Kenya:Senators rattle laid-back governors

Published by Daily Nation
On 25 August 2016 saa 02:47
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The governors have accused senators of abandoning their role as protectors of devolution.

Governors have been rattled out of their complacency by senators flocking back home to seek county seats, sparking a flurry of campaigns in the devolved regions.

Senators are holding meetings and attending harambees and funerals where they criticise governors. Some have been holding meetings with youth, elders and women.

They mostly accuse governors of misusing public funds and failing to implement development projects.

Governors have accused senators of abandoning their role as protectors of devolution.

Senators eyeing governorships are Anyang Nyong’o (Kisumu), Chris Obure (Kisii), Hassan Omar (Mombasa), Boni Khalwale (Kakamega), Mike Sonko (Nairobi), Kiraitu Murungi (Meru) David Musila (Kitui), Kembi Gitura (Murang’a) and John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot).

The senators, most of them veteran politicians, are hoping to use their networks to oust the governors, most of whom are newcomers.


In Kisumu, Senator Nyong’o has teamed up with Nyando MP Fred Outa and has been meeting opinion leaders to seek their support.

Mr Outa wants to replace Prof Nyong’o in the Senate.

Prof Nyong’o has started campaigning in earnest and on Monday launched a short message service that he says will help him engage in an “interactive exchange of ideas on how to develop Kisumu County.”

“We fought for devolution for certain things to happen in the counties. The sole purpose of devolution was to have more resources at the grassroots but this has not been the case in Kisumu,” the senator told the Nation.

The former planning minister said he has developed a blueprint that will enable the people of Kisumu to fully benefit from devolution.

In Kisii, Senator Obure has teamed up with Charles Nyachae, the former chairman of the defunct Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution, and Deputy Governor Joash Maangi against Governor James Ongwae.

The leaders recently led a delegation from the county to State House in Nairobi, sparking demonstrations in Kisii town.

Mr Obure, a harsh critic of Governor Ongwae’s administration, is seeking Kisii leaders’ endorsement to run for the seat.


But political analyst Barrack Muluka says the senators are seeking governorship “because that is where the money is”.

“The questions of accountability are not there. If you look at what has happened in the past four years, senators have been intimidating governors but nothing happens in terms of accountability,” he said.

He said senators have realised there was neither power nor money in the Senate.

“When they opted to run for [the Senate], they thought there was power there but have come to realise that even members of the National Assembly are more powerful than them,” he said.

In Kakamega, Senator Khalwale says he will kick out Governor Wycliffe Oparanya “for failing to ensure devolution is a success and benefits the public.”

“I believe I am the best bet for governor. The people are not enjoying the fruits of devolution that we fought for,” Dr Khalwale told the Nation.

In Mombasa, Senator Omar is promising to send Governor Hassan Joho home.

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From left, Senators Mike Sonko (Nairobi), Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu) and Boni Khalwale (Kakamega) are among those eyeing governorships.