Top Nandi leaders split over governorship race

The race for Nandi governorship has split the county’s top political leaders down the middle just 13 months to the General Election.

Social media platforms and church events have become important for hopefuls as they sell their agenda and throw brickbats at Governor Stephen Sang (pictured), who will be defending his seat.

Although most political leaders in the region are allied to Deputy President William Ruto, they do not see eye-to-eye with Governor Sang.

Senator Samson Cherargei, MPs Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills), Cornely Serem (Aldai), Vincent Tuwei (Mosop) and Julius Melly (Tinderet) have criticised the governor’s performance record since his election in 2017.

Sang, who was a senator from 2013 to 2017, will be facing Nandi’s first governor, Cleophas Lagat and Allan Kosgey, the son of former Cabinet Minister Henry Kosgey.

Other aspirants include former Chesumei MP Elijah Lagat, Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya CEO Japhter Rugut, architect Nicholas Koech Tirop, and former Kenya Pipeline Company staff Antipas Tirop.

Allan has taken part in membership recruitment drives for the United Democratic Alliance and works closely with Serem, Melly and Cherargei in functions that the county boss gives a wide berth.

These differences prompted organisers who had invited Ruto to visit development projects in Aldai, Nandi Hills and Emgwen in February to stop the local leaders from addressing residents so as to avoid any altercations.

Stalled projects

Keter claimed in a separate event in Tinderet that Sang “has nothing to show in development for the Sh18 billion disbursed to the county since he was elected and should be voted out in 2022.”

During Ruto’s tour in February, the former governor was cheered on by crowds who demanded that he addresses them.

“There has been demand by locals that I contest and I will fully come for the post at an appropriate time,” Dr Lagat told The Sunday Standard.

Lagat said he will be “aligned to the political stand” taken by Ruto. Some of the projects he initiated include a three-storey governor’s office in Kapsabet and the Kipchoge Keino Stadium. The two projects have since stalled.

Rugut told The Sunday Standard that he is preparing the Kenyan team for the Tokyo Olympic Games, and he will give details on his candidature at a later date.

Residents said they will bank on his long career in public administration where he rose from a provincial commissioner to the director general of the National Youth Service.

Lagat, the former MP, said he is “fully in the governorship contest to dethrone Sang.”

“We cannot watch as Nandi lags behind due to poor administration. We want the electorate to benefit from good service delivery,” said Lagat.

The ex-MP, who won the 1997 Berlin, 1998 Prague and 2000 Boston marathons, initiated plans to revive the Kipchoge Keino Stadium by organising a funds drive in 2001.

The county government took over the rehabilitation project and is yet to complete it.

Koech, who unsuccessfully contested in 2017 as an independent candidate, said he will make a second attempt.

Sang, however, has previously stated that he will beat his opponents.

“There is enmity from some MPs who have been making wild allegations of corruption which have not been proven.

“We have institutions, including the DCI, EACC and the Senate, but all investigations conducted in Nandi have not found any misuse of resources,” the governor said at St Mary’s Taachasis Catholic church.

Sang also took a dig at Cherargei: “Our senator is so loud at home but for the last four years I have been invited to the Senate, he has remained silent on the floor of the House.”

During a funeral in Emgwen recently, Sang said he will endorse Emgwen MP Alex Kosgey to be the next senator.

He claimed Cherargei had failed to agitate for more resources for the county.

The governor’s critics have accused him of taking credit for projects that were implemented by other leaders.

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