10 December 2018

Kenya: Lobbying Starts Ahead of Governors' Council Elections

Intense lobbying is underway as county bosses prepare to elect a new Council of Governors chairman.

The incumbent, Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok, whose first term is nearing its end, has also thrown his hat in the ring bidding for a second and final term.

The Nation has established that governors will try to reach a consensus and root for a negotiated deal to pick Mr Nanok's successor to avoid splitting the 47-member body along party and regional lines through a fractious election.

But factional wars are said to have already rocked the forum over the impending elections, even as other interested candidates are at liberty to vie for the position. Two other positions up for grabs are the whip and vice-chairmanship.

Until last Thursday, the election had been slated for next Friday, but a CoG secretariat source confirmed the polls have now been pushed to January 2019.

Reasons for the postponement could not be immediately established.

HOPEFULS

The post created by the Intergovernmental Relations Act (2012) to oversee the activities of the governors, has increasingly emerged as politically influential over the last two years.

The Nation has learnt that five governors have locked horns in the race for the top leadership post.

Mr Nanok, his deputy Anne Waiguru of Kirinyaga and Kitui's Charity Ngilu are all front runners for the chairmanship. Jubilee enjoys numerical strength in CoG after winning most of the gubernatorial seats.

Apart from Ms Waiguru, the Nation established that senior Jubilee officials are planning to front either Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago or his Bomet counterpart Joyce Laboso for the position.

Mr Mandago had last year made a surprise entry into the race for the post but later withdrew.

CoG sources said it was not immediately clear whether the Opposition would take a common position in the CoG elections and decide on whether to front any of its governors for the top post.

2022 AGENDA

But Kisumu's Anyang Nyong'o and Kakamega's Wycliffe Oparanya have also featured as possible candidates. A governor from the North rift region said the coming elections will be interplay of regional interests and 2022 politics.

"Mr Nanok has been tough and, although not very combative, is seen as well-meaning in advocating for counties' rights. Governor Waiguru, on the other hand, is dominating and may not augur well in the 2022 politics," the county boss said.

Ms Waiguru - who attended the just concluded county executives' conference in Nairobi - declined to comment on the upcoming elections.

The chairman's position is prestigious and comes with all the trappings of power as it influences most of the decisions made in the counties.

Also, the CoG chairman is entitled to using a helicopter among other privileges.

The new chairman will take over at a defining moment when counties are pressing for timely disbursement and increased allocation of funds.

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