‘I believe in development; Lenku believes in big words’

Q&A with Dr David Nkedianye

Dr David Nkedianye is the Kajiado gubernatorial aspirant on a Jubilee Party ticket for the August 9 General Election and was the first governor of the county under the devolved system of government. He spoke to Kajiado Star about his efforts to recapture the seat from incumbent Governor Joseph ole Lenku.

KAJIADO STAR: Governor Lenku defected to ODM yet there was a clear agreement that Kajiado had been zoned to Jubilee. This agreement had been purportedly reached by the principals, with President Uhuru Kenyatta on the Jubilee side and ODM leader Raila Odinga on the other side. We saw Raila receiving Lenku into ODM. Do you feel betrayed?

NKEDIANYE: Lenku himself said that Kajiado was a Jubilee zone. At that point he said that he had the ticket and that Azimio had finalized that agreement that Kajiado would be a Jubilee zone. I actually think he got very scared by my coming into Jubilee and possibly forgot where the ticket was and jumped to the other side.

Has there been any attempt to speak to Raila Odinga so that you don’t split the Azimio votes and you go as per the agreement?

It is very likely that there are going to be talks even at a high level because we will not do very well if we have both Lenku and I on the Azimio side. It doesn’t mean I would lose; I am still confident I will win even if we are three of us — myself, himself and an UDA competitor — but I think we would do better if it’s only one candidate from Azimio and one from the other side.

Once it becomes a three-horse race, other dynamics might come in and it becomes tricky. What gives you confidence that even in a three-horse race you hold the winning card?

I have done my arithmetic. I have already picked my running mate and he comes from Kajiado North, which is a very vote-rich area. I know [Joseph] Manje has worked very hard in Kajiado North and has a track record. I know he will bring a lot of votes.

I also have a track record; I have worked in this county before. Whether you go to Loitokitok or Mosiro or Ngong or Kitengela or Namanga or Magadi, everywhere you go, Daktari Nkedianye has a project somewhere in every ward.  That is going to give me votes and when you add these to those Manje will bring plus all other communities, I am confident that I will have a majority of votes. The projects that I have worked on have benefited people across the county regardless of their ethnic communities.

There are rumours and murmurs that the selection of a non-Maasai as your running mate has not gone down well with a section of the Maasai community and you might lose votes.

A section of pro-Lenku Maasai are not happy. They are not happy because they know it is a winning formula. I want to put the record straight that this is not the first time that somebody has picked a non-Maasai running mate. In 2013, we had Livondo [Daniel ole] Nina, who had [George] King’ori as his running mate. King’ori comes from the Kikuyu community and together they garnered 95,000 votes. That’s no mean achievement and we didn’t make a big deal out of it. In 2013, we just competed; I chose my running mate from Loitokitok and Livondo chose his running mate from Kajiado East and we went into a competition where the best team won. That is how I won. This time, Lenku is making it a big deal not because it is the first time it is happening but because he thinks that he will lose.  This is why he is blowing it out of proportion.

Whether we like it or not, we must embrace diversity. That is the way to go. We must work with other communities. For those communities that I did not pick my running mate from, I will still consider them in my government: The Kisii, the Kamba, the Luo, the Luhya, the Somali and everybody else. They have to be included in government. We cannot put together a government that will exclude people. The Maasai will have the lion’s share but these other people must also be taken into account.

In your previous government, you had five years in which to work on your projects and complete them without bogging down the next government so that you leave them free to implement their own policies. Doesn’t having incomplete projects work against you because you were trying to tie down the next government?

No, it doesn’t. You cannot dictate when government finances will come and how much. It all depends on other factors in the country. So, huge flagship projects will almost always take more time. You cannot finish a big project in one or two years.

You remember that we actually started from scratch and even proper planning takes time. Some of the projects — like the stadium in Ngong or the library in Kajiado — those huge projects are the ones that were left incomplete. The reason is that you do not just come in and start building a library. You must do planning and a feasibility study to know where to place that library. You must see how much money you have, how much revenue you collect, then make a decision to have this flagship project. Those are projects that you fund year after year because you cannot put all the money there, since there are other competing needs.

We completed so many classrooms. We employed so many doctors. In Kimana we completed the market and people went in. In Kajiado and Isinya, the same. But there are some mega projects that take a lot more money that you have to fund in multiple years.

This is not the only government that has left some projects incomplete and I can explain the same. It is incumbent upon any governor who comes in to first complete those projects before he embarks on new ones.

After five years of neglect, do you think these projects can be salvaged or will they be abandoned?

No, they will not be abandoned. They will be completed. The library is about 80 per cent done; we will complete it. We will also work on the stadium; the foundation is very sound and we will continue with that project.

Of course, we will do a feasibility study. We will bring in experts to look at whether anything needs to be beefed up. We will do it professionally.

What was so difficult with having you and Lenku sit down, gauge your strengths, and whoever is weaker steps down for the other? Wasn’t there a mechanism for deciding who the stronger candidate is so that you go in unity as one team?

If we were to do that, we would be comparing oranges with mangoes. We are totally different. His philosophy of development and how to lead and do things is so different from mine! I believe in development on the ground. He believes in being a king and a spokesperson and being this flashy leader who is all over saying big things that are not grounded. I don’t believe in those big words and flashy things; I believe in doing something that’s helping mwananchi. So, we’re worlds apart.

Your final words?

I would like to appeal to all the people of Kajiado to listen to their conscience and to make sure that they vote wisely. They have seen the five years of Lenku and they saw my five years. They saw what I did and I want to appeal to all of them to give me their support so that I can complete whatever was not completed and I can even move this county to another level in development. The greatest thing that we can do as government is to bring services closer to the people. I worked hard to make that happen; I will work even harder to make it happen.

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