Team Nairobi picks candidate to face off with Peter Kenneth
Nairobi city’s gubernatorial race has taken a new twist after a camp supportive of Deputy President William Ruto’s 2022 Presidential bid picked a candidate to face Governor Evans Kidero in August.
Senator Mike Mbuvi, Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru, former Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru and Nominated MP Johnson Sakaja — all who have been campaigning to fly the city flag as governor — have settled on one of them to face off with former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth in the Jubilee nominations, the Sunday Nation can report.
The candidate will be announced in a matter of days after the group officially informs the party this week.
Mr Sakaja, Mr Waweru, aspiring Woman Representative Wangui Ng’ang’a and former Kamukunji MP Simon Mbugua, who spoke on behalf of Mr Sonko (who is away), confirmed the political deal but remained tight lipped on the pick.
Ms Wanjiru was however unreachable, but one of her aides confirmed she was a key player in the talks.
“We can announce we have one candidate we shall present in the party nominations in April against any other within Jubilee,” Mr Sakaja said.
What we are now doing with the help of a few experts is how to negotiate for other positions,” said Mr Sakaja.
Mr Waweru admitted that the talks they launched a month ago had jumped the first hurdle. “Yes, we have a candidate. What is remaining is sharing out of the other positions. We are inclusive,” said the Dagoretti South MP.
Mr Mbugua said the team was determined to face Dr Kidero as one unit. “We either win all of us or lose all of us. We shall campaign together. Nairobi is big enough for all of us,” said Mr Mbugua who spoke on behalf of Mr Sonko.
Sunday Nation confirmed the team has agreed on a line up for governor, running mate, Woman Representative and senator.
DECLINED TO NAME CANDIDATE
Ms Wangui, the Team Nairobi’s leading contender for Woman Representative, said on Saturday: “We are in one house and it was only appropriate that people sit down and talk because at the end of the day who is our main enemy? It is the opposition.”
She too declined to say who the candidate for governor is.
The positions of Speaker, County Secretary and Majority Leader are also part of the negotiations to include the ethnic interests of those who will miss out in the top four positions. “Balancing such interests is key,” said Mr Sakaja.
He hinted that the team had considered who would go head-to-head with Mr Kenneth for the huge Central Kenya bloc vote in the nominations.
Nairobi governor Evans Kidero said he was not scared of the re-alignments in Jubilee. “I am the incumbent. I am working and I will continue working. I don’t care what is going on in Jubilee. Let them bring the strongest person and I will beat them hands down,” he said while speaking in Mowlem in Nairobi.
The new move by Team Nairobi could throw a spin in Jubilee politics especially because the team has isolated Mr Kenneth, the latest entrant to the race.
Mr Kenneth is being supported by city MPs with origins in Murang’a County where Mr Kenneth comes from.
The Team Nairobi and Team Kenneth differ on two fundamental issues.
First, it was the mode of nominations for the party candidate. Team Nairobi has stood its ground that the candidate must be chosen through grassroots nominations while team Kenneth rooted for a boardroom agreement, which is was cheaper and less acrimonious.
The second point of departure is the politics of 2022.
AUTOMATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
According to a highly placed source at the Jubilee Party, Team Nairobi has been categorical that Mr Ruto should be the automatic Presidential candidate for the populous Mt Kenya bloc.
Team Kenneth is against tying this year’s polls to the Uhuru succession.
Kamukinji MP Yusuf Hassan, a Kenneth ally, says: “Anyone tying this election to 2022 is missing the point. We have a huge task winning 2017 and that should be our focus. We shall cross the 2022 bridge when we get there.”
Mr Hassan said Mr Kenneth would beat any of Team Nairobi candidates whether at the primaries or in the boardroom.
“For us it is about beating Dr Kidero at the ballot,” said the MP.
A few city MPs including Maina Kamanda (Starehe), John Njoroge (Kasarani) and Mwangi Gakuya (Embakasi North) are in Mr Kenneth’s camp.
A number of county assembly members have joined the bandwagon. Roysambu’s Peter Warutere and his Mlango Kubwa counterpart Andrew Macharia say Central Kenya cannot sit and wait for an angel to negotiate with Mr Ruto in 2022.
“Politics is local. We shall support Mr Kenneth with the hope he will be our man to negotiate with Mr Ruto after 2017. No one will be hand-picked in 2022,” said Mr Warutere.
The MPs reiterate that Murang’a County should be the heir apparent of President Kenyatta’s mantle after Kiambu and Nyeri have had a chance with the Kenyatta family and former President Mwai Kibaki respectively.