The Kirinyaga gubernatorial contest lived up to its billing as a tough two- horse race between Governor Anne Waiguru of the United Democratic Alliance and Woman Rep Wangui Ngirici, who ran as an independent.
It was a gruelling duel between two political heavyweights, who are well endowed with resources. Ms Waiguru won with 113,088, while Ms Ngirici got 105,677. The other contenders were Charles Kibiru (Jubilee) Patrick Ireri, Chomba Ndau (Kadu-Asili), Bedan Kagai (Narc-Kenya), Peter Gitau (Safin) and Joseph Ndathi (TSP).
The governor was saved by Gichugu Constituency, her home turf, where she garnered 36,674 votes against Ms Ngirici’s 21,385. The 15,289 difference in votes boosted Ms Waiguru.
In Mwea Constituency, Ms Ngirici’s stronghold, she garnered 38,426 votes against Ms Waiguru’s 30,565. The winning margin was 7,862 votes. Ms Waiguru also won in Kirinyaga Central Constituency, where she got 26,023 votes against her rival’s 24,117.
In Ndia Constituency, Ms Ngirici polled 21,052 against Ms Waiguru’s 19,670.
The governor attributed her victory to overwhelming support from Gichugu residents. “Charity begins at home and that is how I won the tough battle,” she said after results were announced at Kerugoya Catholic Church, where she was joined by her husband Kamotho Waiganjo.
Kirinyaga receives Sh6 billion from the Treasury. Ms Waiguru pledged to ensure that Kianyaga and Kimbimbi are elevated to level four hospitals. She also promised to construct more markets to spur economic growth.
“We fought many forces, some that we saw and others that we didn’t. We were also being fought by the system but we sailed through. I thank Kirinyaga people for the confidence and the love they have shown me; I won’t let them down,” she said.
“I also want to thank my husband sincerely from my heart. He is the strength behind the calmness you see in me and has been there for me all through, carrying the load behind the scenes,” she added.
She thanked her campaign team and the team from UDA for keeping the party together and being committed to delivering victory.
Ms Waiguru is one of the three women governors elected in 2017. Others were Kitui’s Charity Ngilu and the late Joyce Laboso (Bomet).
Prior to her election in 2017, Ms Waiguru served as the first Cabinet Secretary for Devolution, tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the country’s shift from a centralised to a devolved system of government.
She won the 2015 United Nations Public Service Award following recognition by the Africa Association of Public Administration and Management, for ensuring efficiency in Public Service delivery.
This was by introducing Huduma Centers, the one-stop service delivery shop that has eased access to government services. She had also earlier served at the National Treasury as the Head of Governance, Head of the Economic Stimulus Programme and the Director of Integrated Financial Management System (IFMIS) between 2007 and 2012.
Ms Waiguru, an economist, has received numerous awards and was named Top Under 40 Most Influential Women in Kenya in 2011.
During her first tenure as governor, she served as the Vice Chair and also Chairperson of the Gender, Youth, Sports, Culture and Social services committee at the Council of Governors.
Her victory can be attributed to the successful implementation of a robust socio-economic development transformational program she has been implementing under the mantra of Kirinyaga Rising.