Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika speaks to Nation.Africa on her strategy towards winning Nakuru governor’s seat and her future plans for the county.
Q: What drives you to go for governor seat?
The desire to provide better leadership for my great county of Nakuru. As a leader who has had a run both at the county government level as the first Nakuru County Assembly Speaker and also at the national level as the devolved unit’s senator, I feel uniquely qualified to now lead the transformation of the county by providing better leadership, better service delivery and prudent and better management of its resources as governor.
Q: Do you think you are able to deliver if elected governor?
I have a great understanding of the challenges facing the county, having worked with MCAs in all the 55 wards of the county as their Speaker and understood what their challenges are.
Q: What’s your agenda for the people of Nakuru?
As governor I would address the challenges of Healthcare in the county including the medics, availability of drugs.
I will ensure the provision of clean water across the county, address the incessant challenge of youth unemployment, the very high cost of doing business in the county as well as create a friendly business environment for industrialisation.
I will also work on solving the challenges facing our farmers who are the backbone of our economy by providing cheaper or subsidised fertilisers, superior seeds and helping farmers find markets. I will focus on value addition and invest in good field extension officers while setting up buying centers, storage facilities.
There is a lot to be done. I am up to the task as I seek to change lives and incorporate the bottom-up economic model which will lead to eradication of poverty in the county.
Q: What are your future plans? Do you intend to scale up the ladder (say to the position of president) in case you are elected as governor for two terms?
Yes. I believe I am qualified and would make a great president. At this point in time, my interest is in being the governor for the great County of Nakuru. If you have followed my career trajectory, I move up progressively and don’t believe in running for positions just to make a statement. I am ripe for governorship! In ten years or so, we may have this conversation.
Q: Why do you think that despite the gender gains, female leaders aren’t eying the presidency and are comfortable with playing second fiddle to presidential aspirants?
Many factors go into play when it comes to women leaders. One, the cost of running a successful presidential campaign is expensive. This eliminates a lot of the women from running for that seat. But Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu and Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua gave it a good run, they are our trail blazers.
Second, we still have a very patriarchal society. Many people perceive the presidency to be for the male leaders, but over time, we are slowly breaking down this way of thinking and as we get more women elected, it becomes easier for the women to make more successful bids for the presidency.
Third, women leaders do not have the networks that male leaders seem to have, this makes it more difficult to put together a successful presidential campaign.
Q: Do you think women have low self-esteem in regards to aiming at top positions?
Many women don’t want to be subjected to the heavy demands required of such a gruesome campaign. I also think sometimes women lack the same confidence in our abilities that even the less qualified men tend to have. There are probably many women who would be qualified to run for the highest seats in the land, and perhaps even win but we sometimes doubt ourselves, leading to very few women offering themselves for these seats.