Ruto bags five North Rift governor seats as Turkana, Trans Nzoia elude him

Trans Nzoia governor-elect George Natembeya

Trans Nzoia governor-elect George Natembeya of DAP-K (centre) receives his election certificate after being officially declared winner in the August 9, 2022 elections. Mr Natembeya managed to beat the UDA wave in the North Rift.

Photo credit: Gerald Bwisa | Nation Media Group

Deputy President William Ruto bagged five out of the seven gubernatorial seats in the North Rift, with Trans Nzoia and Turkana seats going to the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya fold.

In Turkana, outgoing Governor Josphat Nanok failed to deliver the seat to United Democratic Alliance (UDA), with Jeremiah Lomorukai of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) bagging 66,631 votes to beat UDA candidate John Lodepe Nakara who polled 33,639.

In third position was former Cabinet secretary John Munyes who vied on a Jubilee ticket and managed 41,866 votes while Joseph Atol of Mabadiliko Party was last with 1,352 votes.

Koti Moja

In the DP's Uasin Gishu's backyard, after more than 20 years of trying his luck in elective politics, Jonathan Bii alias Koti Moja was 4am Friday declared winner of the gubernatorial seat.

This is after he garnered 214,036 votes against 127,013 votes of his main challenger Zedekiah Bundotich alias Buzeki who vied as an independent candidate.

Mr Bii has previously made unsuccessful attempts on the Soy parliamentary seat on a Kanu ticket. Things seem to have favoured him after dumping the independence party to join UDA on whose ticket he sailed into his first elective position.

Mr Buzeki was making his second attempt at the county's top seat after losing to outgoing Governor Jackson Mandago in the 2017 election.

Mr Bii plunged into politics in 1997 to contest against Mr William Ruto —now deputy president and the Kenya Kwanza presidential flagbearer — for the Eldoret North parliamentary seat but lost the race.

Luck not on his side

The determined politician was on it again in subsequent general elections before the constituency was split into Soy and Turbo in 2013, but still, luck was not on his side. He was at it again in 2017 on a Kanu ticket when he lost to Mr Caleb Kositany.

Despite the disappointing defeats, Mr Bii took a bold step and plunged into the race to succeed Governor Mandago for the top seat in the cosmopolitan Uasin Gishu County in this year’s General Election.

The name Koti Moja was meant to be a derogatory term by his opponents who sought to disparage him as someone with no means, claiming that he had only one coat. But this seemed to work to his favour.

“I took the name and owned it and, fortunately, it resonated well with the electorate and my manifesto,” said Mr Bii in an interview prior to being declared the gubernatorial winner.

UDA primaries

During the UDA primaries in April, he garnered 71,152 votes against his close competitor Julius Bitok who scored 59,001 votes to secure the ticket that would finally usher him into an elective office.

In Baringo, former governor Benjamin Cheboi, vying on a UDA ticket, bagged 137,486 votes to send home the incumbent Governor Stanley Kiptis who got 17,646 votes, while Moses Lessonet got 60,879 votes.

In Elgeyo Marakwet, Deputy Governor Wisley Rotich will be stepping into the shoes of his boss Alex Tolgos at the age of 34 after being declared the winner in the gubernatorial.

It was no mean victory for the former banker, considering that he had only assembled a modest campaign machinery compared to his rivals.

Many had dismissed him as an underdog when it came to age and experience.

In Nandi County, Governor Stephen Sang retained his seat after defeating all five independent opponents in another expected UDA win in the Rift Valley region.

County Returning Officer Sylas Rotich declared Mr Sang the winner after bagging 237,045 votes, with former governor Cleophas Lagat, an independent candidate, managing 55,375 votes.

Governor Sang put up a spirited campaign against independent candidates, saying they were working for Azimio la Umoja’s Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta to deny DP Ruto a chance to win the presidency.

‘Traitors’

He told voters in Nandi that the candidates were “traitors” out to ensure the DP was frustrated by the Kenyatta administration, working with Mr Odinga. His approach had scared off independents. Whenever they tried to campaign, voters would shout them down as enemies within.

Mr Sang further endeared himself to voters using every avenue, including vernacular radio stations, where he made several appearances defending Dr Ruto.

He even managed to get the DP to visit Nandi for four days of political meetings in one week.

Disowned independent candidates

Dr Ruto disowned the independent candidates, telling the Nandi community that non-UDA candidates were being used by President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga to deny him a chance to become president.

In West Pokot, Governor Simon Kachapin has reclaimed the seat after being out in the cold for five years.

The former Sports Chief Administrative Secretary beat outgoing Governor John Lonyangapuo of Kenya Union Party (KUP) in a battle of titans, bagging 86,476 votes against Prof Lonyangapuo's 84,610 votes.

The gubernatorial results were announced after 48 hours of tension between police and supporters of the two sides, following a standoff on the results, with each side claiming victory. Supporters of both Mr Kachapin and Prof Lonyangapuo engaged in running battles with the police.

Prof Lonyangapuo has since conceded defeat.

In Trans Nzoia, former government administrator George Natembeya (DAP-K) delivered the gubernatorial seat to Azimio la Umoja after trouncing Kenya Kwanza's point man Chris Wamalwa (Ford Kenya) by a wide margin.

The former Rift Valley regional commissioner got 158,919 votes against Mr Wamalwa's 79,020 votes.

This ends a fierce battle between Azimio and Kenya Kwanza for the Trans Nzoia seat, after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) completed vote tallying and declared the results in four elective seats on Friday morning.

Mr Wamalwa, the outgoing Kiminini MP, conceded defeat and congratulated Mr Natembeya hours before the results were officially declared by the county returning officer.

In a tweet, Mr Wamalwa acknowledged that he had lost the race.

"The elections are now over and the results are out. I have not been successful in my quest to be the second governor of our great county," he wrote on Twitter.

Trans Nzoia had 398,981 registered voters and only 249,220 cast their ballots. Some 3,594 ballots were rejected.

County IEBC Election Manager John Cox Lorionokou put the voter turnout in the county at 62.46 per cent.


By Barnabas Bii, Fred Kibor, Gerald Bwisa, Tom Matoke, Florah Koech and Oscar Kakai

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