Education Featured

Lenku dares Senate in Kitengela school project

Governor hopes Dr Likimani Primary School in Kyang’ombe will give him an edge over his rivals as he seeks to endear himself to voters in Kajiado East

By Jonathan Teikan

Kajiado governor Joseph ole Lenku struck a defiant tone when he unveiled a spanking new primary school in Kyang’ombe area of Kitengela, last Friday.

His administration has built the new Dr Likimani Primary School in a record three months and on Friday, the school admitted its first batch of 520 pupils.

According to the Devolution Act, the law only allows county governments to construct and run Early Childhood Education Centres (ECDs) and vocational training centres. Primary and secondary schools are handled by the National Government and NGCDF.

As expected, there are consequences that meet governors who overstep their mandate, and that explains Lenku’s defiant tone.

He declared that he is ready and willing to be dragged before the Senate to answer to charges. “I know that people of ill-will will report me to the Senate for building this school; will you back me up when that time comes?” Lenku asked the excited crowd, which roared back that it would have his back.

Now, Lenku gets many things wrong but with Dr Likimani Primary School, he has struck gold and might have discovered the keys to unlocking the close to 40,000 votes registered in Kitengela Ward. It is an open secret that whoever carries the day in Kitengela Ward – all domiciled in one polling station: St Monica Primary School – takes Kajiado East.

Lenku is currently tied in a do or die battle with Kajiado East MP, Peris Tobiko and former governor David Nkedianye, both whom hail from Kajiado East, for the governor’s seat in 2022. During the unveiling ceremony, an upbeat Lenku directed his firepower at both Tobiko and Nkedianye.

He reminded his audience that the whole of Kitengela Ward does not have a single public primary school, in spite of Nkedianye’s five years as a governor and Tobiko’s close to ten years as area MP.

“I have made this achievement despite the fact that I have been in office for only three years, when you take into consideration the two wasted years due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” crowed Lenku.

Lenku’s words must have been music to the people of not only Kyang’ombe but the whole of Kitengela Ward, majority of whom cannot afford to enroll their children in costly private schools dotting Kitengela.

Kyang’ombe is home to majority of Kitengela residents. They are forced to take their children to Noonkopir and Athi River GK Prison primary schools, which are in the neighbouring Oloosirkon Sholinke Ward.

According to the 2019 census, Kitengela, which is comprised of Kitengela and Oloosirkon Sholinke wards, has a population of 154,436. It is clear to see why the two public primary schools are not enough for area residents who cannot afford to take their children to private schools.

By telling the people of Kyang’ombe that he is willing to be paraded before Senate to answer to charges of why he built the school, Lenku is effectively telling them that the he will take a bullet on their behalf.

If Lenku is taken before Senate, he will have become a martyr in the eyes on Kyang’ombe voters, including the parents who see him as their savior for building the school.

However, building the school was not all recklessness and bravado on the part of Governor Lenku. Billy Muiruri, the communications manager for the governor, told Kajiado Star, on phone, that they secured the backing of Ministry of Education, to build the school. “We had to secure a letter of no objection, from the ministry, which basically gave us the go-ahead with the project,” explained Muiruri. “This is after the people of Kyang’ombe persistently asked us to come to their aid.

“They came to us after they got no help from the area MP,” calimed Muiruri.

The support from the Education ministry assured, Lenku’s administration embarked on searching for land on which to build the school. “We do not have any public utility land in Kitengela; they were all grabbed a long time ago. We had to buy the land from a private individual,” said Muiruri. He added that the ten-acre piece of land was bought at a cost of Sh40 million while building the school cost them sh20 million.

The letter of no objection was issued by the then Education PS Belio Kipsang. “The fact that Dr Sarah Ruto, the CAS of Education graced the opening ceremony of the school is indicative of the fact that we have the full support of the ministry,” added Muiruri.

Muiruri added that the county government will expand the school to include a secondary school.

Lenku is not new to appearing before the Senate for the ‘wrong reasons’. He has been on a collision course with the Upper House for constructing a dormitory for Loitokitok Boys in Kajiado South and a Dining Hall for Olkejuado High School, in Kajiado Central. If these projects will endear him to the electorate, then expect him to do more of such.

The school was named after Dr Jason Likimani, a pioneer Medical Doctor in Kenya who studied in Makerere University in the 1930s.

Dr Likimani later became Permanent Secretary in charge of Health in 1967.

“We believe the stellar career of Dr Likimani in the medical career is a motivation to our children to excel in their academic pursuits,” said the Governor Lenku.

The governor should now solve perennial water problems in Kitengela and he will be assured of creating a real distance between him and his two rivals.

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