Ntonyiri Constituency: Former allies out to send Anglo Leasing whistle blower packing

The MP who raised the red flag on Anglo Leasing scandal that still haunts Kibaki administration is the only legislator who is facing fewer opponents in the larger Meru region.

Only 10 rivals so far are lining up against Mr Maoka Maore in Ntonyiri constituency.

He was the only politician to have won in 2002 on Kanu ticket in the region despite the strong Narc wave then.

But Mr Maore will be looking over his shoulders as he could face invisible hands from politicians outside Ntonyiri with whom he has crossed paths.

It is not lost on the Ameru that it was Mr Maore who burst the Anglo Leasing scam that eventually sent Mr Kiraitu Murungi and Mr David Mwiraria to the cold.

Mr Murungi has since been re-appointed Energy minister while Mr Mwiraria was returned to the Cabinet only last week as the minister for Environment and Natural Resources.

He hopes that the two ministers would have strong opponents in their constituencies to keep them busy and away from Ntonyiri.

Stiff challenge

At home, Mr Maore is facing stiff challenge from two of his former allies-turned-foes – Mr Ntoitha M’Mithiaru and Dr Thiakunu Katheru Mwirabua.

Others are: A former MP, Mr Joseph Muturia, Mr Charles Meeme M’Ithianyai, Mr Amos Kiumo, Mr Erastus Mururu, Mr John Mati Lautani and Mr Joseph Mithika.

Dr Mwirabua and Mr M’Mithiaru come from Mutuati division while Mr Maore comes from Laare division which borders Isiolo District.

Ntonyiri is the farthest constituency in the larger Meru region and borders Isiolo to the East, Igembe to the West and the Meru National Park lies to the south. It has three divisions – Mutuati, Laare and Ndoleni.

Khat (miraa) farming is the economic mainstay for this largely semi-arid constituency.

But poverty is written all over in the constituency that earns a lot of money from miraa exports, with individuals raking in as much as Sh20,000 a month from the crop.

Ntonyiri does not have a single river crossing through it and water problems have been persistent.

The Catholic Diocese of Meru has set up water supply programme that draws piped water all the way from Nyambene hills to residents within a 30-kilometre radius.

The rest of the population rely on community water canteens where a 20-litre container is sold at Sh5 while others have to buy water from vendors or walk up to 20 kilometres to a borehole.

Dropout rate

The constituency is characterised by a high primary school dropout rate, majority of whom are boys. They are quickly absorbed as labourers in the thriving miraa plantations.

No politician has been bold enough to speak out against child labour, for this could easily cost one a fortune.

The politics in Ntonyiri and the larger Meru region where miraa is to be found revolve around the crop.

Then there is the issue of constant wildlife attacks from the Meru National Park where people from Kawiru, Antubetwe Kiongo, Luciuti and Kabachi locations have lived with for years. The electric fence which is being erected has not yet been completed.

Mr M’Mithiaru is a former senior manager at the Central Bank of Kenya who contested against Mr Maore in the last General Election and came second.

It is him and Dr Thiakunu who campaigned vigorously for Mr Maore when he returned home from the USA in 1992 and helped send him to Parliament as the youngest MP at the time.

Dr Thiakunu, who operates a nursing home in Maua in the neighbouring Igembe constituency says the MP deserted them along with a group of professional who helped him go to Parliament in 1992.

Mr M’Mithiaru, who contested against the MP in the last elections and lost, is seeking a revenge.

He promises to use his financial professional skills and expertise to bring about sound management and discipline in the running of the CDF kitty, which he says is mismanaged.

He has served as chairman of Igembe Development Organisation, which addresses the development and promotion of education standards in both Ntonyiri and Igembe constituencies.

To rescue miraa farmers from unscrupulous dealers, Mr M’Mithiaru promises to fight for miraa to be recognised as an export commodity and shop for its markets abroad.

Strongest challenger

He has been working with local youths guiding them on how to empower themselves through the Youth Fund by initiating income generating programmes.

Mr M’Mithiaru is contesting on a Narc Kenya ticket, which he is the local branch chairman.

He has big support in Laare where he resides and is being seen as the strongest challenger to Mr Maore.

Mr M’Mithiaru is said to enjoy the support of Mr Mwiraria and Mr Murungi, which keeps him a notch higher than the other aspirants.

But the fact that his former ally Dr Thiakunu is also seeking a Narc-K ticket complicates issues, with party supporters urging him to decamp to DP where they have promised to help wrest the ticket from Mr Maore.

Mr Muturia is also bound to scoop the votes from his Ntunene home and Antuambui, the only place where he helped conclusively resolve the issue of land adjudication when he served as assistant minister for Lands.

He is currently in private business but at 73, his chances of serving the area again are dwindling by the day.

Mr M’Ithianyai, 53, works with a non-governmental organisation in Sierra Leone and he will be trying his luck for the second time, having contested in the 2002.

Mr Kiumo is currently the Nyambene county council chairman seeking to add another feather to his cap.

Mr Kiumo, who hails from Athiru location, joins Mr Mururu as the only candidates from Ndoleni division, a factor that could make him have an edge over his opponents.

Mr Lautani, 48, who is a preacher with the Methodist Church, is the executive director of Golden Services Organisation and has a wealth of experience in NGOs management, having worked with Plan International as a programme manager.

All the candidates are riding on what they term Kibaki-friendly parties.

Not a push-over

Those who know Mr Maore will no doubt agree that he is not a push-over.

He served two terms on a DP ticket since 1992 before he decamped to Kanu during the 2002 elections.

He has since “returned home” to DP at a ceremony in Nairobi and went straight to announce in his constituency on April 26.

Mr Maore, who exudes confidence that he will easily recapture the seat, will be campaigning over his development record that includes tarmacking of the 24-km Mailitatu-Mutuati road.

One credit that even his political foes admit is restoration of security in an area where cattle rustling had become the norm.

Mr Maore says he is not bothered with accusations that he has put his political allies and relatives to manage the CDF.

Sh1.3 billion project

He will be reminding the voters of the Sh6 million Thera Health Centre in Ndoleni division and a bore hole he has helped sink at Ndumuru in Laare division.

He says tenders will be floated next week for the sinking of more bore holes at a cost of Sh10 million while a 37-km stretch of the Kawiru-Antubetwe-Kachuru road is set to be upgraded. The contractor is already on site to undertake the Sh1.3 billion project.

In an area where mastery of gab becomes an asset, the scramble for votes is on and only time will tell whether Mr Maore will survive another term.

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One Response to Ntonyiri Constituency: Former allies out to send Anglo Leasing whistle blower packing

Anonymous said...

Hi siRKen,i guess is time you included the name of one of the serious aspirant i have met so far...Mr Joseph Mutharimi.
The guy is young,energtic and seems to have a clear vision of where he wants to see Ntonyiri(Igembe North)in the next few years.
Apart from this,from my own research he is the only aspirant who has dared the incumbent.ie Gone to campaign to Mheshimwa Maoka's backyard.