Stop faulting our bids, independents tell Rigathi Gachagua

Deputy President William Ruto's running mate Rigathi Gachagua (Left) having a jig with Baringo County gubernatorial UDA party nominee- former Governor Benjamin Cheboi during the Kenya Kwanza county economic forum at Kabarnet show grounds on May 26.

Photo credit: Florah Koech | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Mr Gachagua said independent candidates are very selfish people who are pushing for their own interests and have no policies.
  • He said politicians who remain loyal to UDA even after losing in the party primaries will be rewarded with government jobs.
  • However, independents in the county say they support DP Ruto’s presidential bid and urged his running mate to stop the attacks.

Some politicians in Baringo County who ditched the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party to contest for various seats as independents after losing in the April nominations have criticised Deputy President William Ruto’s running mate Rigathi Gachagua for pushing them to withdraw from the race to support party candidates.

During the Kenya Kwanza economic forum for Baringo County last week, Mr Gachagua warned the ‘rebels’ that they should not expect any assistance from the DP if they lose in the General Election.

“Independent candidates are very selfish people who are pushing for their own interests and have no policies,” Mr Gachagua said at the forum held at the Kabarnet show grounds on Thursday. 

“We are with all party nominees from Baringo County. Have you seen independent candidates here? They do not even know what we discussed in this forum.”

Responding to Mr Gachagua, the aggrieved independents said Kenya Kwanza was an alliance bringing together different parties, including independent candidates who support DP Ruto’s presidential bid and urged him to stop the attacks.

Eldama Ravine MP Moses Lessonet, one of the independents in Baringo County who is eyeing the governor’s seat, said he was not interested in seeking favours from a party and only cared about the interests of the people of Baringo.

Mr Gachagua had indicated that in appointments to the county or national governments, priority would be given to those who lost in primaries and remained loyal to the party despite the outcome.

“When you lose in the General Election, don’t come back to us again begging for assistance because the doors will be closed,” he said.

“We will give ears to those who are loyal to the party. The right time for them to engage the DP is now but if they defy the party and lose in the elections, they will be on their own. The governor is a qualified man and we can get something for him to do in the national government, same as the MP.”

When Mr Lessonet unveiled his running mate on Saturday at the Kabarnet Museum, he stated that the region was grappling with a myriad of challenges, including high poverty levels, food insecurity and runaway insecurity.

“I heard some people saying I should withdraw from the race and support a UDA party nominee so that I will be ‘taken care of’ after the polls,” he said. 

“I want to tell whoever said so that we have children in Baringo County who have not reported to school for lack of school fees and other challenges. That is among the problems we need to sort out, not seeking appointments for political leaders.”

He said that those advocating for six-piece voting in the Rift Valley were not genuine but enemies of the DP, “because such narratives cannot be sold to the minority Pokot and Ilchamus communities in Tiaty and Baringo South constituencies”.

“We will traverse all the constituencies seeking votes for the Kenya Kwanza presidential candidates, though we are vying on independent tickets. We do not mind who they will vote for in these other elective positions, so long as Ruto gets enough votes for him to be the fifth President of this republic,” He added.

Mr Lessonet ditched UDA after losing in the April primaries, which he claimed were marred by irregularities.

Former Baringo Governor Benjamin Cheboi garnered 45, 666 votes against Mr Lessonet’s 30,588, Governor Stanley Kiptis’ 25,976, former wildlife principal secretary Fred Segor’s 16, 362 and Robert Chelagat’s 6,056.

Mr Lessonet will face off with Mr Kiptis, who is also vying on an independent ticket, and Mr Cheboi, the UDA nominee.

Former Baringo Central MP Sammy Mwaita, an independent candidate, has also waded into the debate, insisting that he will not shelve his political ambitions but would rally behind the DP.

The former legislator was also defeated in the UDA primaries, prompting him to ditch the party to contest as an independent.

After being cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on Sunday to vie for the seat, he affirmed that he will not bolt out of the race in the name of being rewarded with appointments.

“I want to tell my good friend Gachagua that I have already been cleared by IEBC and I am now hitting the ground to campaign. In any case, Ruto had told us to rally votes for him but vote in any candidate for the other elective seats,” he said.

“There are many independent candidates in the country and the DP requires votes from all Kenyans, including us (independents), and that is why the UDA has signed the pre-election coalition agreement with several parties.”

Mr Gachagua had appealed to Governor Kiptis, MP Lessonet and Mr Mwaita to withdraw from the race and join the winning team if they wanted to keep their political dreams alive.

“I am making a humble request to Governor Kiptis, Lessonet and Mwaita to join the bandwagon which will form the next government. There is no need to struggle yet the will of the people won during the primaries,” he said.

He warned locals not to complicate the politics of the DP in Baringo County by electing an independent candidate for the top seat, saying it would be unfair and unreasonable and would not be seen as a good example by supporters in Mt Kenya.

“It will be sad that those people who are going against Ruto are his own people from the Rift Valley region. It will be very disappointing to say the least. The government is big to accommodate all of us, you can serve in other positions outside that seat you were eyeing,” he said.