MANDAGO SUCCESSION RACE

Ambassador Bitok camps in Uasin Gishu to promote governor bid

Pakistan envoy unveils a plan of how he would transform the county.

In Summary
  • Bitok is now considered a front runner in a race that has also attracted another six aspirants seeking the UDA ticket.
  • His master plan has three main pillars—agriculture, trade and job creation.
Ambassador Julius Bitok.
UDA TICKET: Ambassador Julius Bitok.
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI

Kenya’s Ambassador to Pakistan Julius Bitok has unveiled a development plan for Uasin Gishu as he intensifies campaigns to succeed Governor Jackson Mandago next year.

Bitok is now considered a front runner in a race that has also attracted another six aspirants seeking the UDA ticket. He has served for nine years as an envoy. Mandago is serving his second and last term.

“I thank President Kenyatta for giving me the chance to serve as an envoy because it's through that position that I have served the country and gained the necessary experience and international networks that I will use to benefit Uasin Gishu”, said Bitok.

His master plan has three pillars—agriculture, trade and job creation.

"If elected, we will create wealth for the people of Uasin Gishu through an economic growth plan that I will put in place,” he said.

In Pakistan, he helped increase trade in tea as Kenya’s exports to the Asian nation almost doubled. He was awarded an MBS by President Kenyatta for his work.

Others in the Uasin Gishu race include Jonathan Bii, Soy MP Caleb Kostany and Nairobi Devolution executive Vesca Kangogo. Ngenyile MCA David Singoei is also eyeing the seat. They are all in UDA, a party associated with Deputy President William Ruto, and are crisscrossing the county to sell their agenda.

Bitok, also an educationist, was second to Mandago in URP primaries in 2012. He boasts of several strengths, including his long stint in public service and finance expertise.

Political analyst Kipchumba Kemei says while all the other UDA aspirants are from the northern part of the county, Bitok is the only one from the southern part.

“It’s the feeling of many residents that the county leadership should go to the southern part and this is strengthened by the fact that Mandago, who was also from the northern part, will be running for the Senate seat,” Kemei said.

He said Bitok’s experience and record in pubic service give him an edge and make him the front runner.

The envoy advocated UDA's bottom-up economic model. He said his entry into the fray has caused a significant shake-up in Uasin Gishu politics.

"Our county collects about Sh800 million as local revenue, which is only about Sh100 million more than what we used to collect as a county council. The low revenue is because of a poor business environment,” Bitok said.

He said he has negotiated with several investors to boost the county's agriculture and business sectors.

Businessman-cum-politician Bundotich Kiprop, better known as Buzeki, is so far the only other key aspirant who will vie as an independent.

Buzeki said he had decided to focus on his own political plans and avoid the baggage of marketing a party like UDA, which comes with many challenges, especially during the primaries.

“I have decided I will wait for all those battling in UDA so that they do what they are doing and then we meet in the premier league where I am, fully prepared for the race,” he said.

Buzeki narrowly lost to Governor Jackson Mandago in the 2017 election.

"I have supported Mandago to complete his term and now it's time to compete again,” he said.

He said losing elections is normal and politicians must learn to compete and accept results without harbouring hard feelings against each other.