Jubilee faces a catch-22 over Sicily, Kimemia county race

Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia, Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition presidential nominee Raila Odinga and former Water CS Sicily Kariuki at Engineer in Nyandarua. [File, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party’s dilemma over which candidate to pick for the Nyandarua County governor race became more apparent yesterday after the party excluded the ticket from the certificates it issued.

The Jubilee Party Election Board chairman Stephen Wandeto and Director for Elections Kanini Kega issued certificates to all the party’s candidates from Mt Kenya region, including Nyandarua. But while all aspirants were handed their tickets, no ticket was issued for aspirants in the governor race.

The party is in a catch-22 situation over the incumbent Governor Francis Kimemia and former Water and Sanitation Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki’s candidature. 

Mr Kimemia is seeking to defend his seat while Ms Kariuki resigned from Cabinet to swim in the murky political waters with the hope of clinching the governorship.

Political pundits argue that whoever bags the Jubilee ticket will have a higher chance of winning the coveted seat if they successfully battle it out with United Democratic Alliance’s (UDA) Moses Kiarie alias Badilisha.

The man to beat, however, is Mr Kimemia who is Uhuru’s ally.

The governor was a long-serving administrator in former President Kibaki and President Uhuru’s governments, and was among the first leaders from Mt Kenya region to embrace ODM leader Raila Odinga after the 2018 handshake.

Mr Kimemia is also believed to be best suited to neutralise the UDA support wave sweeping across Nyandarua County and Mt Kenya region.

Being an incumbent he has resources at his disposal to assemble a campaign arsenal that could guarantee him a second term.

Political analyst Herman Manyora believes Jubilee party is walking a tight rope in trying to have Mr Kimemia and Ms Kariuki reach a consensus and suggests that they should be subjected to free and fair nominations.

Mr Manyora says that it will be an intricate balance for the Uhuru-led party as it seeks to pick a candidate and avert a possible fallout. “Some form of election should take place to determine who gets the Jubilee ticket. Consensus may not work because you cannot prevail upon Kimemia as an incumbent to ‘step down’ in favour of Sicily,” he said.

“Sicily’s argument will also be that it is too late to go the consensus-building route because if Jubilee party was intent on handing the ticket to Kimemia, then it should have prevailed upon her before she resigned as the Water Cabinet Secretary,” he added.

Mr Manyora also opined that the fact that the Jubilee party allowed Ms Kariuki to resign, gave the impression that the party had no problem with her contesting for the governor’s seat.

“…to that extent, mistakes have been made by the party and the best way to correct the situation is to subject the two contestants to a free and fair nomination process,” he said.

Jubilee Party Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni said that they are banking on consensus building to resolve the stalemate in Nyandarua and other counties such as Murang’a and Maragua Constituency where President Uhuru’s allies are battling for the same seats.

Mr Kioni said the party wants to manage the process carefully to avoid acrimony.

“Jubilee Party will issue direct nomination certificates to unopposed aspirants and in positions where there is more than one aspirant the party will select candidates through consensus,” he said.

Kega told The Saturday Standard that talks with aspirants to reach a consensus are being spearheaded by President Uhuru.