Outgoing governors humiliated in bids to remain in politics

Outgoing Governors

Outgoing governors Martin Wambora (Embu), Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet), Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia) and Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni).

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Voters across the country rejected a majority of the retiring governors who sought other elective positions upon the expiry of their terms.

Of the six that were competing in the August 9 elections, only two were elected signalling to a rejection of the outgoing county chiefs by the electorate.

“The simple reason is that people were tired with them. They did not impress the voters. They did not give people enough reason why they should be given an extension in another form. The reverse is that their opponents were better candidates,” said Prof Macharia Munene of the United States International University.

“The reputation they built when they were governors some of it was not the best. And voters have memories,” he added.

Besides the reputational challenges, the choice of party also played a role such as in the case of outgoing Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos who was hoping to shift to the senate when his term as governor ends.

Mr Tolgos had stuck with Jubilee Party when the Rift Valley region had moved to the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) led by Deputy President William Ruto. His run against the tide was made worse when he got immersed in campaigning for the Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga in a region that has solidly voted for Mr Ruto.

In Busia County, outgoing governor Sospeter Ojaamong was humbled by the electorate in Teso South Constituency where he was seeking to extend his stay in elective politics. Instead, he could only manage a third place in a race won by former MP Mary Emase of UDA and incumbent Geoffrey Omuse, an independent.

A day after the elections, Mr Ojaamong declared that “elections are over” but did not concede outright.

“To my family, friends, team and campaigners, thank you for the unwavering support during my reign and campaign period,” said Mr Ojaamong. 

A similar fate befell Prof Kivutha Kibwana, the outgoing governor of Makueni, also failed in his bid to become a senator. Despite the many praises he has received in the manner he run the affairs of the county, the Wiper wave in Lower Eastern became too strong for him. Wiper’s Dan Maanzo was projected to carry the day and represent Makueni County in the Senate.

In Embu County, outgoing governor Martin Wambora who also chairs the Council of Governors was humiliated by voters as he emerged fifth in the race won by UDA’s Alexander Munyi Mundigi.

Mr Wambora’s 10 years at the helm of the county administration had been full of drama as he holds the distinction of having been impeached twice and only being saved by the courts.

According to Prof Munene, Mr Wambora’s reputation had been damaged long before and the voters decided that they could not trust him to represent them in the senate.

“In Mount Kenya this was a revolt against the establishment and Wambora is seen as part of that establishment whatever it means,” said Prof Munene.

The only outgoing governors who won elections for other seats are Jackson Mandago and Ali Roba who will now represent Uasin Gishu and Mandera counties respectively in the senate.