Political bigwigs join heated race for Speaker seat in city assembly

Nairobi County Assembly chambers. [James Mwangi, Standard]

Several new contestants have joined in the race for Speaker of the Nairobi County Assembly, just days before elections for the post take centre stage.

After the August 9 General Election was completed, only two contestants were fronted for the city Speaker seat, including Ken Ngondi of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and Harrison Wangoro of Jubilee Party, both under the Azimio-One Kenya coalition.

Mr Ngondi served as deputy speaker under Alex ole Magelo between 2013-2017, while Mr Wangoro unsuccessfully contested for the Embakasi North parliamentary seat in this year’s general election.

The Sunday Standard has now learnt that just days before the swearing-in of city Members of the County Assembly (MCAs), the list of contestants for Speaker of the Assembly has grown longer as more aspirants join the race.

Bigwigs in the political arena joining the race say they have the necessary experience and financial muscles to occupy the coveted seat.

One of them is former Jubilee Party Youth League Secretary General, Samwel Masaki, who unsuccessfully ran for the Nairobi Senate seat, riding on his close friendship with Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja.

“It is true that I’m contesting for the seat; I have been part of the Youth for Kenya Kwanza (movement). Such opportunities belong to young people like me,” said Masaki.

“Having not managed to win the senatorial race, I feel that I have another chance to take a leadership position in the county,” he added.

Masaki, who divulged that he has received blessings from Governor Sakaja, contested for parliamentary by-elections in Embakasi South in 2019, in what he said was preparing the way for bigger challenges ahead.

“I’m bringing a bagful of experience and as a leader, I must find a mechanism to unite the house, unlike what was witnessed before,” he said.

Adding that: “The role of the Speaker is to make sure the Governor’s work is smooth by ensuring his legislative agendas are passed in the Assembly without any challenges.”

Also rumoured to be in the Speaker race is Nixon Korir, who served as Lang’ata Member of Parliament (MP) from 2017.

However Korir, who is popularly known as ‘Generali’, has dismissed the claims saying that, “Those are just speculations.”

Korir accompanied Governor Sakaja to Mombasa last weekend where they met a section of MCA’s in what close sources believe could be laying the groundwork for a plum job in the County.

Korir lost to popular comedian Felix Odiwuor ‘Jalang’o’ who was vying for the Lang’ata parliamentary seat on an ODM ticket.

Other politicians who are rumoured to be aiming for the Speaker seat and other top roles in the national government are East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) MP Simon Mbugua and Charles Njagua, popularly known as ‘Jaguar’.

The two lost Kamukunji and Starehe parliamentary seats respectively, but have remained loyal to their party.

Also in the race is outgoing Speaker and former Makadara MP Benson Mutura, and Public Service Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rachel Shebesh of Azimio.

Kenya Kwanza’s UDA party has a total of 36 members in the house, while Chama Cha Kazi, also of Kenya Kwanza, has one seat.

The ODM party has 35 members, while other Azimio partners Jubilee party and Wiper party have five and four seats respectively. Three members in the county assembly are independents.

Both sides will be banking on members from other parties to get the upper hand in terms of numbers during elections for the County Speaker next week.