The candidates running for the governorship of Vihiga County for the Aug. 9 election have narrowed their manifestos to youth empowerment and job creation.
Governor Wilber Ottichilo, defending his seat on an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party map, faces him with former Governor Moses Akaranga of the Progressive Party of Kenya (PPoK).
Other candidates in the running include Senator George Khaniri of the United Democratic Party (UDP), Sabatia MP Alfred Agoi of the Amani National Congress (ANC) and former county secretary Francis Ominde of the Federal Party of Kenya (FPK).
Governor Ottichilo, who was the last to publish his manifesto, said he is optimistic his good performance in the first term will carry him to a second term as he now shifts his focus to the youth agenda.
He said he intends to implement the Youth Service Act, creating several avenues in which the county government will empower youth.
“Young people are crucial for the upswing of our district; Therefore, we insist that more efforts should be made to support them after winning our second term,” said Dr. Ottichilo during the presentation of his manifesto in Gisambai on Friday.
dr Ottichilo promised to attract more investors to boost the county’s economy by making investments that can create jobs for the young population.
“I call on local people to come on board and contribute to this noble roadmap so that we can work towards development together,” said Dr. ottichilo.
The governor said his administration will focus on a 10-point development agenda, including empowering women, youth and people with disabilities.
He also pledged to focus on providing affordable health care, access to education, promoting infrastructure, food security, sports, culture and tourism, providing clean water and tackling climate change.
“I present my vision in this manifesto, which will come into effect from August 2022. I feel revitalized and eager to continue to transform our county into a thriving entity, with a particular focus on creating a unified purpose among our leaders and directly engaging people on issues of socioeconomic development,” said Dr. ottichilo.
dr Ottichilo also pledged to focus on the social development of the county’s residents during his second term when he is re-elected on Aug. 9.
He said although his government has made remarkable progress in implementing their 2017-2022 manifesto, they have still encountered some implementation challenges.
“Like the previous manifesto, this one will also focus on the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with particular emphasis on climate change as a cross-sectoral agenda and the overall economic transformation of our country,” said Dr. ottichilo.
like dr Ottichilo also put Mr. Ominde in his manifesto on persuading young voters to vote for him. He said he plans to develop a policy that will include youth in all district departments.
Mr Ominde went further to show his commitment by selecting a young Deputy Governor, 29-year-old Wycliffe Chabaya.
“Vihiga district is in an unemployment crisis with no clear job opportunities for any category of its residents. To mitigate and reduce these challenges, our government will profile and document all of its residents between the ages of 18 and 40,” reads part of Mr Ominde’s manifesto.
The candidate also plans to give all 10 county offices specific annual targets for job creation.
“At least 70 percent of all contracts with our new district government should be awarded to local businesses and companies.
“All companies dealing with our county government must ensure that at least 70 per cent of their employees are local residents,” Mr Ominde said.
Another plan outlined by Mr Ominde is the establishment of the Vihiga County Youth Service (VCYS) database, which will help track and recruit youth based on their qualifications for available employment opportunities.
The Youth Service database will go hand-in-hand with the development of an internship program to ensure that all college-educated youth receive internship opportunities in the county.
This is based on the premise that the district does not have industries capable of absorbing the entire workforce, therefore most youth are forced to move to other districts in search of work.
Just like Mr Ominde, Senator Khaniri chose a young politician, Jerald Samoyo, as his running mate, saying it will allow him to nurture youth for future leadership.
“Our main agenda will revolve around youth and women. We intend to invest in them as we also try to work closely with people with disabilities,” Mr Khaniri said.
Former Gov. Moses Akaranga and incumbent Sabatia MP Alfred Agoi have also focused on directly engaging youth in hopes of winning their votes.
Vihiga has a total of 310,043 voters spread across five constituencies.