Tharaka-Nithi or Meru South? Name change push sparks row

Tuesday January 9 2018

Tharaka-Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki

Tharaka-Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki addressing journalists on January 8, 2018 one the proposal to change the county’s name to Meru South. He and other leaders have opposed the idea mooted by the Ameru Professionals Association. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

By PATRICK LANG'AT
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By ALEX NJERU
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A row is brewing in Tharaka-Nithi over the name of the county, with elected leaders opposing a proposal by area professionals to rename it to Meru South.

While the Ameru Professionals Association (AMPA) said that the change of name will promote unity among the Meru-speaking people, Governor Muthomi Njuki and other elected leaders have opposed the bid.

Chuka University Vice Chancellor Erastus Njoka, the association’s spokesperson, said the change will ensure that residents of the two counties who are members of the Ameru community are united and lobby for projects as a block.

“The main reason why the professionals propose a change of the names is to bring unity [among] the Ameru community for the purpose of development and peaceful coexistence,” Prof Njoka said.

MOVE OPPOSED

But Governor Njuki, backed by Maara MP Kareke Mbiuki, Patrick Munene of Chuka/Igambang’ombe, Tharaka’s Gitonga Murugara, and Woman Rep Beatrice Nkatha said they will oppose such a move.

They argued that while Meru County and Tharaka-Nithi have a lot in common, the name of the county should not be changed to give the impression of a united front.

“As elected leaders, we are comfortable with the name Tharaka-Nithi County as it defines our identity, and who we are as a people,” said Governor Njuki in a joint statement in Nairobi on Monday.

He went on: “We are hoping that people are not trying to use this change of name to campaign for a slot in government. We are two distinct counties, and if there is an appointment, Tharaka-Nithi needs to be considered on its own.”

CROSSED THE LINE

The leaders argued that the professionals have crossed the line, and have usurped the people’s sovereign power by not involving them in the talks over the proposed change of name.

“We cannot purport to unite Meru and Tharaka by changing a name. You do not change your name to look like that of your brother to show that you two are united,” said Mr Munene, the Chuka/Igambang’ombe MP.

In Tharaka-Nithi, Prof Njoka faulted area politicians for what he termed as blowing the issue out of proportion without consulting the professional body which is the think-tank of the community.

The association’s chairman Prof Kinyua Muriungi said the matter is still at its initial stages and is set to be presented to residents for views.

“The association came up with the idea in good faith but it must be discussed by the leadership and people of the two counties and if found viable will be implemented,” said Prof Muriungi.