Wangui Ngirici, Martha Karua, Anne Waiguru to face off in Kirinyaga

President Uhuru Kenyatta is received at the Kirinyaga University Grounds by Kirinyaga gurbenatorial aspirant Ann Waiguru (left) and NARC-K Martha Karua upon arrival in Kirinyaga county for a campaign tour of the region, June 28, 2017. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

The unfolding political alignment and realignment in the country is paving way for interesting political contests in various parts of the country.

No battle is proving as interesting as the impeding political clash in Kirinyaga country as three queens of enviable might train the sights on the gubernatorial contest.

Governor Anne Waiguru, Women Representative Wangui Ngirici and Narc Kenya party leader Martha Karua are already giving each other sleepless nights, as they advance their bids to floor one another.

The battle is given more political seasoning when one throws in a local son, the Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, a top State honcho, in the mix. Although he has never officially declared his interest, all indications are that he may be joining the race at the right time.

On Wednesday, Waiguru gave the clearest hint yet that she was about to dump Jubilee for Deputy President William Ruto’s Jubilee. She asked Mwea residents which vehicle they wanted her to join, and when they all responded United Democratic Alliance (UDA), she said she will go with their wish.

“If they question this I will say that my people directed me to join their party of choice,” Waiguru declared at the meeting.

An ardent supporter of President Uhuru Kenyatta and a leading BBI crusader who once crisscrossed the country drumming up support for the cause.

After a string of misfortunes including by-election loss and BBI court waterloo, Waiguru announced that she was re-examining her political stance.

“I have listened to the ground, they have said I have worked and established major projects that give them money but they have an issue with my presentation, I will do as their wish,” she said.

While campaigning for BBI, Waiguru ruthlessly attacked Ruto and came up with the slogan “you can’t buy a Kikuyu, you can only rent one,” a phrase that was interpreted to mean that all leaders from Mt Kenya region were following the Deputy President for personal gain and in due time they would be back to the Uhuru fold.

She was a leading light of “Embrace”, a women-led BBI campaign machine that sold the document across the country. Her entry into DP’s camp spoils the party for Ngirici who has been the face of UDA and the DP in Kirinyaga.

Besides being the face of UDA in Kirinyaga, Ngirici is touted as a key member of Ruto’s inner circle who has stood with him through thick and thin. Sources indicate Ngirici is among Ruto’s special picks to fly the party’s flag in next year’s polls.

Yesterday, Ngirici said she is neither shaken nor worried by Waiguru joining the UDA party.

She still believes she will oust her in next year’s polls saying she is ready to face her political nemesis during the primaries. Ngirici believes Waiguru was late to realise that the region was for Ruto.

“Mt Kenya is 100 per cent UDA. Pharaohs of our times are slowly seeing the light, we have been listening to the ground since day one and set the ball rolling,” Ngirici noted.

But sources have intimated to The Standard that although Waiguru has declared interest to join Ruto, the camp is divided on whether or not to accept her owing to her past opposition for Ruto.

“There has been discussions about Waiguru’s intention to join the party but there has been issues because Ngirici is the party’s choice, she has really invested in the party and there is a quagmire over Waiguru’s entry to the team,” a member of Tanga Tanga who did not wish to be quoted said.

“She is welcome but she understands that she has lost ground in Kirinyaga. By joining UDA she wants to lose honourably to me. But even as we welcome her, let her know that we are all equal in UDA and she should not expect special treatment or try to seek to be UDA’s ‘deep state’,” Ngirichi added.

Waiguru’s move is also seen as a strategy to concentrate on Kirinyaga politics after her 2017 arch-rival, Karua, was elevated to the position of Mt Kenya’s Unity forum spokesperson.

Pundits believe that the position could have made Waiguru realise that her stakes on national government are slowly dimming.

Last week, Waiguru disclosed that she had been approached by Presidential aspirant front runners who want her to be their running mate. 

However, the elevation of Karua may overshadow Waiguru’s possible chances since Karua is now at the centre of succession politics. Waiguru has even gone ahead to plead with Karua to concentrate on regional politics and abandon her gubernatorial bid.

“I can hear that the opponent that I defeated in 2017 is in the gubernatorial race in 2022, I can urge her to be the Mt Kenya spokesperson and drop her gubernatorial candidature,” said Waiguru.

Baptised as an “Iron Lady”, pundits believe that Karua could be the best checkmate for both Raila and Ruto who are the main Presidential front runners and the fact that she is a woman bridges the leadership for women.

“She is a scion of a long-standing political dynasty and the best checkmate for the front runners. The fact that she is a woman will be a gain for women and politics and any Presidential contender who would pick her would be guaranteed of women votes,” Embu University lecturer Dr Judy Makira noted.

Prof Gitile Naituli, another political commentator who lectures Leadership and Management at the Multi-Media University in Nairobi describes Karua as a perfect choice for the lobby.

“A very principled politician who is and also committed to the unity of Mt Kenya, she has also shown willingness to support other serious leaders in Mt Kenya such as Justin Muturi,” said Naituli.

Other than the three political heavyweights, former governor Joseph Ndathi is touted to be in the race and Former Finance Minister Njeru Githae. 

Then there is the Kibicho factor. A steel technocrat who has shown the ability to ruble rouse in his backyard, he has been in the previous war of nerves with both Ms Waiguru and Ms Ngirichi and has always tended to win those supremacy wars.

For example, in 2019 after a long-running attempt by Ms Waiguru to put conditions on the construction of the Kemri Hospital at Mwea, Kibicho showed a deft hand. Eventually, the government cancelled the title deed previously held by the county government and issued a new one to Kemri, unlocking the project.

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