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How Peter Kenneth can still win Nairobi gubernatorial race
By Amos Wasike | Updated Jun 09, 2017 at 10:23 EAT
Nairobi gubernatorial aspirant Peter Kenneth

Pundits are predicting a Kidero-Sonko horse race for Nairobi governor. And with the entry of third party candidates, Kidero believes his re-election is a sealed deal. They’re all making a big mistake: Peter Kenneth is more formidable than people imagine.

Indeed without the backing of a major political party, a treacherous political terrain awaits him in the coming months, but with a huge and unique voting base in Nairobi County, he has as good a chance as any, contesting as an independent candidate.

And so far, Kenneth is moving in the right direction.

Last week, he picked the legendary footballer Dr. Dan Shikanda as his running mate. And in tapping Shikanda, Kenneth is sending a warning shot to Dr. Kidero. He’s courting a core voting block Kidero must secure to win re-election.

He is gearing up for a gruesome fight with Kidero and ODM over sizeable Luhya votes in the city; lots of them.

So why Shikanda? Shikanda is Luhya. Kenneth understands Kidero’s history with the Luhya community, a far-from-stellar reputation tainted with mistrust and suspicion; it begins and (literally) ends with Mumias Sugar Company.

While Kidero has denied allegations of mismanaging this iconic company, the scandal’s undercurrent runs deep among the group, and Shikanda will most likely exploit this issue in a bid to sway voters away from Kidero.Unfortunately for Kidero, many people from Mulembe country continue to believe he played a key role in the demise of Mumias Sugar Company. It’s a disrepute that festers on more than five years since resigning from the company to join politics.

Secondly, while the Luhya community remains solidly behind Raila Odinga, many feel Kidero has not yet earned their support; that he’s nothing but an opportunist. Predictably, this faction of voters leans independent and will most likely find an appealing alternative in Kenneth.

The Kidero camp knows without a substantial support from NASA coalition communities, his chances of re-election will be diminished exponentially.

Also, many Nairobians who voted Kidero in 2013 – especially the elites, are disappointed in his leadership. Kidero has simply not delivered on his campaign promises and instead, City Hall appears to be a sanctuary for all sorts of ills, with allegations ranging from corruption to fiscal mismanagement and nepotism.

Insecurity is a huge concern in Nairobi. Traffic jams, dry water taps, overflowing sewage, garbage in streets are constant reminders of what hasn’t worked in the past 5 years. Kenneth’s not only highlighting Kidero’s failed campaign promises but also proposing solutions to day-to-day issues wananchi face in the city.

Kidero is in an untenable position, and considering that his 2013 win against a weak candidacy in Ferdinand Waititu was just a little over 70, 000 votes, any number less than maximum votes from his coalition poses a real threat to his re-election bid. Some voters may not give him a second change.

Lastly, Nairobi is perhaps the most liberal county in the country. It’s a home to all Kenyans. And while it’s not unusual to find certain tribes clustered in specific parts of the city, people from different communities live next to one another and in a significant way, people are ‘less-tribal’ compared to counterparts on the countryside. Faced with a choice between strong independent and weak party-endorsed candidates, these folks will have no qualms picking the former.In 2013, out of about 1.3 total voters in Nairobi, in the governor’s race, Kidero trounced Waititu with 70, 000. In the senatorial race, however, Mike Sonko was elected over Bishop Wanjiru with a margin of about 300, 000 votes. This is proof a big voting public did not necessarily vote along party lines. Kenneth definitely has a fighting chance with this group.

That being said, to come on top, Kenneth has to figure out how to deflate the support of Jubilee’s Mike Sonko, especially in slum areas where he enjoys enormous support.

Governor of Nairobi is perhaps the most coveted seat among all other gubernatorial positions, and as such, a Kenneth win in August will be a monumental accomplishment for an independent candidate. Without a doubt, it will mark a new beginning in Kenya’s democratic history.

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