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What Kabogo return means for Mt Kenya

POLITICS
By Ndungu Gachane | February 22nd 2021

 

Former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo at KTN Point Blank show. [File, Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

After taking a low profile following his defeat as he defended his governorship seat in 2017, former Kiambu governor William Kabogo is back to the political scene.

Kabogo’s activities have been visible in the Mt Kenya region after attending a leaders’ meeting convened by President Uhuru Kenyatta at Sagana State Lodge early this month.

The former governor, who has been mentioned as a possible replacement of Uhuru as the Mt Kenya kingpin after he retires next year, has been criss-crossing the region preaching the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) gospel.

In his usual flamboyant style, Kabogo has been holding meet-the-people tours on his own and has not bothered to team up with other teams that have been formed to spearhead the BBI campaigns.

He has assembled his campaign machinery that includes high powered sound systems mounted on vehicles.

He has, however, left locals and pundits guessing on his game plan as he has not stated whether he will be going back to Kiambu County politics as the governor or he plans to take a stab at the presidency.

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Joined the list

Kabogo has joined the list of leaders seeking to succeed Uhuru, joining the likes of former Cabinet secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth and Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria.

Former Gatanga Mp Peter Kenneth during a church service at St.Stephens church Jogoo road onApril 28, 2019. [Beverlyne Musili,Standard]

The former governor, who has avoided current affairs since 2017 when he was ousted by Ferdinand Waititu, has started meeting Mt Kenya elected and opinion leaders, as well as holding mini rallies over the BBI and 2022 succession game plan.

In an exclusive interview with The Standard, the former governor said he decided to wake up and campaign for the proposed Constitutional (amendment) Bill in the vast Mt Kenya because of the gains the document seeks to introduce in the region, and after realising the gaps by those selling the document.

Kabogo said initially, he openly criticised the BBI report, but after it was amended following the Bomas meeting, he reread the document and discovered the positive gains it held for the region.

“After the Bomas meeting, there were issues that were addressed in the BBI report like the one-man-one vote-one-shilling and being a former governor, I decided to support and drum up support for the Bill,” Kabogo told The Standard.

He said he has been educating Mt Kenya residents on the gains of BBI and advising them to vote for the report and at the same time vote for leaders who will not steal the resources that will be devolved to counties.

On his mission to succeed Uhuru as Mt Kenya’s spokesperson, Kabogo said the region cannot sit pretty and wait for someone to show them the spokesperson of the Agikuyu community. This, he explained, was the reason he sought the mandate of locals to represent their issues at the national table.

“No one shows the region who their spokesperson is. God chooses the leader and leadership is never given; it is taken. We cannot wait to be told who will represent the region, and you can see after setting the ground rolling, the perception on BBI has changed,” Kabogo said.

The politician said he has held meetings with leaders from Kiambu, Murang’a, Nyeri, Laikipia and Nyandarua counties, and that he is scheduled to meet those from Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Kirinyaga, Embu and other Mt Kenya counties.

Branded vehicles

Former Kiambu County Governor William Kabogo arrives at Mt Kenya BBI Forum in Meru. [File, Kibata Kihu, Standard]

“I have been meeting opinion and elected leaders and some have agreed with my intentions but even with those who I have not met, that has not stopped me from conducting meet-the-people tours. The reason I am doing this is simple; so that when I talk in various platforms, I represent those I have met and who have given me their grievances and concerns as their representative,” he said.

Kabogo has branded a fleet of vehicles that he has been using in his campaign tours, and has also been going from one media house to another drumming up support for BBI.

Asked whether there has been a mutual understanding and the blessings of the State considering that other pro-BBI supporters have also been doing the same, Kabogo said he was meeting his campaigns budget from his pocket and that he only needed “to fuel my vehicles and hit the ground running”.

“I am never an errand boy, I am not usually sent, all what is needed is fuelling the vehicles and hit the ground running. If I need money I have friends who can sponsor my activities,” he said.

He added he was in good terms with the president, his deputy William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga, but that he has been urging them to take care of the country as it was bigger than them, or else all will be sent home by Kenyans.

Kabogo’s entrance in Mt Kenya’s succession game plan complicates the plans of wa Iria, Kenneth and Kiunjuri. Political pundits explain that the former governor is a politician with financial muscles and a clean name.

Charles Njoroge, a political scientist, said Kabogo’s authority and experience in politics will work for him since he knows the region inside out, and that he was an old ‘political name’ in the region as opposed to some leaders eyeing the succession seat.

Financial muscles

“Kabogo cannot be underrated, he has a combination of huge financial muscles and he is eloquent. Compared with wa Iria, Kiunjuri and Kenneth, he can only be compared with Kenneth as the two have no corruption scandals, but he is ahead of Kenneth when it comes to grassroots mobilisation tactics,” said Njoroge.

The political scientist noted that Waititu’s impeachment and the subsequent fights in the camp that ousted him in Kiambu vindicate Kabogo and present him as a leader who was not voted back because of propaganda, but political witch hunt.

He said those are the tactics that Kabogo will use to endear himself to the masses.

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