John Lonyangapuo, Kanu's only governor, ditches party
West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo —the only county chief elected on a Kanu ticket — has finally confirmed that he will not defend his seat on the party’s ticket, saying he had formed a new political outfit.
This deals a huge blow to Baringo Senator Gideon Moi’s Kanu, with West Pokot being the only county where the governor and senator are from the independence party. Fourteen of the 33 members of the county assembly are also from Kanu.
The announcement of the planned formation of another party also complicates the battle for what can be argued to be Kanu’s last frontier — after losing control of other key counties — with Deputy President William Ruto equally seeking to make inroads into the region.
Speaking in Makutano, Governor Lonyangapuo, who has been a formidable force and strong loyal member of the independence party, accused the top Kanu leadership of a plot to frustrate and sabotage his administration through the county assembly.
Even as he announced the formation of a new party, Prof Lonyangapuo insisted that the outfit will have a national outlook, and will not only focus on the Pokot as had earlier been speculated.
“My party is not Pochon (Pokot) as many purport. It has members and officials from across the country and it starts with Kenya ‘something’,” the county chief said.
He castigated a section of leaders from the county, who are still in Kanu, saying that as a leader of the party, he helped them to win seats in the 2017 General Election.
He singled out West PoKot Senator Samuel Poghisio, West Pokot County Assembly Speaker Catherine Mukenyang and West Pokot Deputy Governor Nicholas Atundonyang as those he said are out to fight him politically.
“Some people are against me, including those I used to campaign for. Mr Poghisio is my senator and without me he could not be a senator. The Speaker vied as a woman rep and terribly fell head down and legs up. I brought her to be Speaker. [I appointed] the absentee deputy governor thinking that he will bring blessings and benefits to the Pokot community because he interacts with the whites but I have waited in vain. Recently, I was sick and they thought that they would take over but now they are surprised and that I am still roaring,” said Prof Lonyangapuo.
He faulted Dr Atundonyang — who is said to be eyeing the governor’s seat on a Kanu ticket in 2022 — for absconding his duties now for four years.
“He stays in the United States with his wife. He comes and gets lost. I was even arrested by the Ethics and anti-corruption commission for protecting him. I was arrested for three hours and after that he insulted me,” the governor said.
Dr Atudonyang, who works in Texas, United States, as a neurosurgeon, fell out with the governor after being absent from the county since he went back to America early 2018.
“He alleges that bursaries are being stolen. By whom yet you are the Deputy Governor? Who chased you? If I didn't fail after Kanu, how I can fail with my home-grown party?” he posed.
Prof Lonyangapuo said the county’s 400,000 votes must be guarded, saying presidential candidates must bid for them.
“People have been accusing me of leaving bigger parties to start a smaller one. Those who want to be president should come and kneel because there are no free things,” he said.
But in response, Senator Poghisio said that West Pokot is still a Kanu zone and assured Mr Moi of 100 per cent support in his bid for the presidency. He said when the right time comes, he will lead to marshal votes for the Kanu chiarman to clinch the presidency.
“West Pokot is like a home for Gideon Moi. Prof Lonyangapuo is only playing theatrics after failing the people of West Pokot. That is not a person that should be taken seriously,” said Mr Poghisio.