It is not smooth sailing for Polycarp Igathe in Nairobi governor race

Former Equity Group Chief Commercial Officer Polycarp Igathe. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The man with the magical tough has done it again.

He has waltzed into the cutthroat competition that is city politics and clinched what many politicians only dream about after spending billions. Polycarp Igathe has received the Azimio ticket for Nairobi governor without a single billboard to his name.

The former Equity Group Chief Commercial Officer's intimate dance with luck and opportunity reflects the image of a man ordained by the gods.

In his entire career, - one that has seen him sit at the pinnacle of managerial positions in several top corporates in the country- the 49-year-old has applied for a job twice, once asking for the position of Deputy Governor and now the governor. In both instances, his applications were treated favourably by his political godfathers.

In the midst of a hotly contested governor race that has seen Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi, businesspersons Richard Ngatia and Agnes Kagure spend millions of shillings on mobilising supporters and erecting billboards for months, Mr Igathe has upset the applecart. His entry into the race has complicated the matrix and is causing jitters in what seemed like an easy call to select a governor candidate for Azimio la Umoja One Kenya.

“I am not a trophy candidate but a candidate for the people of Nairobi,” said Mr Igathe during an interview on Spice FM yesterday.

However, he argues that he is no one’s project and that his entry into Nairobi’s governor race is strategic and came after lengthy consultations with the business community and different demographics within the capital city.

“I have been having conversations with different groups in the last 14 days until I got the confidence that I’m not imposing myself on the people. People are actually hungry for not just leadership but competent leadership,” said Mr Igathe.

Westlands MP Timothy Wanyonyi. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Even though the former Equity Group Chief Commercial Officer's face hasn’t been spread on billboards across Nairobi he has revealed that he is behind the billboards across the city asking “Nairobi mnataka nini’’ (Nairobians what do you want?).

“I am asking what do you want and can I be your servant to deliver what you want,” said Mr Igathe.

With a stellar career as a corporate guru, his excellence has seen him move from Coca-Cola, East African Breweries Limited (EABL), Haco Tiger Brands, Vivo Energy and now to Equity Group.

Even though Jubilee hasn’t issued a direct ticket to Mr Igathe, his presence in the ring has gotten on his critics' nerves and led to opposing voices from his competitors’ supporters who sense the might of a man who seems to get what he wants.

It is alleged that after a meeting in State House, Nairobi, on Tuesday, the Azimio team opted to drop Mr Ngatia who officially launched his bid last Sunday as a majority of the members were in favour of Mr Igathe.

Resolutions from the meeting allegedly cleared the former Equity Group Chief Commercial Officer to be the governor candidate with Mr Wanyonyi deputising him. Even though none of the two parties has formally responded to the matter, agitation from other candidates eyeing the position speaks to a deal surrounding the position.

Politicians allied to the Westlands MP called on ODM to declare him the governor candidate by 5pm yesterday.

ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna stated that the decision on the governor candidate was not made by the party but by affiliate outfits in Azimio.

"We want people to respect each other within this coalition. If your party has no candidate, don't force us on someone who cannot win the elections. We believe that the governor who can do the job is Tim Wanyonyi," said Mr Sifuna.

ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

Similarly, supporters of Ms Kagure and Mr Ngatia protested at Jubilee headquarters yesterday and called for nominations to determine the rightful candidate for the party ticket for Nairobi governor.

“Kama si Ngatia hakuna Jubilee. Hii chama hata ilikua imekufa (If they do not hand the ticket to Ngatia, then they can be sure there will be no more Jubilee Party. The party was already dead anyway," said one of Ngatia's supporters.

The demonstrators threatened to campaign for competitors if their demands are not met.

Despite the tension within Azimio, Mr Igathe radiates confidence in being the next governor of Nairobi arguing that he is ready to donate his skills and abilities as governor for five years.

He resigned as Nairobi deputy governor in January 2018 after what he said was a failure to earn the trust of former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko to enable him to drive administrative and management of the county.

Although he was out of office, Mr Igathe explains that through his networks, he continued providing advice in a different capacity as the chairman of the Nairobi Regeneration Committee that contributed to the formation of the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS).

For Mr Igathe, his focus is flying the Jubilee ticket and later becoming the face of Azimio in the Nairobi governor race and redeeming the city and its four million residents from the mountains of garbage and the misrule they have witnessed for the last five years.