Reasons second-term governors are eyeing the Senate
By Judith Gicobi
Several governors in their second and final mandates have expressed interest in running for Senate seats in their respective counties in the general election on August 9, 2022.
Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana is the latest to announce his interest in the Senate, stating that he will run for the county’s seat.
Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago, Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo-Marakwet), Samuel Tunai (Narok), and Martin Wambora (Embu) are among those actively campaigning for senatorial elections.
Although the law does not prevent second-term governors from running for office, concerns have been expressed concerning issues of integrity, conflict of interest, and possible ‘cover-up’ during an audit of their county finances while they were in office.
Former Nyamira Senator Kennedy Okong’o Mong’are, who chaired the powerful County Public Accounts and Investment Committee during its first term, said it was unethical for governors to run for Senate while being exposed to reports about the governments they controlled.
“It is a moral issue. Those second-term governors jumping to the Senate are not doing so with clean hearts. They have stolen from the counties and now want to cover up their sins in the Senate,” Monga’re told a local daily.
He advised voters not to elect them and asked for legislation prohibiting them from running for office.
Despite this fear, the governors are touting their two terms in office as assets, claiming that they understand the benefits and drawbacks of devolution and will use their Senate seats to further preserve it.
“People have asked me to vie for the Senate and I have said ‘it is okay, I will go for it’. It is a seat that fits me as well,” Stated Kivutha Kibwana.
Tolgos said that governors in their final term had consented to run for the Senate, citing concerns that individuals who had been in the House since its creation in 2013 were unaware of the issues facing devolution. The Council of Governors, chaired by Wambora, had endorsed the proposal, he stated.
“The past 10 years, devolution has not been easy. We have had several challenges and, at the Council of Governors, we have agreed among ourselves, especially the second term governors, that for us to ensure that devolution works, we need some of us to be at the Senate where devolution is being protected. A number of senators who are currently serving do not even understand what is happening at the counties,” remarked Tolgos.