Nyandarua governorship contenders focus on graft, agriculture

It was a show of might as three candidates in the Nyandarua gubernatorial race were cleared by the Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to face off in the August 8 General Election.

Former Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia of Jubilee Party, Dr Kiarie Ndirangu (independent) and Maendeleo Chap Chap’s Kanja Muchina all presented their nomination papers on Thursday evening and promptly got the nod to take part in the polls.

RUNNING MATE ISSUE
Dr Kiarie, popularly known as Badilisha, was nearly locked out of the race after his running mate vanished on Wednesday, shortly before they finalised legal documents with their lawyers.

“We had agreed to meet on Wednesday morning but he kept giving false promises until late in the evening when we learnt that he was in a meeting with my opponent,” Dr Kiarie said.

Deputy Governor Mwangi Kirika, who had witnessed the negotiations between Dr Kiarie and his running mate offered to save the situation, becoming Dr Kiarie’s running mate.

“The politics of buying politicians is old fashioned. It shows that people do not have conscience.

“Dr Kiarie is younger than me in age, I am an experienced lawyer and politician, but I decided to swallow my pride and deputise him,” the Deputy said.

FORMIDABLE OPPONENTS
During party primaries, Mr Kirika came second after Mr Kimemia, followed by Dr Kiarie.

Combined, the two – Mr Kirika and Dr Kiarie – scored about 40 per cent of total votes cast during Jubilee nominations.

Pundits opine that the entry of Mr Kirika into Dr Kiarie’s camp could be a game-changer as the two are influential and command a sizeable constituency which, combined, is likely to give the Jubilee candidate a run for his money.

After presenting his papers, Mr Kimemia promised to fight corruption and allocate tenders to the locals.

“We will have the books of accounts audited and those who are found to have squandered public funds will go to jail,” he said.

AGRICULTURE
On his part, Dr Kiarie, who is also the Kenya Independent Candidates Association Nyandarua Chapter chairman, said the revival of the agricultural sector and co-operative movement will be his priority if elected.

He will also ensure that 70 per cent of contracts and top jobs are awarded to the local community.

“I will have found a solution to agriculture and awarding of contracts in 100 days. This will be done by involving all stakeholders.

“We can’t talk about good health or education when poverty levels continue to rise. People need to be empowered to stand on their own feet,” he explained.

COOPERATIVES
He said that having come from a humble background where the family could not afford Sh6 he needed for fare to school, he has first-hand experience of the challenges facing Nyandarua people.

He says farming has become routine, where farmers toil but get no profits due to lack of proper marketing systems.

This can be addressed through policy formulation and implementation, with active co-operative movements.

“Those of my age can testify how things used to be when we had a vibrant co-operative movement. I am a beneficiary of the co-operative movement.

“Nyandarua is the only county without a vibrant sacco specifically targeting the small-scale farmer. We need to have a permanent solution to that,” Dr Kiarie said.

ECONOMIC BLOCK
He gives the example of neighbouring Nyeri, Kiambu, Nakuru and Laikipia counties, which have thriving co-operative movements that have spawned financial institutions, some expanding branches to other regions and others going national.

Dr Kiarie said as the governor, he will mobilise neighbouring counties to form a formidable regional force.

Such a unity will give them bargaining power with the national government.

“We lack proper policies to protect the farmer, and the few that exists are not implemented.

“Coming together as counties will give us the voice to have the proper policy at the national level while counties play their part,” he added. 

CONTRACTS
With such an economic block, it will be possible for ministries of agriculture and cooperative movements to seek ways through which they can complement and support each other for the common good of their people, Dr Kiarie said.

On contracts, he said he has assisted many youths to register their companies to enable them to trade with the county government.

He lamented that bureaucracy involved in getting those contracts were frustrating to the young people.

He said that during his tenure, contracts would be awarded strictly on merit.

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