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Daggers drawn as Malombe faces titans in Kitui gubernatorial race

Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity ngilu adress the press on the issue of the Lamu county that President Uhuru Kenyatta directed an audit to be taken on. Photo by WILLIS AWANDU/STANDARD

The race for the Kitui governor’s seat will likely be the hottest contest in Ukambani.

The race has attracted Senator David Musila and Narc party leader Charity Ngilu. Both are seeking to unseat the incumbent Julius Malombe, who has vowed to fiercely defend the seat.

After falling out with the Jubilee government, which booted her out of the Cabinet where she served in the Lands docket, Mrs Ngilu has lately concentrated her energy on bashing the administration in what is seen as a strategy to endear herself to voters in an area that is largely an opposition zone.

Ngilu, who was until recently a fierce critic of Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, has had to eat the humble pie and is now openly rooting for a Kalonzo presidency.

“Ngilu is using Kalonzo’s name as a premium for her gubernatorial campaigns. She knows without being seen to be on Kalonzo’s side, her chances are as good as doomed,” says Campbell Munyambu, the coordinator of Mwingi professional forum and business community.

Ngilu, however, says she is keen to take over the county seat and to among other things ensure water and healthcare service provision, women empowerment and wealth creation.

“We want to have a county that is water-secure. A county that will generate wealth for her people and where youth and women will be empowered to be self-reliant,” says Ngilu, who in the past served as minister in the dockets of Water and Health.

Her critics, however, claim she cannot be entrusted with the management of county resources.

The ghost of Umaa dam at the heart of Kitui Central, a signature national government project that was supposed to cure perennial water problems in the region, has remained her biggest headache.

It was during her helm at the Water ministry that funds meant for the mega dam were reportedly misappropriated, throwing the multi-billion-shilling project into quandary. But a parliamentary committee on Natural Resources later exonerated her from blame.

“She is totally unfit to hold any public office. Her leadership style is known for corruption and scandals, this is why she was tossed off the Jubilee government,” says Governor Malombe.

Her supporters, however, think she is a results-oriented person who knows how to connect with the masses.

Ngilu suffered a blow recently when the only elected MP from her party, Rachael Nyamai (Kitui South) decamped to Jubilee, occasioning bad blood between the two.

On his part, Musila has no kind words for the county administration.

“I was shocked when I toured several health facilities recently and all I could find were condoms,” Musila said in a clear dig to the governor, who he accuses of misplaced priorities.

However, Malombe has come out to defend his position and dismissed Musila as a greedy old man who has no development record.

“The senator presided over skewed distribution of resources during his tenure as Mwingi South MP where he marginalised areas that did not vote for him. He is a village leader,” Malombe opened his onslaught against his former campaign buddy.

But it is the contest for the Wiper ticket pitting the two that threatens to tear the party apart.

With Musila feeling increasingly on the edge, Dr Malombe exudes confidence he will clinch the ticket “in free, fair and credible nominations”.

The party nomination has rubbed Musila the wrong way and he recently told Kalonzo off over perceived favouritism to the governor. The senator, who is the party chairman, said if push comes to shove, he might run on another party.

“I will not allow Malombe to claim he is close to Kalonzo because he (Kalonzo) has only one vote and you have your votes,” Musila recently told a gathering at Nuu market.

The governor, however, says Musila is running scared after his bid to blackmail the party leadership for a direct nomination was rejected.

“He should contain his fear and face me in the nominations. I will defeat him. The party constitution does not allow for direct nomination and it will not be done,” Malombe says.

He noted that his development record in the past four years, which includes 4,000 projects across the county, had surpassed what Musila and Ngilu did in their combined 35 years in leadership.

The senator, however, says with Sh8 billion every financial year, the governor would have initiated projects meant to create wealth and reduce poverty in the county.

Malombe said even with the end of his term, it would be suicidal to hand over power to what he called old and sluggish leaders. Both Ngilu and Musila are older than him.

Yet in another interesting twist, Dominic Maluki, a voter from Kitui East, has written to Commission for University Education requesting the body to probe the authenticity of degree certificates held by Ngilu and Musila.

Mr Muthui wants the commission to verify whether Musila’s alleged degree from Bishop’s Community College in Texas, US, is authentic and recognisable in Kenya.

In the same letter, Maluki claims Ngilu, “who failed to attain the minimum university grade”, could not have qualified for a degree course. The Narc party leader graduated last year from St Paul’s University.

The two have curiously remained mum on the matter, only letting their supporters and critics to engage each other in furious social media exchanges.

Some are of the opinion that Musila is rocking the Wiper boat at the behest of Jubilee.

“He should come out of his hiding place because it is now clear he acts for Jubilee to slow down Kalonzo’s presidential ambitions. At no time has he supported the party leader’s quest for the presidency,” noted Mr Munyambu.

 

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