Uasin Gishu County is perceived as a United Democratic Alliance (UDA) political stronghold, and the nominations taking place on Thursday as some sort of a mini-general election.
The race to succeed Governor Jackson Mandago has attracted 9 aspirants in what is expected to be a fierce contest for the UDA ticket.
Uasin Gishu, the home county of Deputy President William Ruto, holds an approximated registered voter population of 500,000 voters, a majority considered supporters of the DP and UDA.
Jonathan Bii, popularly known as ‘Koti Moja’, is one of those eyeing the governor’s seat, his third stab at the position; he once also ran against DP Ruto for the Eldoret North seat, albeit unsuccessfully.
“Kwa sababu ya kukaa na watu, nimekuwa mtu wa kule mashinani; mtu ambaye ako chini na anajua vile watu wanaishi kule chini na shida zao,” he said.
‘Koti Moja’, Swahili for one coat, has been something of an iconic political brand for Bii.
He stated: “Wakati nilitaka kuomba kura ya ugavana, my competitors wakasema nimeanza mapema, eti hii mtu ya koti moja atamaliza mwendo kweli, by the time anamaliza si hiyo koti itakuwa imekwisha?”
Also throwing his hat on the ring is Soy Member of Parliament Caleb Kositany, a close ally of the deputy president.
“Nobody should be scared about my association with the deputy president, he’s a long time friend even before we joined politics, so that has nothing to do with the leadership…it is not an added advantage,” he said.
Kositany believes he is the best person to take over from Governor Mandago, who will be fighting a different battle in the Senate race.
“Yes, I might come from a privileged family, but I was brought up in a way that I had to look up and ensure that even those who don’t have as much as we do, we should work with them and ensure that we deliver justice to everyone,” added the legislator.
Ambassador Sarah Serem is also in the race, and is famous for her firm stance when she headed the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC).
“My human resource experience…I have leadership that has been tested, tried, and found standing…I have international exposure having been a diplomat in one of the largest nations of the world,” she stated.
Ambassador Serem terms herself a safe pair of hands, but admits that the campaign trail is full of challenges.
“I heard a statement from one of the men who said the position does not fit a woman, it’s a manly position. And I said I accept that it’s not for a woman, and it’s not for a man either…it’s for a leader,” she said.
Her fellow ambassador, Prof. Julius Bitok, is also eyeing the UDA governor’s ticket; this being his second stab at the governorship.
“Election is about democracy and competition… I think I did my part last time, though there were mistakes here and there. The nominations were largely shambolic, that’s why I lost, and I’m urging the party this time round ensure they put structures so that we have free and fair nominations,” he said.
Ambassador Bitok says it is time for fresh blood, and that he is that blood.
“We have serious challenges facing our farmers, our unemployed youth, healthcare…and that is why I’m driven by the fact that I have proposals which if adopted can be able to transform our county,” he said.
Among different issues dominating the agenda, agriculture naturally cuts across as an electoral promise for all aspirants.
As the home of champions, athletes too have been incorporated in the manifestos of the different aspirants.
And like the many athletes Uasin Gishu County has produced, many aspirants will be running a race of their lives come Thursday.