The gubernatorial race in Tharaka Nithi County is shaping up with several aspirants causing the incumbent Onesmus Muthomi Njuki sleepless nights despite his bravado gimmicks in public.
Many have thrown their hats into the race but the imminent threat at the moment is Chuka University Vice-Chancellor Prof. Erastus Njoka. The Senior University Don has used his obvious infrastructural transformation in the institution of higher learning to gain enormous mileage.
It is a fact that Prof. Njoka is the engine behind the fast growth of the relatively young university in Tharaka Nithi County that is soon moving beyond the Eastern region to establish a campus in the City of Nairobi.
Speaking during the Chuka University 8th graduation ceremony last week, the University’s Governing Council Chairman Dr. Julius Rotich said under his watch and the university management under the able leadership of Prof. Njoka, the university has seen tremendous growth in infrastructure, students and staff members.
“In addition to Embu, Igembe and Chogoria campuses, plans are under way to establish a campus in the heart of Nairobi, on Elimu Plaza which the University acquired recently. We are proud to be associated with Tharaka University College, which is a constituent college of Chuka University,” Dr. Rotich disclosed.
Prof Njoka who is serving his second and last term as the Chuka University Vice Chancellor is using his ‘Transformative Leadership’ slogan to clear the way and make a thunderous entry into politics with much hope to unseat his former ally Muthomi Njuki. The Senior University don is banking on his excellent infrastructure performance as the varsity’s Chief Executive Officer to convince the county residents to elect him in 2022.
The academician has embarked on a rigorous tour of the county planting trees, donating foodstuff, and attending various events where he discredits Governor Njuki’s leadership style as ‘Transactional Leadership’ and blames him for ‘lack of development’ in the devolved unit. He has even in a veiled reference to Njuki accused a senior politician of plotting to make the university ungovernable by dishing cash to students.
It might not be an easy task though. While Njuki will play a lion in most instances, the Tharaka Nithi governor will occasionally hoist himself to the level of his prey, if need demands. This with a few other tricks he has learnt over his quite established political career has kept him afloat even in the face of a corruption case he is facing in court.
While both Njuki and Prof. Njoka come from the same Chuka/Igambang’ombe constituency, the latter is publically enticing the Tharaka community with Tharaka University College, a constituent college of Chuka University to gain mileage in the constituency and increase the votes into his basket.
The VC argues that the college is a clear indicator of the great love for the people of Tharaka to clean himself off the ‘tribal blemishes’ which his competitors are capitalizing on to advance enmity with the Tharaka and Igambang’ombe residents.
He is equally capitalizing on the Chogoria campus that was opened recently to lure residents of Maara constituency to crown his victory.
Other entrants into the gubernatorial race are the National Museums of Kenya Director-General Dr. Mzalendo Kibunja, Gitari Mbuki and the current Senator Prof Kithure Kindiki. However, Njuki has vowed to defend his seat strongly.
Prof Njoka, Mbiuki, and Governor Njuki are from the Chuka sub-tribe while Prof. Kindiki and Dr. Kibunja come from the Tharaka community.
Events during Christmas festivities last year revealed that Felix Gitari Mbiuki, the founder and patron to the Gitari Mbiuki Foundation and the current Clerk of the Machakos County Assembly is salivating for Tharaka Nithi top seat.
He hopes to capitalize on his position as the patron of the Gitari Mbiuki Foundation whose vision is to “Reach out to the most vulnerable members of the community and help them improve their standards of living through education, wealth creation and sustainability”.
He utilized the Christmas festivities last year to advance its agenda when he unveiled his political ambitions.
After sharing Christmas gifts with Chuka Jamia mosque (Muslim) as a way to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ with other religions on December 25, the Gitari Mbiuki Foundation patron spent the day with Kama boda boda group in Chiakariga ward, where he donated reflector jackets and supported in their table banking besides addressing the risks and challenges faced by boda boda operators.
Thereafter, he proceeded to Kamuganka Welfare Group Annual general meeting and closed the day business at Kamanyaki primary school alumni meeting in aid of constructing dormitories for an upcoming secondary school in the compound.
On Boxing Day Mbiuki, whose father Mzee Stanley Mbiuki Kararwa passed on in August the same year, visited the Tharaka spiritual leader Mugwe to seek his blessings in his bid to capture the Tharaka Nithi county gubernatorial position in the 2022 general elections.
Speaking to reporters on arrival at the Mugwe’s residence in Nkunguru village, Tharaka Constituency, Mbiuki lamented over the state of the roads in the county and promised to ensure all areas in the county were accessible by road among other development undertakings. Probably he will resurface this festive season as well.
Tharaka Nithi County that is known for tilting the presidential tally in national general elections is made up of three constituencies, Chuka/Igambang’ombe, Maara and Tharaka with a total of 213,154 registered voters according to the 2017 General Election Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) register.
According to the register; Chuka/Igambang’ombe constituency topped with the highest number of registered voters in the county at 76, 486 followed by Maara constituency with 68,729 and lastly Tharaka constituency with 67, 939 votes.
By David Mutwiri