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Eyes on Raila, Ruto as fight for city boss takes shape

By Josphat Thiong'o | Jan 26th 2022 | 3 min read

Deputy President William Ruto with ODM leader Raila Odinga at Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium Kisumu after Madraka day celebrations on June 1, 2021. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

With less than seven months to the elections, the focus turns to top presidential candidates and their strategies to capture the Nairobi governor seat.

The seat continues to draw the interest of politicians allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga. At the heart of the battle is the control of the county's billions in budgetary allocations, lucrative tenders and policies that dictate the city business environment.

Leaders who have declared interest in the seat include incumbent governor Anne Kananu, Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi, Makadara MP George Aladwa, former Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru, Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, businesswoman Agnes Kagure and Kenya Chamber of Commerce president Richard Ngatia.

Political party affiliation, tribal arithmetic, popularity on the ground and ideologies will determine who clinches the city’s governorship owing to its significance as the country’s centre of power. In the recent past, Ruto and Raila have campaigned in the capital and expressed their desire to control it. The DP is counting on former Starehe MP Bishop Margaret Wanjiru to clinch the governor seat. However, the pact between Ruto's United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and Mudavadi’s ANC has thrown a spanner into the works.

The Ruto, Mudavadi and Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang'ula's alliance has thrust forward Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja as a strong governor contender. Sakaja yesterday said he will vie for the seat on ANC ticket. This means Ruto will now have to go back to the drawing board and decide who between the senator and Wanjiru would have to shelve their ambition.

“Legally, I’m in Jubilee but essentially I am in ANC. Given our combined efforts with UDA, we will be get the governorship and majority of seats in the city even those that have traditionally belonged to ODM because these two parties have different strengths,” Sakaja said.

“Our unity is strategic for this city because we transcend the tribal perspective. We have an appeal that cuts across tribal lines as indicated by previous polls where I was able to garner votes from Jubilee and ODM supporters,” he added.

Sakaja hopes to be the compromise candidate under Ruto, Mudavadi and Wetang'ula alliance. Then there is the Azimio la Umoja camp where politicians from Jubilee and ODM are jostling for the governor seat.

Kananu, Ngatia, Wanyonyi, Waweru and Kagure are all allied to Azimio la Umoja Movement- a scenario that presents Raila with a headache and could spark sibling rivalry between ODM and Jubilee. The political stampede expected in Azimio could have casualties come the nominations. 

ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna could face off with Nominated MP Maina Kamanda for the movement's green light. A source from the Azimio camp, however, claims Raila and Uhuru are trying to impose a candidate on Nairobi residents, who they term a stranger.

He also predicted “a huge implosion” in Azimio premised on the fact that “all governor aspirants feel entitled to the position either based on their previous contribution to their respective parties, tribal arithmetic or financial influence.”

Jubilee’s Joint Parliamentary Group Secretary Adan Keynan, disclosed that Azimio will first evaluate the individual strength of candidates before deciding on who to settle for.

Sifuna said Azimio is open to negotiations and consensus.

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