In-house rivalry may dim candidates hopes

Kiambu Governor James Nyoro. [David Gichuru, Standard] 

Political dynamics in the race for Kiambu governor's seat are shifting as the polling day draws near.

The candidates are leaving nothing to chance ahead of an election that promises to be a tough duel.

The race has attracted six contestants and Dr James Nyoro (Jubilee Party) is hoping to retain the seat he got after the impeachment of Ferdinand Waititu.

But he must fight off opposition from the former governor William Kabogo of Tujibebe party, Moses Kuria (Chama cha Kazi), Senator Kimani Wamatangi (UDA), Thika Town MP Wainaina wa Jungle (Independent) and Safina's Mwende Gatabaki.

The battle in President Uhuru Kenyatta's backyard is also between Kenya Kwanza and Azimio. Kabogo, Wamatangi and Kuria are under Deputy President William Ruto's Kenya Kwanza.

But their rivalry might hurt their chances. Some residents think this could work to the advantage of Dr Nyoro.

Jane Wairimu from Kirigiti said the moment some voters realised that Kabogo was against Wamatangi, they shifted their support to Nyoro.

"All the Azimio votes will got to Nyoro. There also those who are still strongly in Jubilee and still support Uhuru and will not be swayed from the current governor," she said.

The county has about 1.2 million registered voters. Most of them are Kikuyu, with about 300,000 from other communities. Towns such as Banana, Limuru, Thika, Juja, Ruiru and Githurai 45 have pockets of voters from other communities.

The county has 12 constituencies of Kiambu Town, Githunguri, Kiambaa, Lari, Limuru, Kikuyu, Kabete, Thika, Juja, Ruiru, Gatundu North and Gatundu South.

"Nyoro begins his victory with the 300,000 voters who will be voting for any Azimio-leaning candidate. Add this to his supporters from Jubilee strongholds and you can see that he stands a chance in this election," said James Thiong'o, a resident.

The governor has promised to boost healthcare, youth employment and road networks. "We want to improve our coffee million, boost our dairy products and also encourage peri-urban farming given that a significant part of the county has several urban centres, we want to put money in people's pockets," said Nyoro in a meeting with residents of Limuru on Thursday.

UDA leadership has been pushing for six-piece voting, which other coalition partners are not willing to embrace.

But the youth who are Kabogo's supporters have rejected calls for the six-piece voting pattern. The sibling rivalry in Kenya Kwanza could work against the governor candidates.

Lawrence Kimani, a resident of Limuru town said that Governor Nyoro has done a lot over the two years he has been in office.

However, the governor's delay to hit the campaign trail saw his competitors gain ground and he is now fighting to win over more support.

Nyoro has secured the support of a coalition of women and youth who are crucial in determining the winner in the race. 

"I have helped women and youth through projects and we have with youth revolving fund of Sh1.3 billion for the youth," Nyoro said.

[email protected]