Lobbying for the deputy governor’s position in Nyeri County has intensified with losers in the August 2017 elections seeking to redeem themselves.
Among those eyeing the seat are former governor Samuel Wamathai, Athi Water Services Board chairman Wachira Keen and former Woman Rep Priscilla Nyokabi.
Also reported to have contacted Governor Mutahi Kahiga seeking to be his assistant is National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Vice-Chairperson Irene Njeri.
The deputy governor’s seat fell vacant after Mr Kahiga took over as governor following the death of the county’s third governor, Wahome Gakuru, in a tragic crash at Kabati in Murang’a along the Nyeri-Nairobi highway.
Lobbying began in earnest immediately Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen announced that he will table a Bill seeking to enable a governor appoint a deputy should the seat becomes vacant.
Members of Dr Gakuru’s secretariat are fronting Dr Stephen Gachie from Mukurwe-ini to deputise Mr Kahiga, a former teacher-turned-politician.
Dr Gachie is a consultant with StreetWise Marketing and Communications Ltd and his experience spanning 14 years in managerial positions is his selling point.
According to sources close to the governor, Dr Gachie was a member of Dr Gakuru’s campaign secretariat and played a major role in securing his victory in the August 8 elections.
Mr Kahiga, in an interview, said he will pick someone with impressive skills that match Dr Gakuru’s vision and one who is not involved in politics.
“I will be looking for Gakuru when I am picking my deputy. Someone who will compliment and complete me. They must share in the late governor’s vision and be ready and willing to implement it,” he said.
The governor, who has already announced interest to defend his seat in the next election, will consider someone without political ambitions to avoid a falling-out that may cost him the seat in 2022.
He is therefore keen on picking a technocrat who is unlikely to challenge him.
Governor Gakuru had initially picked Dr Gachie to head the Finance and Economic Planning docket but the economist declined the offer after landing a plum job with a non-governmental organisation.
“The governor was forced to make drastic changes in a short time. He substituted Dr Gachie’s name with that of Dr Kwai Wanjaria who also hails from Mukurwe-ini,” said a close ally of the former governor.
In an exclusive interview with Nation, former Governor Wamathai described himself as the most suitable candidate for the seat citing his four years’ experience as deputy governor.
The former ambassador served as the county’s second governor for five months after the death of Governor Nderitu Gachagua in February 2017.
He was also forced to serve without a deputy, a situation he described as difficult and overwhelming.
Mr Wamathai said that he understands the role more than anyone else, arguing that he had remained loyal to Mr Gachagua at a time deputies were having frosty relationships with their bosses.
“I have the capability, the experience and I am competent. The residents of Nyeri have approached me and they want me to assume that position,” he said.
Former Speaker David Mugo is also said to be secretly lobbying for the seat and has the backing of Senator Ephraim Maina who enjoys influence in the county.
Ms Nyokabi expressed interest in the job during Dr Gakuru’s burial and is banking on gender consideration to win the position.
The governor will be under pressure to balance the many competing interests including regional balancing and the hopes by women to have one of their own appointed to the position.