Why These 10 Governor Candidates Have Been Missing in Action 

Why political bigwigs have gone missing in  national politics
A collage of Meru Governor (left), Siaya Senator James Orengo (center) and Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Mureithi.

Gubernatorial contests across the 47 counties have promised to be worth watching owing to the tight nature of the competitions. 10 years since the inception of devolution, the gubernatorial seat has proved to be one of the most lucrative and powerful, attracting hundreds of seasoned politicians.

Tuesday, August 9 polls are no different and have seen a huge number of renowned politicians jostling to occupy the now seemingly powerful position that allows then control billions of shillings annually.

However, some political heavyweights vying for the county top post have conspicuously gone low-key in the ongoing national campaigns. These politicians are facing daunting opposition in their counties, hence opting to focus on their campaigns to consolidate more support. 

Kenyans.co.ke has identified some of the gubernatorial candidates who have been missing on national campaigns. 

Siaya senator and lawyer James Orengo during an interview at his office in Nairobi on May 19, 2016..jpg
Siaya senator and lawyer James Orengo during an interview at his office in Nairobi on May 19, 2016..jpg

 James Orengo

The Siaya Senator has been missing in Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition rallies despite being a long-time right-hand man to the coalition’s leader, Raila Odinga. He has for years deployed his legal prowess in spearheading legal matters in Raila's camp.

However, the tight contest in the Siaya gubernatorial race has kept him off national politics as he seeks to succeed Governor Colonel Rasanga as the county’s second governor. Orengo is in a tight race pitting him against Nicholas Gumbo of the United Democratic Movement (UDM). 

Despite being an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) candidate who has in the past enjoyed massive support in the county, this year’s race has been one of the hottest duels in his political career.

Ndiritu Muriithi 

Laikipia's incumbent governor is pursuing a second term in office, albeit with formidable opposition. He is facing, among others, former governor Joshua Irungu of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA). 

Despite his appointment as the head of Azimio’s campaign secretariat, Muriithi has hardly taken part in the coalition’s national campaigns for the Raila Odinga and Martha Karua ticket. 

Recently, a candidate from Narc Kenya (one of the parties in Azimio) relinquished his bid in favor of Muriithi as the Raila-led faction seeks to wade off the Kenya Kwanza threat.  

Kiraitu Murungi 

Veteran politician Kiraitu Murungi is also tied in a make-or-break race in his endeavor to defend his seat as Meru governor. The politician - who has dominated Meru politics for over two decades - is facing area Senator Mithika Linturi of UDA and Woman Representative Kawira Mwangaza. 

The Meru governor has also gone missing from the national political scene as he seeks to marshal support for his bid. His wrangles with Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, Peter Munya, who also hails from the Mount Kenya East county, also seem to be playing a factor in the race.

Kiraitu and Munya have previously been engaged in bitter altercations with the incumbent governor accusing his predecessor of supporting his opponent. 

Anne Waiguru

Kirinyaga Governor, Anne Mumbi Waiguru, has also prioritized her campaigns hence missing out on the national political rallies. The once Devolution Cabinet Secretary is facing potent opposition from the county's Woman Representative, Purity Wangui Ngirici, who is vying as an independent candidate. 

As opposed to the previous election cycles where Mount Kenya politics have been decided on the basis of dominant political parties, this year is different with the vote-rich region apparently splitting its loyalty to different political factions. 

Waiguru is also facing former Senator Charles Kirubi of the ruling Jubilee Party.

Ken Lusaka

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka is seeking a comeback as Bungoma governor. He is, however, facing an uphill task in his endeavors as he would have to beat the incumbent, Wycliffe Wangamati, of the Democratic Alliance Party (DAP). 

Lusaka has been intensively campaigning in his backyard hence missing in the presidential campaigns for the Kenya Kwanza presidential candidate, William Ruto.  

Johnson Muthama

The former Machakos Senator is seeking to become the county’s second governor. Muthama, who has been a vocal leader in the Kamba nation politics, is facing off with Wiper’s Wavinya Ndeti and Nzioka Waita of Chama Cha Uzalendo. 

Wiper has been the party to beat in the Lower Eastern region politics, hence proving the daunting nature of Muthama’s ambitions. 

Despite being UDA’s national chairman, Muthama has not been seen in the campaigns of Deputy President William Ruto. 

Irungu Kang’ata 

Murang’a Senator is also among the most vocal politicians in the country but has also gone low-key.

The Senator is famed for the open letter he authored to President Uhuru Kenyatta in the events preceding his decamping to UDA.

He, however, has been forced to concentrate on his gubernatorial ambition which is facing opposition from former Kigumo Member of Parliament, Jamleck Kamau, of the Jubilee Party. 

He is also facing former Water Principal Secretary, Wairagu wa Maai, of the Democratic Party (DP) and former Transport Principal Secretary, Irungu Nyakera. 

Isaac Ruto

Former Bomet governor and seasoned South Rift politician, Isaac Ruto, is among veteran politicians facing formidable opposition in their gubernatorial contests. The Chama Cha Mashinani party leader is facing UDA’s Hilary Barchok who is also the incumbent. 

In 2017, Ruto’s presence was ubiquitous in the presidential campaigns when he served as a co-principal in the National Super Alliance (NASA). He is currently, however, focused on making a comeback as Bomet governor.

Lee Kinyanjui and Susan Kihika 

Nakuru governor, Lee Kinyajui, and Senator Susan Kihika are facing off in a race that has been described as make-or-break.

Kinyanjui is a member of the Azimio la Umoja while Kihika has been among Deputy President's foot soldiers in the 'Hustler Nation'. 

However, the two candidates have not been active in this year's presidential campaigns, opting to drum up support for their political bids. 

Nakuru County Governor Lee Kinyanjui and Senator Susan Kihika at a past event.
Nakuru County Governor Lee Kinyanjui and Senator Susan Kihika at a past event.