Tharaka-Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki and Tharaka MP Gitonga Murugara have vowed to go to court to dispute results of the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census, which indicate the county has 393,177 people.
Governor Njuki and Mr Murugara led other county leaders in dismissing the figure and said they will petition the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) for a review or repeat of the exercise.
Mr Njuki noted on Monday that the 2009 census revealed the county had a population of 365,330 and that it is unlikely the number grew by 27,847 only in 10 years.
He said this population increase indicates that only eight children are born in the whole county per day yet statistics at Chuka County Referral Hospital show that at the facility alone, the average number of births per day is nine.
“These are wrong figures. We will petition the KNBS to review the whole exercise in our region in order to get the right population."
Governor Njuki said there are clear indications that Tharaka-Nithi's population is higher than 500,000.
The governor further noted that the KNBS projected that the county would have a population of at least 428,959 out of a target of 105,152 homes.
He said that after surpassing the household target and registering 112,124 at the end of the exercise, the number of people should be higher.
The governor also said the county had 213,154 registered voters in the 2017 register of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
He said that with a population of 393,177, the number of voters is higher than the number of children, "which is impossible".
“There is a clear indication that these figures are not true. That is why we would like to know [what happened],” he said, adding that according to the county health and planning department, the county's population is higher 500,000.
MP Murugara also claimed Tharaka-Nithi has a population of above 500,000 and that the census results were distorted.
He said there seems to be a plot to economically and politically disadvantage some regions.
“Population figures are critical in deciding the share of the national cake that a region gets. We will not allow [presentation of] incredible figures,” said Mr Murugara.
Marimanti Ward Representative Susan Ngugi said she will lobby the assembly to officially petition the KNBS for a review of the exercise.
She said the county has been disadvantaged for many years so leaders must stop the trend.
The county has an area of 2609 km² with three constituencies, Tharaka, Maara and Chuka/Igambang’ombe and six sub counties.