No longer at ease for political Kingpins

President Uhuru Kenyatta is received by Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga upon arrival in Siaya County for an official working tour of the region. [File, Standard]

Regional political kingpins are no longer at ease as open defiance and jostling for space threaten to destabilise them in their position.

From Coast, to Western, Rift Valley, Eastern and Mt Kenya regions, the assault on the grip that President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto, opposition leader Raila Odinga, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka and Amani National Congress’s Musalia Mudavadi have enjoyed seems to be coming under attack.

A heavily loaded political statement by Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria during the New Year celebrations in Thika town is the latest in a clear challenge that could rattle the status quo.

In a video that went viral on social media, Kuria tore down President Kenyatta for what he said was neglect on development in Central Kenya.

“As we usher in 2019, think very seriously. Your job is to vote after which we reward other regions with development, which is not very smart,” he says to loud applause.

Kuria, who is Uhuru’s area MP, then urged the crowd to ask the President to open development projects in Kiambu just like he did in the recent tour of Nyanza where he commissioned roads projects instead of “awarding certificates to rehabilitated alcoholics”.

Kuria has declared interest for presidency in 2022 and his statement could have been a tactful strategy to position himself as Uhuru prepares to retire in three years after serving his second and final term.

No one is known to have taken on the President in Mt Kenya and Kuria’s diatribe is the region where President Kenyatta has previously had a firm grip on the political stronghold.

It is not only President Kenyatta’s stronghold that is on assault. The Rift Valley is also a hotbed.

Baringo Senator and Kanu Chairman Gideon Moi has made clear his mission to sell the independence party even beyond the region.

Gideon has indicated that he is widely consulting on what political direction to take in 2022.

Wide consultations

“I have not stated so yet because this is a matter that takes wide consultations with a wide range of players, it is ongoing right now and it will manifest itself in good time,” he said.

Instead, he wished those doing early campaigns “the best of luck” but added: “We will see where they are going to run to when the real dance begins.”

There has also been an affront on Dr Ruto by a group of legislators led by Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny, his Nandi Hills counterpart Alfred Keter and Moiben’s Silas Tiren, who accuse the DP of ignoring the plight of maize farmers.

Kutuny says they do not harbour any political grudge against the DP but are speaking for the farmers who have been neglected under his watch.

“Our concern is that, coming from the region, why is the DP quiet when the maize farmers are being mistreated? He is either for the farmers who voted overwhelmingly for Jubilee or against them,” says Kutuny.

But Ruto’s allies, led by Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, believe the Rift Valley rebel MPs are rabble-rousers whose main aim is to spoil for the DP.

“We know they are paid up to cause discontent for a fee but they will not get far, even people back in the region know them for who they are,” says Murkomen.

Kipkelion West MP Hillary Kosgei agrees with Murkomen and terms the MPs as rent seekers who have a negative agenda for the community.

“Nobody takes them seriously because they stand for nothing,” says Kosgei.

Away from assault on Uhuru and Ruto, Raila is not sitting pretty, especially in Western and Coast where he has enjoyed almost unfettered support.

Once under his political armpits, Coast region is today bubbling with agitations and demanding for its space in the national arena.

Regional unity

Apart from Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho who has remained loyal to Raila even after the March 9, 2018 handshake, Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi and several other MPs from the region seem to be charting their political path away from the wings of the opposition leader.

Kingi hosted Coast MPs twice last year where he insisted on the need for unity of the region for it to achieve any meaningful development.

“We have homegrown solutions to our issues, we have been used for a long time and being dictated by people from outside the region. We must be united and start charting the course for the betterment of our people,” said Kingi.

In November last year, ODM disciplinary committee decided to expel two MPs from the region for openly defying the party and declaring support for Ruto.

But undeterred, Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa and her Msambweni counterpart Suleiman Dori have vowed to stay put in the DP’s camp.

Beyond Raila’s waning grip in the Coast is that of Western where his once close ally Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya asked the opposition leader to support him for the presidency in 2022.

“I have been a minister, two terms as governor, it is time now to go for presidency. I have been Raila’s faithful servant and it was time for him to return the favour,” said Oparanya.

Also rattled by Oparanya’s announcement are Mudavadi and Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula who have both declared interest in the presidency.

In Lower Eastern, Kalonzo is not sitting pretty either as Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana has taken him head-on right from within his Wiper party.