Isaac Ngugi’s nomination elicits uproar from Ruto allies, Ogiek community

Nominated Senator Isaac Ngugi

Isaac Ngugi, who has been selected by the Jubilee Party to take over from the late nominated Senator Victor Prengei.

Photo credit: Courtesy

Jubilee's nomination of Isaac Ngugi to replace the late nominated Senator Victor Prengei has sparked uproar among Nakuru leaders and the Ogiek community.

Critics are questioning the criteria used to select Mr Ngugi, who is from Nyandarua County.

Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, an ally of Deputy President William Ruto, on Friday faulted the decision and accused the ruling party of dictatorship.

He alleged that the party is punishing the Ogiek community for supporting Dr Ruto’s presidential bid.

The outspoken MP also rubbished the reason given by party secretary-general Raphael Tuju for disqualifying Peter Cheruiyot, who was proposed by Ogiek elders. Mr Tuju had cited Mr Cheruiyot’s age.

“It is quite unfortunate that the party decided to award the seat to a person from Nyandarua County. The party has told off the Ogiek’s proposal to have the minority seat reserved for them, with their sin being their support for Dr William Ruto,” Mr Ngunjiri said.

"Mr Tuju has in broad daylight deprived the community of their only representation," he added.

Other leaders who have criticised the nomination include Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui, and MPs Charity Kathambi (Njoro) and Kuria Kimani (Molo).

Governor Kinyanjui, in a press statement, said the Ogiek community had been shortchanged.

"The Jubilee Party replacement of the late Senator Victor Prengei with Isaac Ngugi from Nyandarua is unfortunate. To deprive the marginalised, poor Ogiek of the only representation they had is a cruel and regrettable gesture,” he said.

“While we may not be the decision-makers in Jubilee, it is clear that consultation and stakeholder engagement has been deleted from the party constitution."

He added: "We are tired of witnessing the continued reckless actions by a few people, who have personalised the management of the party that belongs to its members. But in the meantime, we respect your decision but assure you that we shall revisit soon. It is clear that our failures are also largely internal, perpetrated by a small clique that will not face the electorate."

'Slap in the face'

Among the Ogiek leaders who are up in arms are Joseph Towett, an elder who yesterday said they had been shortchanged.

"We had sent at least eleven names of young men and women from the Ogiek community with degrees from various universities. The Jubilee Party made a big mistake by picking a person from Nyandarua to replace Mr Prengei, who was from Nakuru," he said.

Local youth leader Alexander Kisioi Tanki also criticised the nomination of Mr Ngugi.

"As youth from the Ogiek community who are educated and qualified for the position, we feel shortchanged. We are not happy because it is like we are all viewed as being anti-government. This is very unfortunate," he said.

Leaders and members of the community now want the nomination revoked.

'Playing politics'

"It is a slap in the face of the Ogiek community. We want representation and empowerment of the community through education. The only leader we had was Prengei. Now we do not have anyone," Mr Tanki said.

But former Naivasha MP John Mututho defended the party, saying that the nomination was in order. He said Mr Ngugi's qualifications placed him at an advantage compared with other proposed candidates.

He said critics of the nomination are playing politics with the issue.

“It is important to give credit where it is due. The Jubilee Party needs people who are dedicated and able to move the government’s agenda. It should not be taken as a community affair,” he said.
Jubilee settled on Mr Ngugi to replace Prengei on Thursday.

Explaining the choice, Mr Tuju said that Mr Cheruyoit, the party’s Nakuru secretary-general, who is from the Ogiek community, was among the frontrunners to replace Mr Prengei but he was found to be above the age of 35.

"The party needed someone who is below 35 years old to replace the late Prengei, who represented the youth in the Senate. Unfortunately, Mr Cheruyoit is above 35...We, however, promoted Mr Cheruyoit to be a senior director at the Jubilee Party headquarters," Mr Tuju said.

On Friday the electoral agency IEBC gazetted Mr Ngugi as Mr Prengei's replacement.

Mr Ngugi has a political science degree from the University of Nairobi and is studying for a master’s degree in strategic management at United States International University-Africa.

Senator Prengei, 37, died in a grisly car crash on the Nakuru-Kabarak road last month.

He made history as the Ogiek community's first legislator.

Ogiek leaders and elders have been divided over their choice of Prengei’s replacement.

The names of nominees submitted to the Jubilee Party include:

Daniel Kiptoo Tango (Baringo)
Johh Lengoisa Samorai (Eastern Mau, Nakuru)
Laban Kiprotich (Mount Elgon)
Lawrence Kipkemoi (Western Mau)
Mopel Sena (Narok)
Protus Kimeli (Nandi)
James Sangida (Nakuru)
Peter Cheruyoit (Nakuru)
Donald Kipkoech (Eastern Mau)
Linus Kipkogei (Nandi)

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