Six Jubilee aspirants show interest in the Nairobi governor's seat

Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju. [File, Standard]

Six individuals are eyeing Jubilee Party ticket for the Nairobi gubernatorial by-election even as other political parties falter on fielding candidates.

A senior official at Jubilee headquarters said six aspirants had already shown interest in getting the party’s nod for the by-election slated for February 18, 2021.

However, Raphael Tuju, the Jubilee Party secretary-general said the party would wait for the deadline before making public the names of individuals seeking the party ticket.

The seat fell vacant after the impeachment of Governor Mike Sonko two weeks ago and his deputy governor nominee battling a court case over suitability.

The office was declared vacant last Monday following the swearing-in of Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Benson Mutura as acting governor.

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), the runners up in the 2017 General Election, is blowing hot and cold on fielding a candidate for the seat.

Wiper, Amani National Congress and Ford Kenya, which all had candidates in 2017, are non-committal on whether they will take part in the by-election.

In a gazette notice, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has directed political parties wishing to participate in the by-election to submit names of individuals contesting in the party primaries by December 28.

Political parties are expected to conduct primaries and resolve any disputes arising from the exercise before submitting a list of nominees to the commission by January 11.

In the gazette notice, IEBC asked politicians seeking to participate in the poll as independent candidates to submit their names and symbols by January 11.

Public officers intending to run for the seat have until close of business today to resign.

Jubilee has extended the period for application to tomorrow. Initially, the party said those interested had up to last Friday to apply.

Extended time

“We have given people up to Monday and some have decided to take advantage of the extended time,” Tuju said.

Already, former assistant Minister Margaret Wanjiru and Building Bridges Initiative secretariat co-chair Dennis Waweru have shown interest in the seat while Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja has said he is still “consulting with residents” before he makes a decision.

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

It is not clear whether Peter Kenneth, who ran against Sonko during the Jubilee Party primaries in 2017, is among those who have submitted their papers for nomination.

Yesterday, Catherine Muma, the ODM elections board chair said the party leadership would make a decision on whether or not to field a candidate.

The board has asked individuals interested in running for the seat to submit applications by tomorrow. “The party leadership will look at the candidates; they will sit and discuss whether we are going for it or not,” Muma said.

“There are a lot of considerations to be made after the deadline. We have to vet the individuals to ascertain if they meet the deadline and if they can deliver the seat. A party does not go to an election merely because people have applied to participate,” she said.

Interviews with some of the key political parties painted a picture of outfits not keen on the battle for Nairobi’s top job.

Judith Sijeny, Wiper secretary-general said the party was yet to discuss issues about the by-election. “We have not met to discuss that. Party decisions are made by its organs. National Executive Council has not met. If there is something, we will make it public,” Sijeny said.

Her remarks suggest that the party was not keen on fielding a candidate given that the electoral commission has since directed political parties seeking to participate in the race to submit names of individuals contesting in the party primaries by tomorrow.

Political partners

ODM chair John Mbadi said the party would have to consult with its political partner Jubilee before making a decision on whether or not to field a candidate.

“I am sure we will discuss with our partners before we can communicate our position as a party on the mini-poll,” Mbadi said.

He said the party’s elections board would invite interested parties so as to meet the timelines set by the electoral commission but the final decision would be made by NEC.

“NEB can go ahead and call for applications, but NEC will make the final decision on whether to field a candidate or not in Nairobi,” he said.?

Musalia Mudavadi-led ANC has also not made a decision on the duel for the control of the country’s capital city.

Former Nairobi Mayor Philip Kisia and former Makadara MP Reuben Ndolo had shown interest in the ANC ticket for the seat, according to the party’s deputy leader and Lugari MP Ayub Savula.

Earlier in the week, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Ford Kenya party leader and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula and Mudavadi met in Machakos and said they would field candidates jointly.