Tough times as candidates line to topple Governor Ngilu
A political battle royale is set to unfold in Kitui county as hopefuls line up to unseat Governor Charity Ngilu in next year’s General Election.
The “Iron Lady” who stood to oppose then President Daniel Moi (now late) at the dawn of the second liberation is keen on serving one more term although she is facing sharp opposition from candidates, three of whom are her neighbours.
Top on the list of those salivating for the county chief post are former Senator David Musila who is the chairman for the National Museums of Kenya, former Governor Julius Malombe, former Nairobi deputy governor Jonathan Mueke and Kenya’s High Commissioner to Uganda Kiema Kilonzo.
The contest is expected to be shaped by national and local politics, the financial muscle of the candidates and their development scorecards.
County regional politics could benefit Musila who has the backing of the larger Mwingi region which consists three constituencies of Mwingi Central, Mwingi North and Mwingi West.
A section of Kitui West which borders Mwingi is also said to be rooting for Musila.
Kitui South and East constituencies which alongside larger Mwingi have branded themselves the ‘Ndee Nation’ (marginalised region), are largely expected to cast their votes in Musila’s basket as one of their own.
Ngilu, Malombe and Mueke are viewed as neighbours since they come from Kitui Central constituency.
Pundits say the three are likely to share their home votes to the advantage of Musila who enjoys the sole backing of the Mwingi region.
Residents of Mwingi had hoped their region would become a county through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
But Musila, 78, will have to fight the age tag successfully used by his opponents in 2017 General Election.
Musila is a long-serving civil servant who rose through the ranks to provincial commissioner during Moi’s reign and later a legislator and assistant minister for defence.
“For the last two terms, we have only had governors from Kitui Central. We want to also have the seat at our region,” said Jackson Musangi, a resident of Kyuso town.
Musila allies have advised him to nominate a youthful running mate preferably from Kitui Central constituency in order to attract the support of young people and women.
The former senator lost to Malombe during the Wiper party primaries escalating a bitter fallout with his then ally and party leader Kalonzo Musyoka who he accused of rigging him out.
Musila who resigned as the Wiper national chairman and contested the seat as independent has since mended fences with Kalonzo. He was second to Ngilu in the 2017 election.
“We forgave each other with Kalonzo Musyoka but I have not yet decided on which party ticket I will vie for the governorship come next year.
My first thing will be addressing health challenges facing the people of Kitui.
There are no basic drugs in all public facilities since the sector is generally grounded,” said Musila
Ngilu who is set to run for reelection on development scorecard has heightened service delivery in the provision of healthcare for all, women empowerment, manufacturing, wealth creation, water provision and women empowerment.
Touted to be a fierce grassroots mobiliser and a skilled politician, Ngilu recently launched Sh180 billion youth and women empowerment kitty.
The county government is credited for paying 50 per cent NHIF contribution to households which is done in partnership with the National Insurance Fund.
The Narc leader and a harsh Kalonzo critic has, however, lost favour with her deputy Wathe Nzau who hails from Mwingi. Ngilu linked Wathe with her aborted impeachment last year.
The governor has had minimal political activities recently but resurfaced last week when she hosted a delegation of grass root leaders drawn from the 40 wards at her residence in the wake of her illness and full recovery.
“The leaders vowed to continue supporting our work in the months and years ahead so that we can take Kitui to greater heights,” posted Ngilu in her official Facebook page.
Ngilu retains strong support by women who constitute a big proportion of Kitui’s voting bloc.
She has also won the hearts of the youth for creation of job opportunities, especially through the establishment of the Kitui County Textile Centre (Kicotec), which is the first ever garment factory by a county government.
The factory received a major boost after President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the uniform of government officials be manufactured there. She is, however, blamed over poor healthcare and “Ndengu Revolution” that failed at takeoff.
Ngilu launched a project in which the county was supposed to provide seeds for green grams and then market the crop but the project was not implement to the disappointment of farmers.
Kitui East MP Nimrod Mbai has always put the governor on notice accusing her of failure to provide quality healthcare to the residents of Kitui.
“Ngilu has failed to deliver on her pledges to the people but she is busy always pleasing Raila Odinga when there are no ICU beds in Kitui Level 4 hospitals, no water apart from a few boreholes dug by former governor, no medicine in all dispensaries,” said Mbai.
Malombe who lost to Ngilu has activated his grassroots machinery but observers consider him a long shot candidate.