As Jubilee Party prepares to hold its primaries for 7, 893 aspirants on April 21, the stage has been set in Nandi County where the incumbent Dr Cleophas Lagat will face off with former long-serving Tindiret MP Henry Kosgey and former agriculture cabinet secretary Felix Koskey.
Governor Lagat faces a big hurdle ahead of him reflecting a series of graft related cases around his neck.
Last month, an Eldoret based human rights group petitioned the Ethics Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to lock out Dr Lagat and three other North Rift region Governors from contesting in the polls.
This follows public outcry from residents that the county chiefs are unable to explain how they have spent billions of shillings allocated to their counties.
In the infant stages of devolution, Nandi County hit the headlines over the construction of the controversial multi-million gate at Mlango near Uasin – Gishu, a proposal that attracted public criticism on how the county governments are mismanaging funds.
The residents demanded reports of status of development projects and spending from the county government to ensure accountability and transparency in resources utilization.
They also suspected that the ten million shillings allocated for the renovation of the Nandi Rock Tourist attraction site was embezzled by top ranking county officials.
The ten million shillings allocated in the 2014-2015 financial year was to cater for the gravelling of Kimaren – Nandi Rock road, erection of ladders, walk ways, fences and toilets on the site so as to make it more appealing to tourists.
In 2015, Governor Lagat appeared before the Senate Legal Affairs Committee, to answer to audit queries, raised by the auditor general about county spending.
Lagat was grilled over alleged dubious hiring of graders for 7 million shillings, tree planting for 5 million shillings, and illegally paying some MCAs 10 million shillings, among other queries.
The Senate Legal Affairs and Human Rights committee, which was chaired by Nominated Senator Fatuma Dullo, demanded answers from the Governor over the alleged flawed distribution of bursary funds and Procurement irregularities by his administration.
Governor Lagat admitted that there might have been some flaws in the procurement process for the construction of roads since the tendering process was done hastily in order to beat time.
The Senate Committee also queried the Ksh 8,134,476 bursary payments which the County Government promised to provide evidence of the procedure and criteria used to identify the needy students.
The actual allocation for the bursary funds was Ksh 7,200,000 but the county government disbursed an excess of Ksh 934,476 without being supported by any authority.
The EACC, the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations are mandated to clear all aspirants before they present their certificates to the electoral commission.
In March 2015, Mr Koskey resigned from President Uhuru’s government where he served as the agriculture cabinet secretary.
Koskei, an appointee of Deputy President William Ruto, bowed to pressure even after indicating that he would not resign. Koskei maintains he is innocent.
During his tenure, Koskei headed one of the biggest cabinet dockets in government.
He decided to step aside after his name featured in it the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
This is a big blow to a man who is seeking to be in-charge of county resources.
Already, over one million residents of Nandi have rejected Koskei’s bid indicating that they cannot trust him with county resources.
This new development puts Mr Kosgey ahead of the two aspirants reflecting his track record.
Currently, pollsters have put Kosgey ahead as the most popular gubernatorial candidate in Nandi County if elections were held today.
With 700 respondents aged 18 years and above across the entire county, Mr Kosgey a former long-serving cabinet minister would win the elections if they were held today, according to Trends and Insights For Africa (Tifa).
The survey conducted in Bomet, Siaya, Nandi and Murang’a counties has also shown that party affiliation only matters in the presidential elections.
Mr Kosgey has the support of 36 per cent followers of the ruling Jubilee Party of Kenya ahead of Koskey who is at 21 per cent.
Mr Kosgey has been on record reminding people of Nandi of the need for the Kalenjin people to remain united under Jubilee party if they were to realize any tangible progress in 2017 and eventually 2022 when the current Deputy President William Ruto is expected to vie for the top seat.