A political storm is brewing in counties as governors who lost in 2017 General Elections prepare for a comeback in the 2022 General Election to get even with those who snatched power from them.
The former governors, the Nation has established, are now assembling their political apparatus as well as reawakening campaign teams as they prepare to take a stab at the influential position that controls billions of shillings for running the counties.
First-term governors looking to retain their seats are, however, not sitting pretty. They’ve marshalled all their arsenal against their predecessors.
High stakes tussle
Out of the 47 first-term governors elected in 2013, only 22 were re-elected in what is becoming a high-stakes tussle for the county chief executive seat.
Some of the county chiefs, who lost their seats in 2017, are Evans Kidero (Nairobi), Isaac Ruto (Bomet), Kenneth Lusaka (Bungoma), Kinuthia Mbugua (Nakuru), Peter Munya (Meru), Ukur Yatani (Marsabit), William Kabogo, (Kiambu) Julius Malombe (Kitui), David Nkedianye (Kajiado), Nathif Jama (Garissa), and Jack Ranguma (Kisumu).
Others are Benjamin Cheboi (Baringo), Godana Dayo (Isiolo), Joseph Ndathi (Kirinyaga), Joshua Irungu (Laikipia), Cleophas Lagat (Nandi), Samuel Wamathai (Nyeri), John Mruttu (Taita Taveta), Samuel Ragwa (Tharaka Nithi), Moses Akaranga (Vihiga), Ahmed Abdullahi (Wajir), Simon Kachapin (West Pokot), Daniel Waithaka (Nyandarua), Issa Timamy (Lamu) and Hussein Dado (Tana River).
While most of them have announced their intentions to try and recapture their seats, others have kept their cards close to their chests. However, the activities around the counties betray their intentions.
While Mr Yatani and Mr Munya were appointed Cabinet secretaries and Mr Lusaka the Senate Speaker, Mr Mbugua was named State House comptroller.
Mr Kachapin and Mr Dado landed seats as chief administrative secretaries.
Mr Mbugua, Mr Lusaka, and Mr Kachapin are all expected to go back to their counties for the coveted governor’s seat, replicating the trend of previous State officers like Kirinyaga’s Anne Waiguru and Kitui’s Charity Ngilu, who left their CS position for the governorship seat.
Others who have announced their quest for the governor’s seat are Dr Kidero, Mr Ranguma, Mr Akaranga, Mr Ruto, Mr Cheboi, Mr Nkedianye, Mr Mruttu, and Mr Irungu.
Mr Munya and Mr Kabogo had once hinted at presidential ambitions, but they have since kept their supporters guessing whether or not they will run for the governor’s seat again.
Mr Yatani has often been at loggerheads with his successor, hinting at a possible clash in 2022.
Mr Lusaka, on the other hand, is said to be mobilising in his Bungoma backyard to oust Governor Wycliffe Wangamati, a Ford-Kenya county boss who has since fallen out with party leader Moses Wetang’ula.
In Nakuru, Mr Mbugua wants to reclaim the seat Mr Lee Kinyanjui snatched from, a seat senator Susan Kihika is also eyeing.
Abilities and capabilities
On Monday, Mr Kinyanjui welcomed his competitors to the race, saying, he’s confident he will emerge victorious.
“Every election presents an opportunity for people to present their abilities and capacities. Some succeed, others don’t. If some think they’ve better transcripts, we would want them to come, and let the best emerge,” said the governor.
Mr Ruto, the former Bomet governor and Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) leader, will seek to dislodge Dr Hillary Barchok, who took over from Dr Joyce Laboso following her death in 2019.
“There are some people moving round saying they can deliver. Ask them what they did when they were in power. 2022 will come and the people will decide. They will look at our scorecard,” Dr Barchok told a rally in Sotik recently.
Dr Kidero has announced he’s shifting base from Nairobi to Homa Bay County, taking advantage of the provision in the Constitution that does not bar a governor from attempting a second term in a county different from where they served before.
He is set for a bruising battle with ODM Chairman John Mbadi, who is also Suba South MP, area Woman Rep Gladys Wanga, and Deputy Governor Hamilton Orata, among others.
“The new Homa Bay will fully exploit the county’s tourism potential, build industries including fish processing plants and make deliberate enterprise development, which will awaken our sleeping giants,” Dr Kidero said.
Mr Ranguma is seeking to unseat Kisumu’s Anyang’ Nyong’o in 2022.
“I’m coming back to continue with the work I started. At the moment, I’m at the grassroots listening to [the] electorate on what they would want done,” Mr Ranguma told the Nation.
In Vihiga, Mr Akaranga, who is the leader of Progressive Party of Kenya, told the Nation he’s the best bet to steer the county forward.
“I’m coming back to continue where I left off because there are various things I had put in place but [Governor Wilber] Ottichilo has refused to fund those projects. I will be back to complete them, and I’ve already hit the ground running,” Mr Akaranga said Monday.
In West Pokot, Mr Kachapin is preparing a rematch against Prof John Lonyangapuo.
“I’ll be vying, but at the moment I’m still assisting the President to achieve his legacy … our people in West Pokot are suffering at the hand of Prof Lonyangapuo and I must rescue them because despite chest thumping, he has done very little in terms of development, while promoting nepotism and corruption,” Mr Kachapin said Monday.
Prof Lonyangapuo has often accused his predecessor of opposing projects he is undertaking to gain political mileage.
“There are some people who have made a habit of opposing every project due to their political stance. Why fight projects after they’ve been initiated? Where were you before the county started implementing the projects?” Prof Lonyangapuo posed.
Mr Nkedianye wants to dethrone Mr Joseph ole Lenku in Kajiado. “I’m in the race; I’m putting everything in place to beat ole Lenku, come next year, because I’ve to continue with my aspirations and ideas,” he told the Nation.
Mr Mruttu, who lost the Taita Taveta County to Granton Samboja is marshalling his political machinery, hoping to get a political lifeline in next year’s polls.
“Yes, I’ll be in the race come next year,” he said in a brief text response.
In Laikipia, Mr Irungu is leaving nothing to chance. A tough political battle pitting him against Governor Ndiritu Muriithi is already taking shape. “I’m out to [reclaim] the seat and continue with the work I initiated while in office between 2013 and 2017,” he said.
In Baringo, Mr Cheboi seeks to oust Governor Stanley Kiptis. “When the time comes, we shall respond to the wishes of the electorate,” he said.
Mr Ragwa, who was bundled out by Mr Njuki in Tharaka Nithi, is preparing to edge out Prof Kithure Kindiki as senator.