Race for Baringo Senate seat gathers pace

Monday, October 4th, 2021 00:00 |
Kanu chairman Gideon Moi Photo/PD/Bernard Malonza.

Wycliff Kipsang

Kanu chairman Gideon Moi’s entry into the presidential race has opened the way for new entrants to battle it out for  his Baringo senatorial seat.

Last Thursday, Kanu picked Gideon as its presidential candidate.

“I want to assure you that I will come back to you with nothing short of victory,” he told the cheering Kanu delegates at the Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi.

Though Kanu is yet to announce whether it will field a candidate for the Baringo senate seat in next year’s election, the battle is seen to be between the former ruling party and Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA), and by extension, between Gideon the DP.

The scramble for UDA ticket has intensified with three candidates already expressing interest.

They are the Tenges Ward MCA Silas Tochim, National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) senior official Isaiah Kirukmet and Australia-based Chamber of Commerce member Felix Chelaite.

Baringo North MP William Cheptumo, a close ally of the DP, is also said to be interested in the seat but is yet to make a formal announcement.

The aspirants have stepped up their campaigns with the promise to do better than the current occupant whom they accuse of having little to show for his two terms in office.

“Baringo has lagged behind in many spheres of development because our Senator has not been fighting for the welfare of the people.

He only comes here after five years to ask for our votes,” Tochim told People Daily in an interview.

Bad roads

Tochim has been a harsh critic of the Jubilee administration. Tochim has accused Gideon of being out of touch with the needs of the people at the grassroots.

He said many roads in Baringo County were dilapidated due to what he calls the failure of the region’s leadership to fight for the allocation of more resources.

Chelaite, who is the latest entrant in the race, said he will push for the economic transformation of  the county.

“Our county has many untapped economic opportunities which if well harnessed will turn around our economy,” said Chelaite.

He cited tourism potential and resources such as geothermal energy which has been discovered by the Geothermal Development Company in the area.

Chelaite is also concerned about banditry in the region which he said was scaring away potential investors.

“For any meaningful peace to be experienced in the region there is need for elders from the warring Pokot, Tugen and Ilchamus communities to be involved in preaching peace.”

He said the county government should come up with policies to empower the people and support education by sponsoring children from poor backgrounds.

Perennial insecurity

“We need new leadership, new ways of thinking and to convince our people to see their neighbour’s as allies not enemies,” said Chelaite.

Kirukmet, a former NHIF Kabarnet branch manager, said that if elected the next senator, he will take Baringo County to the next level in terms of development.

“I want to bring fresh blood and assist our people to break away from dynasties and sycophancy which have enslaved them for many years,”said Kirukmet.

He said that his post at NHIF had prepared him well for the senatorial role as it had enabled him to traverse the vast county and know the problems affecting the people.

“My priority areas will be water and infrastructure. I believe if this is addressed, it will bring to an end many problems including the perennial insecurity,” said Kirukmet.

“I will champion for lasting peace among communities, especially where clashes have been historical.

I will also promote and market Baringo products in and out of the County,” he added.

Gideon toured the county two weeks ago and appealed to  residents to support his 2022 presidential bid.

“I’m sure I’ll floor all my opponents in the ballot if I get the support of the Kalenjin community.

My journey starts here at home and I’m counting on your support. I will not disappoint you,” the senator told the residents.

In Sacho, which is the ancestral home of his father, late President Moi, he sought the blessings of elders to embark on the presidential journey.

Senator Moi and the DP have been embroiled in a protracted battle of supremacy for the control of the Rift Valley vote and Baringo county is turning out to be one of the battle grounds.

Ruto played a big role in the choice of leaders in the county in the 2017 General Election.

The DP prevailed upon Simon Chelugui to abandon his   bid for governor and instead  run against Gideon for the senate seat. He eventually lost but was appointed to the Cabinet.

The DP is said to have made the proposal to Chelugui when he hosted a delegation from Baringo at his Sugoi home in Uasin Gishu. 

Chelugui was former Governor Benjamin Cheboi’s closest competitor in the 2013 race.

Gideon is a member the One  Kenya Alliance (OKA) which brings together Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Amani National Congress (ANC) party leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula.

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