Seasoned and high profile candidates are lined up for the Nandi gubernatorial race. As the battle hots up, it is evident that the County is fast becoming a political hotbed ahead of the August General Election.
In the larger Rift Valley region, Nandi with nine aspirants leads in the number of gubernatorial aspirants presented to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) seeking Jubilee Party (JP) ticket — making it the most competitive post.
The race for the Jubilee ticket is crowded due to widespread belief that whoever clinches the ticket is likely to be the next Governor.
The aspirants include former long serving Minister Henry Kosgey, a former ODM national Chairman.
Kosgey, a veteran politician — and who was among the Ocampo Six — will face former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei,
Governor Cleophas Lagat, Senator Stephen Sang, Mr Silas Kipruto, sole female candidate Dr Yulita Mitei, Alphonze Misoi, Barnabas Sang and Peter Maiyo.
Then there is the youthful aspirant Engineer Anderson Serem who initially campaigned under Jubilee — but who has resolved to contest as an Independent candidate.
Another youthful aspirant, Nicholas Tirop Koech, has also declared he will be on the ballot on an independent ticket.
Henry Kosgey’s bid received a boost after Dr Alfred Serem recently announced his decision to step down from the race in favour of the former Cabinet Minister.
“This is comes with the understanding that there is power in numbers. I have therefore decided to relinquish my quest for Nandi County gubernatorial race and support Hon Henry Kosgey because I know he means well for the people of Nandi. He has the capacity to deliver on devolved functions as per the expectations of the Kenyan constitution,” said Serem in a press statement.
Political rivalry between Henry Kosgey and Sang has been rekindled by the Senator’s decision to gun for the governor’s seat.
The two were in competition for the Senate in the 2013 General Elections when Sang, then a greenhorn in politics, swept away Kosgey — riding through the then URP wave in the region. Kosgey had contested on an ODM ticket.
The JP nomination will therefor play out as a ‘return match’ for the two as they compete alongside the rest of the candidates.
Kosgey maintained a low profile after the 2013 polls — and went back to class — until last year when he announced his bid for the Governor’s seat.
He said he was honouring calls from the electorate in Nandi County to represent them as their Governor.
“If you elect me, I will accord equal representation to all the one million residents of Nandi County. I will be a Governor for all, not a few people. We will ensure good management for devolved funds disbursed to the county by the national government,” he announced.
He will be facing Lagat who is leaving nothing to chance in order to retain his position. Lagat, before plunging into politics in 2013, was the Chief Principal of Eldoret National polytechnic.
Kosgey recently assured President Kenyatta and his deputy Ruto in Eldoret that he will spearhead campaigns for Jubilee in the region. He has wide political experience having served in various ministries in full cabinet portfolios.
The former Tinderet MP said the slogan ‘Tuko Pamoja’ originated from his remarks when six Kenyans — then known as ‘Ocampo six’ — were cleared of any accusations by The Hague based International Criminal Court (ICC) over the 2007/08 post-election violence.
Kosgey said he made the remarks at a special prayer rally at Afraha stadium in Nakuru in 2016. The six included President Kenyatta, DP Ruto, Kosgey, former Head of Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Muthaura, former Police Commissioner Hussein Ali and Radio Personality, Joshua Sang.
In 2007, Kosgey was the ODM chairman and was in the same camp with Nasa Co-Principal leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto — who was in Raila’s pentagon team.
He relinquished his ODM chairmanship prior to the bungled party elections at Kasarani in 2014.
Senator Sang has been vocal in the senate and is banking on his performance, having sponsored several Bills.
“Competition in the gubernatorial race is hot, but what will count is the past performance of each candidate in their past positions. The electorate will vet performance of candidates in their previous positions and stations,” said the articulate Senator in a recent interview.
Former CS Felix Koskei is popularising his bid across the six constituencies in his bid for the governorship promising servant leadership if elected.
He is making his first attempt in elective politics having served in Uhuru’s first cabinet when he was appointed Agriculture boss in 2013.
He was however forced to step aside to facilitate investigation after appearing in a list presented to the president by Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) over graft allegations.
He was later cleared of the allegations but was not reappointed in a reshuffle in November 2015 as Willy Bett was picked to replace him.