By Onesmus Nzioka
The campaign Senator Mike Sonko is running for Nairobi Governor is proving to be a master stroke. While everyone else seems to be unsuccessfully appealing to the minds and tribes of the voters, Sonko has perfected the art of appealing to the hearts of the people and has created an emotional bond with his base.
In a well thought out and crafted EID celebration gift to the Muslim community in Nairobi, Sonko rounded up two thousand Muslim women from 64 Mosques from lower Nairobi and gifted them with foods and cash to make a feast for their families. He gifted the 64 Imams with 5 goats each to make a feast for their faithful at their mosques.
The art in Sonko’s method is pure political genius. While other candidates have been posing in Kanzus and taking photos at low key evening Iftar celebrations, in one single move, Sonko ensured his generosity will be mentioned in almost every mosque and every Muslim household. By appealing to women with whom it is easier to make bonds and reach out to whole families, Sonko ensured he is building a constituency he can rely on and that can’t let him down.
In the accompanying speech after prayers with the Imams, Sonko declared that his mother was a Muslim and went on to show a genuine understanding of Islam and its ways. It was an event that hit 9 on the political Richter scale. This approach which seems natural to Sonko and genuine to the people will continue to endear him to the masses as it makes everybody feel something rather than hear something. People forget what you say but they never forget how you made them feel.
The spoilt establishment class with all the education it likes to appeal to could not in all the total of their degrees and money match Sonko’s reach to even a percentage point. The Nyayo Stadium incident was pure political class. It is what is making Sonko’s candidature almost inevitable. Left to build all these traction this far and with thirteen months to go, it will be almost impossible to remove Sonko from the race without disastrous consequences.
It therefore is increasingly looking like Governor Mike Sonko is a reality we need to accustom ourselves to. This leave us with one question, who is likely to be Sonko’s running mate and who would ensure their ticket is a slum dunk? We explore.
- Dennis Kariuki Waweru
The underwhelming Dagoretti South MP and establishment candidate is up and running for governor. His campaign seems to have never taken off despite efforts to bring it to the public. With nothing remarkable or outstanding about him so far, he does not inspire anything in the masses that can be said to add value to the Sonko ticket. A touchy political greenhorn, he is unlikely to be a good team player least of all with Sonko. he seems to value himself beyond his reach and would be little beyond his money save for Maina Kamanda. While he could represent the establishment and Kikuyu interest, he would have a fall out immediately after elections and Nairobi would be subjected to total political deadlock soon thereafter. Dennis Kariuki, without an outstanding political name, stature or clout would be a disastrous running mate to Sonko.
- Jimnah Mbaru
Jimnah has been quiet publicly but loud under the scenes. He has met several candidates including Sonko and offered them a deal they cant refuse. Completely obsessed with his vision for the city, Jimnah is calculating how he can this time implement his vision as number two at city hall. His name recognition, political history, age, experience, money and the confidence and balance he would bring to Sonko would almost create the perfect ticket. Jimnah appeals and would take care of the elite, middle class and the Kikuyu interest at the same time. Sonko would definitely respect Jimnah and though they may not become friends, they would very easily have a functional working relationship. It is a balanced, sound ticket if Jubilee is ever going to get one. It would thrill the masses as well and send Kidero to the cleaners before cock crow.
- Margaret Wanjiru
In many ways, Wanjiru mirrors Sonko. They are cut from the same cloth though Sonko got more inches than the good Bishop. They are very similar to add anything to each other both coming from the same background of the hustle to beat all odds and emerge as city kingpins. They are rough and would get into each other’s way immediately, often competing as none would want to be second to the other. It’s a ticket that would look too ghetto to appeal far beyond city stadium. Margaret wouldn’t appeal to the elite or Kikuyu establishment either and will most likely not get their endorsement. It is a bad ticket in any way.
- Simon Mbugua
The original Mike Sonko, or rather, when Simon Mbugua grows up, he wants to be Mike Sonko. Simon Mbugua introduced us to the real Eastlands style of business and politics. Often jocular, brash, generous and simple at the same time, he pioneered what Sonko has perfected. His reach beyond Church Army is however contestable with many believing he was actually retired by the Kikuyu business class in Kamukunji who prefer the more stable approach Yusuf brings as opposed to the unpredictability and volatility that Simon brought. If they rejected him at Kamukunji, they’re unlikely to recommend him for Deputy Governor.
- Ibrahim Yussuf aka “Johnny”
Johnny rode to prominence in city politics on the back of a camel. It seems it was the wrong animal for the city since he has struggled to find a seat in the city beyond the camel’s back. He is however a suave player, a wheeler dealer who is very convincing and played a major role in Jimnah Mbaru’s ticket last time bringing in a substantial number of the 52 thousand votes Jimnah got. A well grounded man, Johnny however brings almost nothing new to the table for Sonko. Sonko has already locked in the Muslim vote and therefore would be better using Johnny elsewhere.
- Fwamba NC Fwamba
The essential Bukusu man and Eugene Wamalwa’s man on the ground in city politics is making headway for himself in the city. After canvassing the ground and the establishment, he has risen as the enforcer for Eugene in the city and is now the go to man for anyone looking for Eugene. In the vent that Eugene is not on the Nairobi ticket, every likelihood is that Fwamba will hold brief for Eugene and the Jubilee Luhya wing in Nairobi. Sonko could consider him for running mate quickly before Waweru does though it seems Waweru has co-opted the other minority Luhya communities into his campaign in complete disregard to Jubilee politics protocol.
- Milly Omanga
Milly Omanga is going to be the next political revelation for city politics. An amiable girl who comes out as very aggressive and strategic, Milly has wowed the political establishment with her campaign for the Women Rep’s position. She has gone out in broad smiles and deep pockets and built a name for herself. She also represents a very pragmatic community, the Kisii who would come out en masse to very easily support a ticket where she has a stake. Her suitability as Sonko’s deputy is however in doubt as she would very easily be consumed by Sonko’s theatrics and power and disappear into oblivion in the same way Jonathan Mueke has done.
All in all, it is about time Sonko now properly established himself in such a way that he can gain the confidence of the elite and the establishment as he has already bagged the popular mass vote. Its time he started looking gubernatorial and one thing he could do is establish a core team of five from the list above and power himself to City hall with the confidence of a winner and a team player.