The appointment of individuals from the Maasai community to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government appears to have paid off in the just concluded elections.
Despite Narok, Kajiado and Samburu counties being considered as swing vote regions, or opposition strongholds, the President garnered 149,585 votes (53.09 per cent) of the Narok vote, beating his main rival — opposition leader Raila Odinga — who got 130,032 votes (46.15 per cent).
In Kajiado, the Jubilee Party got 185,789 votes (57.07 per cent) and Nasa got 138,347 votes (42.50 per cent) while in Samburu, Jubilee won by a small margin of 31,786 votes (49.67 per cent) against Nasa’s 31,661 votes (49.48 per cent).
While party politics, development, accountability, and inclusiveness were key determinants in the region, the Maasai community is believed to have also voted for President Kenyatta as payback for 142 State appointments from the time he took over power in 2013.
In Narok, for example, upgrading of the 84km Sikinani and Kisiriri-Mwisho wa Lami roads with bitumen, and the Sh520 million AFC loans waiver granted to wheat, barley and livestock farmers, are believed to have influenced the voters.
Some of the top State appointments that seem to have paid off include the appointment of Geothermal Development Company chief executive Johnson ole Nchoe, Kenya Water Towers Agency director-general Francis ole Nkako and National Transport and Safety Authority director-general Francis ole Meja.
Others who benefited from President Uhuru’s appointments are Ewaso Ngiro South Development Authority board chairman Seleila ole Mwanik, chairman of the Private Security Regulatory Authority Amos Ntimama, former chairman of the People Living with Disabilities David ole Sankok, who has been nominated to the National Assembly, Nema board of management chairman John Konchellah and Joseph Narikae of the Central Bank of Kenya.
The appointment of Mr Joseph Nkadayo to head the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, Principal Secretaries Charles Sunkuli (Environment), Saitoti Torome (Defence) and Richard Lesiyambe (Agriculture) also increased Jubilee Party’s fortunes in Maasailand where it faced fierce competition from Nasa.
The Maasai professionals group, aided by the combative Narok county governor Samuel Tunai, embarked on a fierce campaign in regions occupied by the Maa speaking people in Kenya to drum up support for President Uhuru Kenyatta and deputy William Ruto.
After the 2013 election, Narok became an opposition zone, with Mr Odinga leading in the county with 118,623 votes (50 per cent of the total cast) against Mr Kenyatta’s 109,413 (46 per cent).
In 2013, Mr Kenyatta garnered 52 per cent of the votes (138,851 votes) cast in Kajiado against Mr Odinga’s 44 per cent (117,856 votes).
Land and marginalisation also became key campaign topics by both Jubilee and Nasa, with Jubilee beating all the odds to win the residents’ support, despite Nasa’s campaign centred on marginalisation and non-implementation of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission report.
‘I reach out to you and all elected on the opposition benches… we shall develop this country together,’ says President.