Poghisio defends his election, vows to unite Jubilee coalition
West Pokot senator Samuel Poghisio yesterday defended his controversial election as the Senate Leader of Majority as he took up his new assignment with gusto.
Though defensive of his election during Monday’s a Jubilee coalition Senate Parliamentary Group Meeting chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, the Kanu senator struck a reconciliatory tone vowing to “build bridges”.
“We are ready for the job ahead. I hope to draw from my experience as a former minister and party leader to do the job. We will bring the team together,” said Poghisio, referring to the cracks in Jubilee widened by the Jubilee-Kanu coalition last week.
Poghisio replaced Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, who has since protested his removal alongside Susan Kihika (Nakuru).
Kihika was replaced by Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata as Majority Chief Whip.
Poghisio was a beneficiary of the apparent fallout between the President and his Deputy William Ruto over various issues, the latest being a post-election coalition signed with Gideon Moi-led Kanu.
He defended his election, saying Kanu previously supported Murkomen’s election.
“Kanu senators voted during the election of Murkomen and his group but when Kanu’s turn came, the situation seems to have changed,” he noted.
Ruto allies in the Senate have faulted the election that de-whipped Murkomen and Kihika, saying they are aimed at demeaning the Deputy President.
Jubilee Party has been mired in infighting with two camps loyal to President Uhuru Kenyatta on the one side, and Ruto on the other.
Political observers, however, described Poghisio as level-headed, resilient, experience and discipline, making him a perfect candidate for the job.
The senator once served as the chairman of ODM Kenya, then under the leadership Kalonzo Musyoka. He is a veteran politician who has served with three parties in his political career spanning 32 years.
He served as Information minister under former President Mwai Kibaki’s administration, served as Kacheliba MP for three terms and now a senator.
Allocation of resources The 61-year-old legislator, a former university lecturer, contested the Kacheliba parliamentary seat in 1988 on a Kanu ticket but lost it only after four months after disagreement.
He was expelled alongside the late former Kapenguria lawmaker Francis Lotodo for questioning the ruling party over alleged discrimination of the Pokot in allocation of resources.
Poghisio studied biological sciences at Uganda’s Makerere University and was hired as a secondary school teacher when he returned to Kenya in 1980.
In between 1993 and 1995, he became a lecturer and later on elevated to Senior Lecturer at Daystar University and finally promoted to Head of Department.
Poghisio was to make a comeback into the political arena in the 1997 General Election when he reclaimed his seat on a Kanu ticket despite being constantly at odds with the Moi administration, especially the Provincial Administration in the Rift Valley.
He got re-elected in subsequent elections until 2013 when he lost at the at the party nominations.
As Information minister, Poghisio controversially pushed the controversial Communications Bill that gave government powers to raid powers to raid media houses and stop broadcasts during a state of emergency, drawing the ire of the Fourth Estate.
Poghisio during the same time served as the Chairman of the ODM-K Party under the leadership of former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka during which he threatened to challenge his boss to contest for Presidency in 2013.
He was to decamp to Jubilee in 2013 until 2016 before defecting to his mother party Kanu which sponsored his elections as West Pokot Senator in 2017.