungoma Governor, Ahmed Abdullahi Jiir and Julius Malombe, who recaptured the Wajir and Kitui governor seats, respectively.
They both served as inaugural county chiefs between 2013-2017, before losing their seats. Lusaka, running on a Ford Kenya ticket under Kenya Kwanza Alliance, unseated Governor Wycliffe Wangamati, who was defending his seat on a Democratic Action of Kenya (DAP-K) ticket of Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition.
Speaker Lusaka scored 241,695 votes against Governor Wangamati’s 137,378.
“I accept with humility the confidence the people of Bungoma have demonstrated in me by electing me as their governor,” Lusaka said in his speech on Friday.
On his part, Abdullahi alias Jiir, running on the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ticket, recaptured the governor seat he lost to Mohamed Abdi Mohamud, who announced his withdrawal from the race five days to the General Election. He rallied behind ANC candidate Ugas Sheikh Mohammed.
“I want to congratulate my worthy opponents who have put up a very good show in this race and I also want to assure the people of Wajir that I will work tirelessly to restore their hope and do what is right for them. Inshallah,” Jiir said in his speech.
Nathif Jama of Raila Odinga’s ODM has also made a comeback as Garissa governor; a seat he lost in 2017 to Jubilee’s Ali Korane, who has now been dethroned.
It was also sweet revenge for immediate Sports Education Chief Administrative Secretary Simon Kachapin, who served as West Pokot Governor between 2013-2017, as he ousted John Lonyangapuo. Kachapin was running on a United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party ticket while Lonyangapuo flew the Kenya Union Party (KUP) flag.
“I thank all West Pokot people for giving me this chance to serve them. May God grant you His favour,” said Kachapin.
Ex-Baringo governor and former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb), Benjamin Cheboi also bounced back, defeating incumbent Governor Stanley Kiptis.
Kiptis, a former Kenya National Union of Teachers Eldama Ravine branch secretary-general, succeeded Cheboi in 2017 after he trounced him in Jubilee Party primaries.
“Thank you, Baringo people, for the rare chance you gave me to serve as governor for the period between 2017 and 2022. You have spoken and, as a team, we oblige,” reads part of his Facebook statement.
In Lamu County, ex-governor Issa Timamy made a dramatic return, trouncing incumbent Fahim Twaha, who was running on a Jubilee Party ticket.
Speaking shortly after receiving the IEBC election certificate, Timamy thanked Lamu voters for electing him and ensuring he recaptured the seat he lost five years ago.
Ex-Kitui governor Malombe also recaptured the seat he lost in the 2017 elections. He garnered 198,004 votes to defeat his main rival, former Kitui Senator David Musila, who managed 117,606 votes.
However, ex-county chiefs Hussein Dado (Tana River), David Nkedianye (Kajiado), Isaac Ruto (Bomet), John Mruttu (Taita-Taveta) and Cleophas Langat (Nandi) failed to unseat the incumbents.
Others who failed to make a comeback include William Kabogo (Kiambu), Joseph Ndathi (Kirinyaga), and Godana Doyo.
Doyo lost to Nairobi County Assembly Majority Leader Abdi Hassan Guyo of Jubilee after garnering 28,926 votes.
This even as eight others successfully defended their seats. They include Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri), Mohamud Ali (Marsabit), Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu), Amos Nyaribo (Nyamira), Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka-Nithi), Stephen Sang’ (Nandi), Joseph ole Lenku (Kajiado), Wilberforce Otichillo (Vihiga), and Hillary Barchok (Bomet).
Nyamira Governor Amos Nyaribo of UPA was re-elected after polling 82,090 votes, while his closest opponent, Walter Nyambati of UDA, garnered 49,281 votes.
In Kajiado County, Governor ole Lenku of ODM was re-elected with 117,600 votes, while rivals Katoo ole Metito of UDA got 111,725 and David Nkedianye (Jubilee) was third with 75,337 votes.
Stephen Kipyego Sang of UDA won Nandi County Governor seat with 237,409 votes, beating former Governor Cleophas Langat ( 54,375) on an independent ticket.
It was a bad day for Kiraitu Murungi (Meru), Patrick Wangamati (Bungoma), Nderitu Muriithi (Laikipia), Ali Korane (Garissa), Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua), and James Nyoro (Kiambu), who all lost their seats.
Governor Murungi was trounced in a tight race that saw Meru Woman Rep Kawira Mwangaza emerge as the winner.
Ms Mwangaza garnered 209,148 votes against her closest challenger, Senator Mithika Linturi (183,859 votes), while Murungi came last with 110,814 votes.
Others who fell by the wayside include Ndiritu Muriithi (Laikipia), John Lonyanguo (West Pokot), Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru), Stanley Kiptis (Baringo), Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta), and Fahim Twaha (Lamu)
Governor Muriithi was trounced by his predecessor Joshua Irungu. Muriithi, the chairperson of Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya campaign board, had 48,812 votes.
Irungu, the county’s first governor at the inception of devolution, received 113,830 votes. Muriithi was defending his seat via President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party, while Irungu ran under the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), which is led by Deputy President William Ruto.
Meanwhile, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu and her Wajir counterpart Mohamed Abdi Mohamed opted out of the race at the last minute to back selected rivals.