More than any other county with a governor serving his second term, Uasin Gishu is expected to experience a tough gubernatorial contest come 2022.
Governor Mandago was re-elected in 2017 on a Jubilee Party ticket, having garnered a cool 193,604 votes against his arch rival Bundotich Zedekiah Kiprop alias Buzeki.
Buzeki vied as an independent candidate, having lost to Mandago in the Jubilee primaries, and managed 148,121 votes in the polls.
As Governor Mandago makes his way out, political heavyweights’ determination to inherit the county’s top seat is becoming obvious every day.
What role will Mandago play in determining Uasin Gishu’s next Governor?
Will Buzeki gain enough traction this time to clinch the top seat?
Who are the newcomers into the race and how are they bound to change the county’s political face?
Who will manage to convince the cosmopolitan Uasin Gishu County voters to entrust him/her with the management of the county affairs?
Buzeki Bundotich Kiprop (BUZEKI)
Having narrowly lost to Mandago in 2017, the 2022 race is a do-or-die affair for the self-styled businessman Buzeki.
In preparation for another attempt, Buzeki has stepped up his political activities in various parts of Uasin Gishu County, always present in many public events.
There are those of the opinion that Buzeki’s greatest political undoing is his unending fierce rivalry with DP Ruto, a key determinant of the political landscape in the Rift valley.
Buzeki last year joined Chama Cha Mashinani, a party which is led by former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto, also a long-time rival of DP Ruto.
This has severally put the businessman turned politician at loggerheads with DP Ruto’s key allies in the region, among them Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi.
Buzeki has on several occasions openly confronted DP Ruto’s allies in the County, accusing them of among other things engaging in undemocratic activities meant to favor his opponents in the race.
In one of the exchanges with Ruto’s aide Farouk Kibet, Buzeki accused Ruto of bankrolling Jonathan Bii to succeed Mandago in 2022 with an intention of looting the county resources.
But according to Buzeki, he is the best man to succeed Governor Mandago and would do a better job in making Uasin Gishu a model county.
A renowned human resource mogul, Vesca Kangogo made her first attempt on the Uasin Gishu County Gubernatorial seat in 2013 but lost to Governor Mandago at the URP nominations.
She was later appointed as the Vice-Chairperson of the Nairobi County Public Service Board in the Kidero era.
Vesca currently serves as the Cecm Environment Energy Water And Natural Resources in Nairobi County.
Kangogo holds a Bachelor of Education Arts degree from Kenyatta University, Higher National Diploma in Human Resource Management, MBA in Strategic Management and is also an accomplished CPS(K) holder.
Jonathan Kimeli Bii (Chelilim)
Despite unsuccessfully vying for several political seats in Uasin Gishu, Jonathan Bii alias Chelilim remains a prominent politician in the county.
His popularity is said to have skyrocketed when he contested against Deputy President William Ruto for the Eldoret North MP seat in 2002 and 2007 on a KANU ticket.
However, Chelilim has since joined the Ruto camp, and last year he joined the Jubilee Party in readiness for the 2022 campaigns.
His decision to join the pro-Ruto camp attracted the much-needed support from the region’s political heavyweights including Soy MP Caleb Kositany, Kapseret’s Oscar Sudi, and DP Ruto’s personal aide Farouk Kibet.
Several MCAs are also said to be supporting Bii’s bid to replace Mandago.
Prof. Julius Bitok
Another likely aspirant is Prof Julius Bitok, currently the High Commissioner in Pakistan.
Bitok also vied for the seat in 2017 and has kept his political networks alive.
There are those of the argument that Bitok’s ethnic arithmetic will always give him an upper hand in the race, considering he hails from the populous Nandi community.