Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai Biography
Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai was born 40 years ago in Narok County. He is the governor for Narok county and a member of United Republican Party and a coalition member of Jubilee Alliance.
Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai has been successful in livestock farming, tourism, agriculture and real estate. Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai is a tried and tested philanthropist having supported numerous initiatives in the education sector, in environmental conservation, in youth empowerment and equipping farmers with pedigree cattle. His vision for Narok involves exploiting the vast agricultural potential and tourism resource in the county as well as mobilizing the community in development projects. In Kenya’s 2013 general election, Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai vied in the gubernatorial elections, winning as Governor of Narok County, alongside Deputy Governor Aruasa Evalyn Chepkirui.
Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai Education Background
Undergraduate student at the University of Nairobi, degree in Public Administration and International Relations
Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai Political Positions
April 2013: Governor of Narok county
Coalition member of Jubilee Alliance
Member of United Republican Party
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Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai on corruption scandal
Narok County Governor Samuel Ole Tunai is under fire for allegedly irregularly awarding a contract to a private firm without approval from the county assembly. Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai is accused of contracting Kenya Airports Parking Services Company to collect revenue from the famous Maasai Mara game reserve. Narok North Legislator Moitalel Ole Kenta sounded the alarm and called on the Senate to move fast and investigate the Governor over what he termed as a massive corruption scandal ever to hit the county.
Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai Photo
Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai interview
Interviewer: You are a successful businessman. Why did you run for governor?
Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai: Allow me to give some background. I completed university in 1992 and joined the National Intelligence Service where I worked for 14 years. Since I was born and brought up in this area, I know there are a lot of opportunities. Narok is a sleeping giant. Before the 2010 Constitution, the system was different. Devolution is the best thing that happened to this country. The opportunities and resources provided by the 2010 Constitution for county development motivated me to seek the position of governor.
Interviewer: So what is your vision for Narok?
Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai: To develop a food secure and prosperous county. We are one of the largest counties and are endowed with all manner of resources ranging from people and wildlife. We host the eighth wonder of the world, forests, rivers and land. My intention is to take Narok to the next level by spearheading proper utilisation of resources to create jobs and improve livelihoods.
Interviewer: With all these resources, why has the county stagnated for so long?
Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai: Our challenges are historical. The Maasai did not embrace the western culture, which includes education. Secondly, the crop of leaders we had did not have the vision to transform the county. Our main focus is on agriculture, education, tourism, health and roads.
Interviewer: Talking of infrastructure, most of the roads in this rich county are impassable?
Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai: We have already started working on the roads. I know that good roads will open the economy. That is why roads are my priority. We have allocated Sh1.2 billion for construction of more than 20 roads and contractors are on site. We are repairing the road to the Mara in readiness for the high season. I can tell you with confidence that we will not go back to the kind of roads we used to have. I have made it clear that we will not condone shoddy work. In fact, I have hired an expert who is going round to monitor the quality work being done. Once the roads have been done, we will ensure continuous maintenance. We are opening all the agricultural areas in the county.
Interviewer: What is your comment on the agencies handling roads?
Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai: We have asked the national government to share the road construction equipment with counties. We are grateful they are doing that. We are pushing for a Bill to be discussed in the National Assembly seeking to make clear the difference between county and national roads. We are saying that the national government can do Class A and B roads. County governments should do Class C roads. To avoid duplication, Kenya Rural Roads Authority and Kenya Urban Roads Authority should be put under counties. But our determination in Narok is to do 1,000km of tarmac road with the support of our partners.
Interviewer: Narok is a rich agricultural county yet some people cannot feed themselves. What are you doing to reverse the situation?
Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai: Narok should be able to feed itself and this country. More than 80 per cent of barley consumed by East African Breweries Ltd (EABL) comes from Narok North. We also grow maize, potatoes, tomatoes, sugar cane and rear livestock. EABL was initially underpaying farmers but they have since doubled the payment. Our plan is to go into commercial agriculture to enable farmers create wealth.
We are borrowing best practices from Brazil where famers produce 80kg bags of maize from an acre of land. Here, we produce 10 to 15 bags. We want the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute to conduct proper research on the kind and the amount of fertiliser suitable for our farms.
We will employ and deploy agricultural extension officers to rural areas and provide storage facilities for farmers to protect them from exploitation by middlemen and improve dairy farming and beef products.
Interviewer: And how would you help the ordinary Maasai herdsman get value for his animals?
Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai: The unfortunate thing is that we are engaged in subsistence farming. We want to improve the quality of herds. We no longer have a lot of land for large herds, which produce one or two cups of milk. The emphasis should be on quality, not numbers. The county government wants to ensure we have an artificial insemination service and give bulls a break. There is fear that we might experience drought, which might kill the livestock.
We are advising herders to sell their livestock, bank the money and buy animals after the drought instead of them waiting to count carcasses. We have teamed up with an investor to set a modern abattoir to provide market for livestock farmers and add value to animal products. My government also intends to add value to wheat. We want to set up a maize miller and milk processors. We want to make sure that nothing leaves Narok without value addition.
Interviewer: Why have you failed to fix the tourism sector, which is critical for wealth creation in this county?
Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai: We have not failed. As you know, Maasai Mara is the jewel of Kenyan tourism. We are the home of the eighth wonder of the world. We have come up with the Maasai Mara Development Plan to ensure that the Mara is the best tourist site not only in Africa but also in the world.
We want to preserve the heritage for posterity, increase revenue collection and ensure that the local community benefits from the resource. We have come up with a Bill to ensure that a certain percentage of tourism revenue goes to the community.
The county government also wants all lodges and camps banned from selling Maasai cultural items and curios. This should be left to the local people. We have planned a big stakeholders’conference on tourism this month to enable us explore ways of improving tourism in a manner that benefits everybody.
We are partnering with a foreign company, which will provide sophisticated security equipment to ensure that poaching never occurs in the Mara. All staff handling the responsibility will be retrained. However, I must say that the travel advisories have hurt us. I want to tell the world that Maasai Mara is safe. The wildebeests have already started crossing from Tanzania. Kenyans and our visitors should come to the Mara and witness the spectacular migration.
Interviewer: Your recent quarrel with Equity Bank raises concern about integrity of revenue collection.
Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai: When we took over, we found that there was an agreement with the Equity Bank to collect the revenue but the county government was uncomfortable with certain provisions in the deal. We contested the matter in court and won the case. We have since advertised and a firm has been identified for the job. We now have an automated, watertight process, which has sealed all the loopholes. We are collecting much more revenue.
Interviewer: Do you agree with the proposition that education should be devolved?
Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai: Yes, county governments have had no choice but to invest in development of education infrastructure. The bursary and scholarship is not devolved. Kenyans have challenges because governments since independence have not been doing their job. How many primary schools has the government built? Most schools have been built through the harambee effort.
Interviewer: But despite this, a number of Maasai young men and girls are not attending school?
Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai: Many more Maasai have gone to school now. We have several Maasai with masters degrees without jobs. Our demand is that all parents should take their children to school or face the law.
We were the first county to come up with a Bill on bursaries. The county government committed Sh112 million to bursaries last year. I want to ensure that every Narok child goes to school. There is a challenge with staffing. We want to employ all graduates who are willing to teach at reasonable amounts.
Interviewer: Why have you stopped all land transfer transactions in Narok County?
Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai: Some wazees (old men) have been selling family land without the knowledge of their wives and children. Most of them have not gone to school and have big families. Public land has been grabbed and there are very many cases of double land allocation in Narok and Kilgoris. We have instances where one piece of land is claimed by five people.
We are intervening to stop rogue husbands disinheriting their families. We have set up a task force involving county, national government officials, locals and the business community to look into the land problem. I want the transactions stopped until the Lands Commission sets up County Land Management Boards to address the issue in a more structured way.
Interviewer: Politician William ole Ntimama has accused you of marginalising some groups in county jobs. Why are you discriminating against some people?
Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai: Mzee Ntimama is a leader we respect. He belongs in the age set of my father. We went into competitive politics and Jubilee won majority of the seats. He lost his seat. You don’t expect praise from a competitor.
The claims are not true. We have seven Maasai clans with Purko as the largest. We are also a cosmopolitan county, home to other groups such as Kalenjins. Mr Ntimama did not want us to give out any seats to non-Kalenjins. I was elected on a platform of inclusion.
Interviewer: You sound extremely confident about the transformative power of devolution. From where do you draw your optimism?
Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai: I am very optimistic about the power of devolution to transform our country. A lot of the money we are receiving goes to salaries but the little that remains will make a big difference. For instance, I am rehabilitating 16 health centres and setting up 90 dispensaries.
You can imagine the effect, given similar efforts by colleagues across the country. Devolution is building roads and supplying drugs to hospitals. Such things were not happening. Devolution is touching everybody.
We are setting up a sugar factory, which will employ 4,000 people. We are going to change this county. Come back after three years and witness the difference.
Source: Daily Nation