A tussle between Nandi Governor Stephen Sang and Senator Samson Cherargei over the running of the devolved unit has escalated barely six months after they were elected.
The verbal exchange between them started in November last year but their misunderstanding only came to the public in December when they both spoke about it.
Mr Sang, 33, and Mr Cherargei, 29, trounced seasoned politicians to emerge victorious last August in an election that quickly turned into a battle between the young and the old, with the former winning by a big margin.
However, before the dust settled, the young leaders were on each other’s case over issues on recruitment of fresh employees to replace those sacked, development activities and general running of the county.
On Jamhuri Day 2017, the governor did not shy away from telling off the senator for paying too much attention to county affairs. He accused the lawmaker of undermining his government instead of pushing for residents’ affairs in Nairobi.
“He is supposed to pitch tent in Nairobi and represent us in the Senate. He should lobby for the appointment of our people in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Cabinet. You cannot be a senator and an MCA at the same time,” said Mr Sang.
It was the first and the only time the governor has spoken about the power struggle between him and the senator with whom he held joint campaigns before elections and were both initially thought to be close.
This week, the senator pointed out various issues he said were of concern to him. He said he would not be intimidated by anyone and that he would continue talking about the issues until they are addressed.
He said his problem was the criteria used to appoint new employees, lack of transparency and inadequate development activities.
“The county government has employed outsiders beyond the limit required by the law. Our sons and daughters are being denied jobs in favour of outsiders,” said the senator who was recently picked to chair the Senate Legal and Human Rights Committee.
“They even want to fill the communication department with outsiders. You cannot tell me we do not have people with communication skills in our county.”
He said he would take the concerns to the floor of the Senate, adding that he would not stop playing his oversight role in the county.
“Some of us cannot just keep quiet when we see things are not being done the right way. Some of the workers were sacked just because they were employed by the former governor,” he said.
When he took office, the governor, who trounced former Cabinet ministers Henry Kosgey and Alex Koskei and former Governor Cleophas Lagat to the top county seat, suspended top officials in the health department in a move he said was to heal the ailing sector.
Several officials in other departments have since been sent home as the county boss continues to stamp his authority.
However, since the Jamhuri Day dismissal of the senator, the governor has avoided commenting publicly about the frosty relationship, choosing instead to speak about his plans for the county.
He did not respond to the allegations raised by Mr Cherargei despite various efforts to get a comment from him.
A struggle pitting a governor and a senator of the county is not new as Mr Sang endlessly fought with former Governor Lagat over the running of the county when he was the senator in the last Parliament.
Mr Philip Chebunet, a political analyst and a lecturer at Eldoret University, said the tussles between senators and governors since the coming of devolution were a result of the failure by the existing laws to distinctly separate the two offices.
“While the Constitution gives a broad framework for governance under devolution it offers little clarity on the hierarchy relationship between the senator and the governor. The County Government Act is actually also vague on this,” said Mr Chebunet.
He said senators ought to be cautious so as not to encroach on other leaders’ jurisdictions.