Political realignments are shaping up in Nakuru County as the succession debate rages and a looming referendum dawns on residents.
Though divisions among local leaders are being covered up on the face value, two camps, one allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta and another to his Deputy William Ruto, face an imminent fallout.
The cracks which were emerging as a result of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) have temporarily been sealed after the camps agreed to work together.
Governor Lee Kinyanjui, who is leading Uhuru’s camp, has now found himself on one side with his political nemesis, Senator Susan Kihika, who is reportedly eyeing the county chief’s postion.
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Former Governor Kinuthia Mbugua, who is the current Statehouse Comptroller and Kinyanjui’s rival, is also said to be planning to make a comeback for what he terms as “unfinished business” with his home county.
During an impromptu visit to Nakuru’s CBD where he addressed traders, Governor Kinyanjui said he was ready to work with other elected and former leaders, urging them to hold their horses on succession.
“It is good that the BBI has brought us together. We should now work jointly to deliver on our mandates. When the right time comes, we shall have a deliberation on who should vie for what seat,” he said.
His sentiments came against the backdrop of accusations that he planned the showdown at a State function last week in which Kihika and Nakuru Town East MP David Gikaria were denied access. “It is unfortunate that local politics played out at a presidential function. Someone feared that in our attendance, we would question their service delivery record,” Kihika told the press afterwards.
A bitter Gikaria said they would ‘punish’ Kinyanjui for his actions come 2022. He was disappointed that despite the function being held in his constituency, he was not invited.
Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, who was on the front line campaigning for Kinyanjui in 2017, also fired salvos at him, terming his actions as betrayal to his supporters.
“This cheap politics that Kinyanjui is playing will not take him far. I was his lead campaigner and mobilised his votes in Bahati and beyond but he seems to have forgotten all that,” Ngunjiri said recently.
Kinyanjui, however, rubbished the claims, saying he had no control of who attends a State function.
“As a governor, who am I to determine who attends a presidential function? The President allowed attendance of people he felt support his agenda,” he said.
Other MPs who have been presumed to be anti-BBI are Kimani Kuria (Molo), Moses Cheboi (Kuresoi North), Charity Kathambi (Njoro), Joseph Tanui (Kuresoi South) and Jayne Kihara of Naivasha.
Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Arama, who defected to Jubilee ahead of the last General Election, has kept a safe distance from the Tangatanga movement.
Rongai MP Raymond Moi is on the other hand backing his brother Senator Gideon Moi to succeed President Kenyatta in 2022.
However, MPs Martha Wangari (Gilgil) and Samuel Gachobe (Subukia) appear not to be aligned to any camp. Former Molo MP Njenga Mungai and former Njoro MP Joseph Kiuna, who are eyeing the same seats in 2022, have thrown their weight behind Kinyanjui’s camp.