April 30th 2017

Entertainment / Celebrities

Veteran teacher, trade unionist and rights activist seeks to oust Mwiti in Imenti Central

The constituency now needs, more than ever before, a forceful leader who can hold both the county and national governments accountable, a task for which he is well prepared, being a unionist who has advocated for the rights of teachers - sometimes against intense government intimidation.

By Phillip MuleeTuesday, 01 Nov 2016 20:05 EAT

Mr Nthurima at the interview today. (Photo: John Onyando/Kenya Free Press)

A trade unionist and human rights activist is to face-off with Gideon Mwiti for Imenti Central parliamentary seat in 2017 general elections. Mr Moses Nthurima, the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) deputy secretary general who is also a trained lawyer, has officially announced his candidature for the seat.

Mr Nthurima is a member of the Democratic Party (DP) on whose ticket he will contest the seat. The incumbent, Mr Mwiti, was elected in 2013 on the Alliance Party of Kenya which has since dissolved to join the Jubilee Party. Mr Nthurima, who hails from Kariene Location of Abothuguch Central Ward, is a well recognised teacher who has taught for many years in both secondary and primary schools within the constituency, which gives him an upper hand with respect to political mobilization.

Esteemed in the region for his human rights activism, Mr Nthurima was arrested and thrown into cells for a number of days during former President Daniel arap Moi’s regime. He championed constitutional reforms through the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission Diocese of Meru, and his fearlessness earned him respect from the constituents who know that he can put his life on the line for causes he believes in.

"I was passionate about the transformation of the country's governance systems and the observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms than any other considerations. At that time, those of us in the reform movement desired entrenchment of the rule of law as a prerequisite for social, political and economic progress of the country,” he recalled this afternoon at an interview with the Kenya Free Press in his Nairobi office.

Besides working with Catholic Justice and Peace Commission in providing civic education throughout the Diocese, he attracted the engagement of other pro-democracy forces including Centre for Law and Research International (CLARION), Ecumenical Civic Education Program among others. Through his human rights work, he promoted the importance of civic education to empower the public into full participation on constitutional reforms.

Looking back to that time, Mr Nthurima said, tremendous change has been realised in the country, with greater human rights protection, civil liberties and involvement by the people in the determination of their development programmes. He said that the end of the Moi regime was like a new dawn in the country, heralding an economic revival and flourishing of enterprise in which the Meru region received its due share.

He says that working with KUPPET at the national level had enabled him to observe the political process closely as he participates in national debates around education and governance, an experience that would be relevant in tackling Imenti Central's pressing developmental challenges. "What we need most at this point in Imenti Central is a leader who can work with the people in identifying solutions to the problems. Our people are very dynamic and they know the solutions to their problems. All they need is a boost, and to give this boost you need as MP someone who knows how to determine what works from what doesn't," he said, explaining that development is best realised when the people in need are fully consulted and their views catered for in decision-making.

According to information gathered by the Kenya Free Press ahead of today's interview, Mr Nthurima’s entry into the race had caused anxiety among the local political establishment, since he brings concrete experience of working with ordinary people for two decades and has powerful political networks built over the years. He has been in touch with voters in a number of development initiatives, and has contributed towards development in areas such as quality education, building of schools and facilitation of access with regard to the vulnerable children. His education agenda is resonant enough, having been elected by teachers from the area, the larger Meru and nationally as an executive official.

Among his priorities, he said, was to devise a framework to involve the people more meaningfully in not only determining their development programmes but also holding leaders to account. The constituency needs, more than any other time, a forceful leader who can hold both the county and national governments accountable, a task for which he is well prepared, being a unionist who has advocated for the rights of teachers - sometimes against intense government intimidation.

The aspirant also says that inclusivity is urgently needed in the management of the constituency's affairs and resources since people are not being involved in making choices on the projects they hold dear to their lives. “There is need to prioritize on inclusivity as the surest way towards realizing the co-operative miracle in the constituency, by narrowing down on sector specific components of development would be critical with respect to synergies”, he stressed.

Mr Nthurima believes that leadership is about synchronizing people's aspirations, fears and hopes through social dialogue. "The totality of the process would culminate in our people making informed choices, thus in the final analysis, becoming part and parcel of the larger development enterprise," he adds.

After a period of hearing from the people from all the wards in the constituency, the aspirant has hit the ground and is currently creating his campaign teams in readiness for all-out effort to get the vote. He is optimistic about his chances of winning, which he attributes both to his deep connection with the grassroots and "the democratic maturity" of the voters there, whom he said make their choices based on an individual's history and programmes rather than the parties the candidates are running on.

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