Nairobi Governor’s Battle: A Teaser for Wamalwa

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Politics Made Easy with Blamuel Njururi

Nairobi Governor’s Battle: A Teaser for Wamalwa

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The Magnificent 7 battle

By Blamuel Njururi, Nairobi – August 3, 2016

Wamalwa’s candidature in Nairobi gubernatorial election poses complicated political future if perceived by Nairobians to be driven by State House as “Uhuru Project”

The battle for capital City of Nairobi Governor’s office next year will define the financial Goliath who can weather the gigantic ethnic typhoons on which the 2017 elections will ride.

Doubtless next year Nairobi gubernatorial race will be the most expensive ever. Contestants will paint the city red in millions of shillings screaming pledges that have been made every election time in billboards, posters, T-shirts and public rallies. Already campaign teams are taking shape. One team is giving MPs Ksh 200,000 and MCAs Ksh 100,000 respectively, every weekend outing to buy support.

To date Nairobi residents have been bombarded with declarations of intent by a shy Cabinet Secretary, two ambitious Members of Parliament, Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru, nominated MP and TNA chairman Johnston Sakaja, a cash-laden Senator Mike Mbuvi, a motivated Bishop and former Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru., a law stickler and former MP for Kilome John Mwau, a wavering politician-in-making Anne Waiguru marking a line up of initial team of financially well-heeled Magnificent 7. Other opportunistic political fortune seekers will make a bid for the capital city leadership as election draw nearer.

The latest name that is raising considerable interest in Nairobi and beyond is Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa – a former Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister. The other name of considerable interest is current Governor Evans Kidero. Hitherto Kidero has been perceived to enjoy political goodwill from both President Uhuru Kenya of Jubilee and opposition Cord alliance principal leader Raila Amolo Odinga.

Eloquent and highly articulate Eugene Ludovic Wamalwa as Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Water and Irrigation says he still has a lot of work to do in that post. He was nominated as the Cabinet Secretary for Water and Irrigation Services on 17 April 2015. He has been endorsed as appropriate candidate for Nairobi Governor’s seat by a group of Kiambu politicians sparking off a conundrum that will give him sleepless nights.

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Uhuru: Drawing a Nairobi Governor project?

Wamalwa’s candidature in Nairobi gubernatorial election poses complicated political future if perceived by Nairobians to be driven by State House as has been argued by some city MPs. The tag “Uhuru Project” however popular President Uhuru Kenyatta may be nationally, will work against Wamalwa like “Moi Project” worked against Uhuru in 2003 and “State House Project” against Musalia Mudavadi in 2013.

Mudavadi had been touted as potential TNA presidential candidate in place of Uhuru until mashetani (demons) came knocking and the plan was abandoned. Some political pundits predict Wamalwa could meet with a similar predicament if he swallows Kiambu endorsement bait, hook and sinker.

His best bet, some argue, should be to secure a seat in Mulembe Nation from where he can seek national leadership in 2022. Indeed, he could change course of Mulembe Nation politics if he breathed life into the recently announced Mulembe Nation conscience as the flag bearer. Such a move could coalesce long overdue Luhya voting power as do Luos, Kikuyus, Kalenjin and to Kambas. Wamalwa cannot afford to run away from ethnic nature of Kenya and Nairobi politics and with the hope of mushrooming into national power from Nairobi – charity begins at home.

Wamalwa however, appears determined to venture into Nairobi with his rural support giving non-Luhya Nairobians reason to say they don’t want a Governor imposed upon them from outside or by State House. Imposition of elective leaders attained notoriety during the Moi dictatorship but political and personal freedoms brought about by multiparty democracy and a new Constitution can work against Wamalwa.

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Wamalwa: Whistling too early for the party?

The timing, a whole year before the General Election, is considered by political observers as gross miscalculation that could trigger ethnic tensions within the City. Demands made by Luhya community leaders invited by Wamalwa to Nairobi, who are fronting so-called Third Force, will add fuel to a political inferno that can go out of control by creating a three-tier antagonism between Kikuyu, Luo and Luhya communities in Nairobi’s slum settlements that host the bulk of voters.

The Luhya leaders appear to be already spoiling for Wamalwa by demanding that Jubilee gives them the Nairobi Governor as if it will be handed on a platter by State House. That in itself is a slap on Uhuru’s face who will be consindered undemocratic if he interferes with party nomination process to favour Wamalwa.

The Water and Irrigation cabinet secretary should take the earliest opportunity to distance himself from undemocratic demands perhaps tailored to ruin his political career by Kiambu Mafia and his Luhya supporters. They are also demanding for the Majority Leader of business in Parliament be given to a Luhya – an exercise of counting the chicks before they are hatched. Their preposterous demands are very similar to a witch-doctor demanding “crocodile tears” from his clients before prior to treatment.

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Sources within the Jubilee coalition have revealed that Deputy President William Ruto is behind the push to name Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa as the next governor of Nairobi. Ruto is said to have convened a meeting with a section of Nairobi Members of County Assembly (MCAs) affiliated to Jubilee at his office two months ago. The main agenda being how to drum up support for Mr Wamalwa.

The private meeting was reportedly attended by Minority Leader Patrick Ngaruiya, Minority Whip Hashim Kamau, Deputy Minority Whip Michael Wainaina and MCA Ms Millicent Mugadi. A source privy to the meeting, said they agreed that the MCA’s were to start popularising Wamalwa among the city electorate before his launch is made official early next year. They left with smiling faces and it’s anybody’s guess why.

“The decision was taken in May in Ruto’s office and there is no going back on it,” says one of the members present at the meeting. If in reality Ruto is sponsoring Wamalwa bid for Nairobi Governor, he would do it for two reasons – to woo him as potential running mate in 2022 or finish him politically once rejected by Nairobians.

If Ruto considers Wamalwa a potential challenger in 2022, next year would be best time to extinguish his dreams. Wamalwa will even be worse off as a “Ruto Project” than “State House Project”. He will be rejected by Nairobians and running back home won’t help his cause.

Wamalwa’s anticipated bid for the gubernatorial seat has triggered fireworks within the Jubilee coalition. Last Tuesday, a group of Jubilee MP’s led by Starehe MP Maina Kamanda confronted Ruto in his office demanding to know why he had endorsed ‘an outsider’ to go against the incumbent Governor Kidero. An MP present during the confrontation warned Ruto that endorsing Wamalwa would affect his political future after 2017 – meaning it would affect Kikuyu support for him.

He was told that if he continues with his plan, the Kikuyus in Nairobi will reconsider their position, especially after next elections. He was also reminded that it is he who will need the community after the 2017 elections and not the other way round. Ruto has however, denied being behind the move to front Wamalwa saying some people were accusing him falsely. Uhuru is also reported to view the move unfavourably.

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Ruto and Wamalwa: Who is fooling who?

Nairobi Senator Sonko reacted to the endorsement saying if Jubilee gives Wamalwa a direct nomination, he would vie for the seat as an independent candidate. Of late the Nairobi Senator has expressed his intention to join opposition Cord is his tribesman Kalonzo is its flag bearer. He too is asking Kalonzo to deliver Crocodile tears knowing very well that Cord leader Raila Odinga cannot let go Cord’s presidential torch – his last serious bid against increasingly diminishing chances.

Politicians led by Waititu also triggered thinly veiled inter-ethnic rivalry between Nairobi’s dominant Kikuyu tribe. Baba yao flanked bb Kanini Kega (Kieni), Ferdinand Waititu (Kabete), Jude Njomo (Kiambu Town) and Mpuru Aburi (Tigania East), endorsement for Wamalwa provoked a prompt rebuff from Maina Kamanda, who is from Murang’a and whose business community claim greater business ownership within the city than its Kiambu and Nyeri counterparts. Wamalwa candidature will be swayed negatively by growing Muranga politicians’ resentment in recent years.

Murang’a business community domination over Nairobi was initiated by independent Minister for Commerce and Industry Gikonyo Kiano and expanded by the first African Nairobi Mayor Charles Rubia and Maina Wanjigi. Murang’a investors swiftly bought out Asian business premises in parts of the capital city under Rwathia and Rwathia-Njoguini Groups. Both Wanjigi and Rubia later lost favour with Moi because of their strong support for community business domination and growing number of hawkers in the city.

Rwathia Village is in Kangema, Muranga acquired billions worth of businesses in the capital city than any other Kenyan businessmen. The new generation of Rwathia entrepreneurs include Equity Bank Chairman Peter Munga, Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi, billionaire investment banker Jimnah Mbaru and insurance magnate Benson Wairegi. Other Murang’a business pioneers included Kenneth Matiba.

Even with ease proximity of the city Kiambu Kikuyu preferred white-collar office jobs as the elite in Jomo Kenyatta government pursuing civil service supremacy along with Nyeri and Nyanza Luo. They literally left the city’s economic supremacy to Murang’a and the dominant Asian community.

Most Murang’a politicians graduated from grassroots MPs after their tenures as councillors within the city. Their business affinity suffered a great deal during the 24 years of Moi era when Rubia was thrown out the cabinet to be followed later by Kenneth Matiba, who were the pillars of Murang’a investments.

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Matiba and Rubia: Murang’a pioneer business icons

Rubia was succeeded by Mayor Izaac Lugonzo from Baluhya community who in turn was succeeded by Kenyatta’s daughter Margaret Wambui. Margaret was replaced by Andrew Ngumba, who was in turn replaced by Nathan Kahara from Murang’a but Kahara’s tenure was cut short by Moi with introduction of a series of commissions from 1983 to 1992.

Nairobi has had eleven Kikuyu community Mayors out of since independence. Deputies were shared among other communities as were chairs of important committees. Other four Mayors have been one from Luhya community and three from Luo community. The last group of Mayors generally compromise candidates influenced by Kibaki-Raila two tenure partnerships.

Nairobi Mayors since independence

Charles Rubia 1963 1967 First African mayor of Nairobi
Isack Lugonzo 1967 1970
Margaret Kenyatta 1970 1976
Andrew Ngumba 1977 1980
Nathan Kahara 1980 1983
VACANT 1983 1992 Abolished by Daniel Arap Moi and run by a succession of Commissions
Steve Mwangi 1993 1994
Dick Waweru 1994 1996
John King’ori 1996 1998
Sammy Mbugua 1998 1999
John Ndirangu 1999 2001
Dick Waweru 2001 2002
Joe Aketch 2003 2004
Dickson Wathika 2004 2008
Geoffrey Majiwa 2008 2010
George Aladwa 2010 2012

Murang’a leaders lost grip of business control after Moi disbanded Nairobi City Council then under Mayor Kahara, a former newspaper vendor, who was running the city like a kiosk he owns near the Central Railways station. For a decade successive city commissions saw the emergence of competing business forces drawing their power from Moi’s State House whose modus operandi was run away mismanagement and grabbing of billions of shillings worth of City Council assets and resources abated by a string of Town Clerks out to make a quick kill.

Collapsing buildings have become common place in Kidero’s era as corruption became City Hall currency – Courtesy Citizen TV Kenya

Their efforts to reorganize and recoup their grip over Nairobi business sway after Moi era were complicated by the entry of President Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga ten-year term that saw the city affairs control slip into the hands of Nyeri’s Dick Wathika and thereafter, successive Orange Democratic Party Mayors, including notorious “last bullet” Nairobi ODM chairman Aladwa and finally climaxing with first ODM Governor Evans Kidero.

Now Murang’a leaders, with some other allies, consider it important to claim back leadership of the City Hall and reclaim the capital city lost glory. They have seen the city government estates deteriorate and downgrade into slums while no new residential estates have come up since the last ones Huruma and Buru Buru initiated by Margaret in 1970s. They have seen retail markets like Jericho go up in flames and are never repaired while kiosks, stalls and hawkers flourish all over.

They are particularly concerned over the ever deteriorating business and residential environment with dilapidated city infrastructure and mountains of garbage that have become a way of life in the city. They consider such unhygienic features and garbage landmarks as bad for business and human habitation that need resolute action by those with the highest stakes. They are furious that City Hall became a conduit for corruption deals that cost lives in collapsing buildings and flooded roads.

1. Kidero Roads

They are expected to coalesce their vicious campaigns around the “poor services offered by his administration.” Waweru, who, like Wamalwa, has received the blessing of the Nairobi city’s Jubilee MPs, said residents are going through hell and have to contend with the choking uncollected garbage, poor roads and unending traffic congestion coupled with high slum population.

However, to reclaim City Hall politically will not be a walk in Uhuru Park. Current ethnic population demographics far outstrip business concerns in the choice of the capital city Governor and other elected representatives. The city has a rich mixture of all major ethnic blocks in Kenya with voting power that will require intricate political bridge building.

To arrive at a winning candidate will be tricky for the four dominant communities of Kikuyu, Luo, Baluhya and Kamba, who are also have the highest political stakes in the presidential race in 2017. Kikuyu candidates have in the past lost to other city communities because several of them vie for single political seats and spread their votes thin.

The incumbent Evans Kidero promises to give the other contenders a run for their money and ethnic combinations. He is headed to be Cord’s sole candidate since nobody in the coalition has challenged him yet for the opposition ticket. Kidero, known for his financial muscle, says he will seek for re-election to complete the projects he claims he initiated in the first term.

Kidero, the biggest threat to all other contenders, has already assembled “Team Kidero” campaign team, headed by his disgraced Chief of Staff George Maina, and will soon, launch his re-election campaign strategy. There are reports he bought his ODM nomination in 2013 for a cool Ksh 50 million – a feat he can repeat comfortably after 5 years at the City Hall helms.

Kidero will however, momentously rely on the Cord leader Raila Odinga’s popularity in Nairobi and impress upon him to prevail upon co-principals in – Wiper Party and Ford Kenya – not field candidates. In a bid to endear himself to Raila, Kidero has reportedly marshaled a solid financial war-chest to support Raila’s ODM 2017 campaigns, with 10 choppers and 47 Nissan Navarras, one for every county.

His deputy Jonathan Mwangagi Mweke is Mkamba of Wiper party. Kidero hopes could be raptured by top level divisions between Cord principals Raila, Moses Wetangula and Musyoka Kalonzo over its flag bearer. He will also hopes the Luhya community will rally behind him as it did in the 2013 elections at a time when he faced stiff competition from TNA’s Ferdinand Waititu alias Baba Wao – a Kikuyu. That can also work against Kidero should Wamalwa make good the Kiambu politicians invitation.

Worse, Kidero’s opponents are working on inter-community alliances, in order to divide his supporters and dwindle his re-election fortunes. However, at least five candidates will be seeking Jubilee nomination among them current Nairobi Senator Sonko (who has announced willingness to join ODM), Dagoretti South MP Waweru, nominated MP and TNA chairman Johnson Sakaja, former Starehe MP Wanjiru and disgraced cabinet secretary Waiguru. Any major fallout after Jubilee nominations can work to Kidero’s advantage. That is why jubilee MPs want party hopping after nominations proscribed.

STOP PRESS

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Wamalwa has confirmed his intention to run for Nairobi Governor’s seat. Speaking while commissioning several CDF funded projects in inappropriate venue of Gatanga Constituency, Muranga County, he promised to work towards building support for the president and his deputy within Nairobi, which has until now been perceived as a Cord region.

His declaration one year ahead of elections means he, Uhuru and Deputy President William Ruto have drawn up a strategy to rope in Luhya, the second largest ethnic community, to ensure landslide victory not only in Nairobi but countrywide come 2017. That explains the tough demands made on Jubilee.

“It is time for Uhuru, Ruto and I to take the role formerly played by our predecessors Mwai Kibaki and the late Kijana Wamalwa to strengthen our communities to foster development in this country,” said Wamalwa.

Wamalwa, who believes he will be the man to deliver a win for President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi further reiterated that in 2017, he shall be on the forefront Kenya politicians supporting Uhuru’s re-election along with his Deputy President Ruto. That role can be served better if he sought the bigger support of Luhya population with millions of votes back home than that of fragmented 300,000 voters in Nairobi.

On Wednesday, 18 Members of Parliament and two governors from the Western region endorsed Wamalwa for the Nairobi gubernatorial seat. Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka and his Vihiga counterpart Moses Akaranga are the two governors who voiced their support for Wamalwa, with MPs Ababu Namwamba (Bundalangi), Mjr John Waluke Koyi , Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East), Ayub Savula (Lugari), Wafula Lazaro (Saboti), Trans Nzoia Women Representative Janet Nangabo and her Bungoma counterpart Reginalda Wanyonyi also on board.

The legislators midweek had a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s chief of staff Joseph Kinyua at the Office of the President to discuss among other things a planned three to four-day tour by the Head of State and his deputy to the region towards the end of August.

The Luhya leaders fronted conditions that should be effected in exchange for their support for Jubilee ahead of the 2017 elections.

Among the conditions include the fronting of Eugene as the Jubilee candidate for Nairobi governorship race and another Luhya leader picked to be the Speaker of National Assembly should Jubilee win the 2017 General Election.

Meanwhile, the CS said that for now, he will focus on rolling out his mandate as Water CS until the time comes.

Also present was Gatanga MP Humphrey Njuguna Kimani who declared his support for Wamalwa as Nairobi’s next governor.

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