Sonko’s Dilemma; Running Mate & Winning Coalition

By Mwangi Gikonyo

Mike Mbuvi Sonko was to some the surprise candidate for the Nairobi Jubilee ticket. The challenge by the Muranga merchant class, twice imposing candidates to take on him seemed so formidable that many thought he wouldn’t win it. The underdog all this time, Sonko deployed his best game ever, some credible organisation and friends in the right places to ensure he won. His allies are now in seventh heaven even as others reluctantly troop to his corner as most now acknowledge that he is the new and undisputed Sheriff in town. Even Maina Kamanda, the enforcer of the Muranga project, has given way to the new master.

But Sonko’s victory is short lived because the real battle lies ahead. In the next few weeks, Sonko will start experiencing the wrath of the Kidero juggernaut, peraps the biggest and best funded campaign team after that of the presidential candidates. Kidero is preparing to devastate Sonko with an overwhelming negative campaign that Sonko may be prepared for but simply hasn’t appreciated its extent and possible outcomes.

This means it is time Sonko built a team that can answer Kidero shot after shot and provide a section of the sceptical city population that he is the man for the job. This means that Sonko will now have to deploy suits to fight suits even as he moves to secure his more casual base. It means that Sonko will have to deploy a professional campaign secretariat with all the amenities f a modern campaign, deploy a running mate who will calm the nerves of the sceptics and a Governor’s campaign team that will reach out to every part of the city in both class and ethnic configuaration.

In the running mate corner a few names have popped up. It seems obvious that he may have to nominate a Kikuyu for the position and a Kikuyu who engenders confidence in the population that the Kikuyu interest will be well secured. There is Dennis Waweru, Jimnah Mbaru and the odd John Gakuo or Bishop Margaret Wanjiru.

Dennis Waweru has traversed the city and stil has his campaign team within reach. He is an affluent banker who understands money and wealth and has deep Kikuyu connections as the chairperson of the Mt Kenya Parliamentary group and the Mt Kenya foundation. He also stepped down for Sonko and supported him to the end. Waweru brings the exclusive advantage of giving the Kikuyu the promise that Sonko will support him in the future as Waweru is rather young and shows promise for his community. He is a talent that needs to be invested and Sonko would be wise to do so.

Jimnah Mbaru is the father of this city who never was. He has helped previous governments including the Moi regime in mapping a master plan for the city. Jimnah has also ran twice, once as Mp for Starehe and second as Governor in 2013 where a formidable campaign fell due to the last minute endorsement that Waititu received from Uhuru. Jimnah has also worked with Sonko before, briefly endorsing him for governor in 2013 before Uhuru cracked the whip. Jimnah has deep pockets and he can solely fund the campaign to match kidero’s shilling for a shilling. He is a wise old man, quiet, reserved and engenders confidence in the wealth and Kikuyu people that all will be well.

Gakuo on the other hand has a good name but few networks that can make the campaign work to defeat Kidero. A name is simply not good enough. Margaret Wanjiru on the other hand does not bring the confidence both the Kikuyu and the wealthy need. Her recent altercation with the law during the nominations saw the party fix and abandon her for her misdeeds. Her appeal is also to the lower classes which Sonko has locked which makes her superfluous.

Wild cards for the deputy governor’s post include Milly Omanga and Fwamba NC Fwamba. Milly lost to Shebesh in the Women’s rep race and did quite well. She was able to galvanize her vote including that of her Kisii community and she could very well help to lock it for Sonko.

Fwamba NC Fwamba has been present in the Jubilee Nairobi Governor’s race as a key mobilize of the Jubilee Luhya vote. He was for a while the head of Eugene Wamalwa’s Nairobi campaign when it lasted and cobbled up a huge network of Luhya grass root leaders to support Eugene. A former candidate in the 2013 race and in the Mathare by election, Fwamba’s networks in the city move beyond his Luhya connections. He had also been proposed as deputy to Dennis Waweru and Peter Kenneth.

What is clear is that Sonko must bring together a formidable team to campaign for him. A professional campaign secretariat to solidify his present team, a running mate to give confidence where it is weak and other key leaders from the other communities in the city. A Kamba, kikuyu, Kisii and Luhya coalition would devastate Kidero with a margin of over 1 million votes. Sonko should be mindful of these people and together with the nominated leaders under Jubilee, deliver a resounding victory for the party.

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