By Stephen Makabila
Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko
A storm is brewing in Nairobi politics as elected and aspiring politicians kick off 2017 campaigns for the gubernatorial seat in earnest. Despite the city having a serving Governor in Dr Evans Kidero (CORD), there is intense jostling within TNA on who, from that party, unseats him in 2017, even as ODM, which sponsored the sitting governor, also plans to restructure its city politics. Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko recently declared that Central Kenya politicians should rally behind him for the city governorship in 2017, since they already have the presidency, a statement that opened an acrimonious debate on who becomes the next Jubilee candidate for the city chief executive’s seat. As it stands, TNA has the majority parliamentary representation with nine of the 17 constituencies in the city, the other eight being held by close rivals ODM. Powerful forces The ruling Jubilee Alliance partner party also bagged the senatorial and county woman representative seats in 2013, positions by Sonko and Rachel Shebesh respectively. Party leaders in the city argue that with better organisation and strategy, they could not have lost the governor’s seat.
But matters in the alliance have been further complicated by the entry of Bishop Margaret Wanjiru into TNA a few months ago and her interest in the seat, setting up a thrilling battle between her, Sonko and 2013 loser Ferdinand Waititu alias Baba Yao. It has also emerged that youthful and ambitious Dagoreti South MP Dennis Waweru is mobilising grassroots support across the city to take a stab for the Governor’s position in 2017. City MPs consider him a sober mind who has quietly worked his way to the top. Waweru also has the backing of powerful forces in Government, who have fallen out with Sonko and are not keen to have Waititu as the Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP) positions itself within Nairobi County. The Dagoretti South MP has also attracted the ear of the President and the Deputy President. During a recent retreat in Naivasha, Waweru was appointed by his colleagues, alongside Senator Kiraitu Murungi, to co-chair a session where MPs presented their grievances to the President after denouncing the Sky-Team. “Right now I am working for Dagoretti South people. I must, however, admit I have fallen under extreme pressure to run for a higher seat. I am still weighing the matter and we will cross that bridge when we get there,” Waweru says. Waititu, being an old-hand in politics, has remained close to elected TNA MPs in the city and has been attending their meetings.
“The truth of the matter is that Sonko’s interest and Wanjiru’s entry have caused some discomfort among those with ambitions above parliamentary politics and the formation of JAP even intensifies the prevailing confusion further,” Embakasi Central MP John Ndirangu told The Standard on Sunday. Contacted, Bishop Wanjiru said nothing stands between her and the governorship of Nairobi City come 2017. “I will be vying for that seat when the time comes. I’m not a beginner in Nairobi politics and I have my own networks, which do not need any endorsement,” said Wanjiru. She asked: “Have you seen any of these leaders coming out to fight me openly? They should not waste time being jittery because of me. I am focused on delivering Nairobi for President Uhuru Kenyatta and myself.” The former Starehe MP said she is not worried over formation of JAP because “it does not in any way change the politics of the city” and that as TNA members, they will be awaiting direction from the party leader (President Kenyatta) on when to officially decamp to the new outfit. “We are aware talks on the merger have progressed well and that is good news for us all,” said Wanjiru.
But speaking while launching CDF projects at Bondeni Primary, Mwangaza Secondary and Kayole South Secondary schools, Ndirangu called for close caucusing of TNA leadership in Nairobi and cautioned serving elected leaders against allowing raw power ambitions to fuel divisions among them. “I understand the politics of this city very well, having served as a civic leader, mayor and now MP. “Most of my fellow legislators are also former civic leaders and they should understand the fact that the city belongs to all even as they advance their politics,” urged Ndirangu. Sonko has lately attracted condemnation from fellow leaders in the party. During the burial of the mother of former Kamukunji MP Simon Mbugua at Lang’ata cemetery last month, Sonko declared he would be the next Nairobi governor. The vibe prompted Starehe MP Maina Kamanda, a key TNA MP, to walk out in protest. Sonko also claimed he was aware of the plot against him and declared he was ready for the battle.
‘One of us’
He has, however, vowed to remain loyal to the President and his government and focus on Jubilee delivering its election pledges, but feels those fighting him may not be re-elected because they have failed to deliver in the first place. Sonko has endeared himself to the youth, poor women and voters through provision of his ambulances and hearses for free service in all parts of the city apart from other social amenity slum projects he sponsors and cash handouts. Ads by InfoAd Options But Kamanda and a group of some TNA MPs have held meetings in the city, with Sonko conspicuously absent. Kamanda, however insists the senator “is one of us”. He has also dismissed claims that his group is grooming the Dagoretti South MP to carry Jubilee’s flag in 2017, arguing that such claims are perpetrated by those who intend to divide TNA. But Sonko’s absence from gatherings of city MPs in recent days has raised eyebrows, because, for example, he was not part of TNA legislators, led by Kamanda, who attended a joint church service in the city last Sunday as a show of their unity of purpose. The meeting was, interestingly, graced by Mathare MP Steve Kariuki (ODM). Sonko did not return our calls nor respond to text messages sent to him. The storm in TNA comes at a time ODM is also re-organising its Nairobi politics, but with the incumbent Dr Kidero not really being at the centre of things.
ODM Deputy National Organising Secretary George Aladwa has resigned to remain the Nairobi ODM chairman. Aladwa has indicated ODM has planned a series of re-branding activities in Nairobi and the party leadership will meet all its MCAs on March 20, followed by a county delegates’ conference the following day. Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi says restructuring to ensure the party remains dominant is long overdue. “We have to retain what we have and win more seats in the next elections, and that can only happen if there is proper re-organisation of our politics in the city,” Wanyonyi said.
Standard Digital News