With barely six months to the general election, politicians eyeing the Kericho governorship seat have already started crisscrossing the county in a vote hunting mission.
Each aspirant is out to reach out as many residents as possible with a view to consolidating support ahead of the political party primaries.
Kericho has six sub-counties namely, Kipkelion East, Kipkelion West, Belgut, Soin-Sigowet, Bureti and Ainamoi. Close to 400,000 votes will be up for grabs in the county.
Those who have already lined-up to oust the current Governor Paul Chepkwony, include Ainamoi Member of Parliament Benjamin Langat, Former National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Managing Trustee Richard Kipkoech Langat, Engineer Fred Kirui, a director with Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and James Sang, who is a don at Moi University.
The aspirants while endearing themselves to the voters are also campaigning for re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto in the coming polls. They argue that they have done a lot for the country and therefore, deserve another term in office.
Both the incumbent governor-Chepkwony and Langat (Benjamin) hailed from Ainamoi Constituency, while Kirui is a resident of Kipkelion West Constituency. Langat (Richard) and Sang are residents of Bureti Constituency.
Interestingly all the aspirants so far have declared that they will be battling it on Jubilee Party (JP) ticket during the primaries. The stakes are high taking into consideration that whoever wins the primaries is as good as becoming the next governor. Kericho County and to the extension the Kipsigis land is the JP stronghold, so the Opposition candidates will not make any impacts during the general elections.
The voting hunting mission is heating up as the politicians have already spent sleepless nights laying out strategies aimed at garnering maximum votes ahead of the JP primaries.
The Ainamoi MP who is also the Parliamentary Select Committee chairman on Finance and Planning recently accused governor Chepkwony’s administration of having done little in terms of development despite receiving huge resources from the National government.
“Elect me as the next governor if you expect transformation in terms of development. There’s nothing tangible Chepkwony’s administration has done despite receiving billions of shillings from the National Treasury. He (Governor) is cheating you (residents) that he has done this or that but when go to the ground, there’s nothing” said the MP.
Governor Chepkwony came out guns blazing and dismissed the MP’s accusations saying the Ainamoi MP should have done his homework well before trying to tarnish the good name of his administration on flimsy grounds. He termed the MP’s sentiments as cheap politics saying he is out for political expediency.
“Langat (MP) should explain to us how he is spending the National Constituency Development Fund because a lot of money has been disbursed to the constituency but there’s nothing to show on the ground. We demand thorough audit on the use of CDF funds because people are still suffering due to lack of essential services. He is fighting the county administration so as to get sympathy from the voters,” said Governor Chepkwony.
Chepkwony says he will give the MP a run for his money saying he is not a push over in the Kericho politics.
The former NSSF boss has firmly set his eyes on the gubernatorial seat vowing to use all the tricks in the book to capture the post currently held by Chepkwony. He has been visiting every corner in the county to meet the people and participate in development projects and thus endearing himself to them.
Engineer Fred Kirui last weekend dismissed sentiments from some politicians to that effect that he is set to be a running mate of Langat (Richard). He vowed to go all the way to the end.
“I am not ready to play a second fiddle to anybody. I have set my eyes firmly on the coveted seat. So watch this space. In fact, I am confident of trouncing my opponents in the primaries and go all go all the way to become the next Kericho governor,” declared Kirui.
The university don-Sang is also confident of emerging top during the primaries. He said he has what it takes to be the next governor of Kericho.
The larger Kipkelion leaders a week ago assured Kirui of their support vowing to rally the area residents behind the aspirant. They declared that they will conduct door-to-door campaigns to ensure Kirui gets close to 100,000 votes before moving to other sub-counties.