Elections 2017

Ndindi Nyoro: People’s hero or just a desperate Ken Matiba wannabe

A cartoon showing Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro. [File, Standard]

Were the late Kiharu MP Kenneth Matiba still alive, he would have sadly shaken his head in disapproval.

Perhaps even in death, his spirit must have been jolted by the appropriated chants and almost vulgar use of the phrase ‘Let the People Decide’ for petty politics.

When Matiba was unlawfully detained and tortured in 1990 during the clamour for multi-party democracy, Kiharu MP Samson Ndindi Nyoro was a boy of five growing up at Gathukiini village in Kiharu Constituency, Murang’a County.

Yet in his brief arrest earlier in the week, Nyoro must have sat at the back of the police vehicle and seen Matiba in himself. Two key facts set them worlds apart though.

Matiba was tortured to near death for refusing to be the one thing Nyoro wears proudly like a badge of honour – a sycophant. And while he advocated democracy, Nyoro believes in benevolent dictators.

But on Monday night, the fantastical parallels between him and Matiba might have seemed to him clear as day. He represents Kiharu like Matiba did, and like Matiba, Nyoro must have imagined himself as the rebel being punished by the State for his political stand.

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If the phrase ‘words coming back to haunt’ was a person, few would embody it as fully as Nyoro.

Hear him in an opinion article published in August 2017 making a case for President Uhuru Kenyatta clamping down on the Opposition: “I have of late come to a point of entertaining thoughts that promote the opposite of freedoms and democracy”.

Fast forward two years and what was good for the goose then is apparently not good for the gander.

Ndindi has spent the week crying wolf about his ‘persecution’ for associating with Deputy President William Ruto after his arrest for causing disturbance at a church function.

It is instructive that his header on Twitter is a picture of him beaming shaking hands with Ruto.

Unsurprisingly, Matiba’s rallying call of letting the people decide featured in his speech after Nyoro was released without charge.

To understand the Samson Nyoro that sees a kinship to Matiba, you have to look into his past and recognise first Nyoro the businessman before you understand Ndindi the politician.

ALSO READ: Leaders condemn rise of chaos in Mt Kenya rallies

He has mastered speaking out of both sides of his mouth, insisting the government should use force on opposition while at the same time accusing the police of being misused.

Us vs them

A sycophant of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto by self admission, Nyoro paid the piper when he called for a government that would violently clamp down on dissent. Now that the tune he requested has been played, he would not dance to it.

Like the Biblical Samson, Ndindi believes he has a God given function in this political battle of us vs them: Tangatanga vs Kieleweke – one of stopping Opposition leader Raila Odinga from being sold in Mt Kenya region, as he puts it.

If he is Samson, the gatekeeper fighting the antipathy that Kieleweke is causing in the region, then his Delilah is the ‘force within government’ that is looking to strip him of his political might.

The biggest breakthroughs of his life have come through attaching himself to men he admired, incidentally all former MPs - Matiba, Ngenye Kariuki, Irungu Kang’ata and now William Ruto.

His break into finance came from Kariuki who gave him a leg up by hiring him at his firm. When he wanted to become a politician, he sat at the feet of Kang’ata, serving as Constituency Development Fund (CDF) chairman.

ALSO READ: Leaders condemn rise of chaos in Mt Kenya rallies

Now in Parliament, Nyoro’s strategy remains the same and he is riding on DP Ruto’s coat tails for the elixir of political immortality. His words: selling Raila Odinga to Central would be committing political suicide.

Since his election, the lawmaker is barely distinguishable from Ruto and is among a band of his ardent loyalists who will go to any length to defend the DP against foes, real and imagined, including Raila, and Interior PS Karanja Kibicho.

In the two years he has been in politics, Nyoro’s image has quickly transformed from the astute mind that doled out financial advice on early morning television talk shows to one of a sycophant eager to please his masters.

Triumphant entry

Just how far he is willing to go became clear last Sunday at Gitui Catholic Church where he had an altercation with a faction of rival Jubilee members.

The 48 hours that followed had him holed up in a TV studio to avoid arrest and a brief detainment later exploited for dramatic effect - a triumphant entry into Murang’a town lifted shoulder high and press conferences where he taunted his detractors.

Nyoro is of a business mind, and the wisdom of financial investment applies to politics. But unlike in the world of finance, he finds that politics needs a different capital - relationships that can be leveraged.

In effect, Ruto’s presidential ambition is a venture capital investment that Nyoro wants a stake in and Kenyans will be eagerly waiting to see the payout.

ALSO READ: Ndindi Nyoro: I will not be intimidated