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Nakuru: Tower of power missing in the ‘big table’


Since independence, Nakuru County has retained a huge significance in the country’s political landscape.

It is home to renowned politicians and is best know for various historic political events.

First President Jomo Kenyatta was fond of Nakuru. He frequented the Nakuru State House and often held key events there.

His successor Daniel Moi, who resides at his expansive Kabarak Farm, spent most of his weekends in Nakuru. Third President Mwai Kibaki has a home in Bahati constituency, which he rarely visits.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has often expressed his high regard for Nakuru County. The Kenyatta family’s Gichea Farm neighbour’s Moi’ Kabarak home in Rongai constituency.

Nakuru is also home to big names such as Achieng’ Oneko, Kihika Kimani, Mark Mwithaga, Koigi Wamwere, Ng’ang’a Kihonge, Wilson Leitich, Kariuki Chotara, Alicen Chelaite and Mirugi Kariuki.

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Many big political decisions and statements have been made in Nakuru, including the 2013 launch of the Jubilee alliance at Afraha Stadium. On June 1, 2016, it hosted the 53rd Madaraka Day celebrations.

But the county has a dubious record of not producing a Cabinet Minister, save for independence hero Ochieng’ Oneko, who later shifted from the area.

The highest ranking politicians from the county have been assistant ministers among them Mr Koigi, the late Kariuki and the late Mwithaga, Alice Chelaite and Lee Kinyanjui.

At some point during Kanu’s reign, the region was viewed as an opposition stronghold and did not benefit much from public appointments.

When Kibaki ascended to power in 2002, there was a lot of hope among residents that Nakuru would be rewarded for their support to him. But this never happened.

Wamwere concurs that the region, despite voting massively for Jubilee in 2013, has been sidelined in appointments to public offices.

Koigi says politics of ethnic considerations have also played against Nakuru residents because of its cosmopolitan nature.

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“Those seeking the presidency see Nakuru differently. The county or even the former larger Nakuru District has representation from almost all ethnic groups hence hard to please, politically,” he claims.

The one time Information Assistant minister says the leadership of the region is also to blame because they fail to negotiate with those seeking the presidency or major political parties likely to win the presidency.

“Some areas which failed to vote for Jubilee have as many as four people appointed while Nakuru has none,” Koigi says.

Kinyanjui, the former National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) chairman, agrees with Koigi, saying the inability of the leaders to negotiate for their rightful share of the national cake has had catastrophic results in appointments and development projects.

“The perception that Nakuru is a diaspora county has led to the belief that once the mother counties are satisfied, Nakuru would be gratified. This is why appointments have tended to fly to Kericho, Baringo, Kiambu among others while our people ‘meza mate (salivate)’,” says the former Roads Assistant minister.

Mr Kinyanjui observes that the scenario remind the people of the great farmer who plants but is unable to harvest.

“Our political significance has not led to greater fruits for the region,” says Kinyanjui,  who is contesting the Nakuru gubernatorial seat.

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However, Kuresoi South MP Zakayo Cheruiyot has a different opinion. Mr Cheruiyot says those seeking the presidency must reward Nakuru residents with a Cabinet position on merit and not as a token of appreciation.

“At least if the leadership of the country feels that Nakuru residents are tax payers and deserve a Cabinet position or an appointment in government, they must done so with fairness,” he told The Standard on Sunday.

The local leaders have never hidden their concerns about aoopintments. After the 2007 polls, there were murmurs of disapproval from a group of local legislators. Kikuyus in the large Rift Valley felt shortchanged and started a campaign to demand ‘their rightful share in government.’

The argument was that while they had borne the brunt of the post-election violence, their Central Kenya kin were the major beneficiaries.

In a bid to pacify them, Kibaki appointed Koigi an assistant minister. Former Naivasha MP Jayne Kihara also served as an assistant.

Wilson Leitich, the one time Nakuru Kanu branch chairman, however, says concerns about appointments are valid but the region would remain behind the Jubilee government.

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