Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Thursday, 26 Jan 2017 16:55 EATgitahireuben@gmail.com
The Nairobi gubernatorial race is shaping up as a race that has no clear winner in sight with changing dynamics day by day. Wednesday’s stoning of Governor Evans Kidero’s convoy in the sprawling Dandora has removed a myth many in the governor's campaign are wont to perpetuate: that Mr Kidero's nomination by ODM is a foregone conclusion.
The stoning has been reported mainly as a small incident, where youths who were demanding handouts from the governor pelted his suposed convoy with stones, injuring journalists who were not even in the convoy. Whatever the youths' grievances were, Dandora is, or should be, one of Mr Kidero's strongholds, and a wrong message is sent when youths stone him there for whatever reason.
What the stoning reveals is that Mr Kidero is not the shoe-in for re-election that his supporters claim him to be. As opposition unity becomes ever more possible, CORD supporters are beginning to speak openly against the governor, expressing their views about him at meetings with Raila Odinga and through violent expressions as happened in Dandora.
The picture that emerges from an analysis of recent events is one of a leader losing clout with the foot-soldiers of ODM. In the Nairobi assembly, many are the MCAs who speak about the governor's failings with greater candour than would be expected a few years back. Cracks appeared in the CORD team during last year's vote of no confidence that was propagated by a CORD member of the assembly.
The governor was also heckled in rallies in Kibera in the year, and, in September following the rival Jubilee Party launch and ODM@10 meetings in Nairobi and Mombasa he unwittingly played second fiddle to Mombasa governor Hassan Joho who organised the opposition's rallies in Nairobi, all in order to recultivate his opposition base.
Before the Dandora incident, Mr Kidero was on the spot during Mr Odinga's meeting with ODM aspirants at the Nyayo Stadium last week. One aspirant after another informed Mr Odinga that Governor Kidero was not the right candidate for Nairobi. They lamented that the governor had no time for them and does not consult with the party hierarcy as expected of a senior leader. "Kidero should not wait until you are coming to meet us to claim that he was also looking forward to this meeting," said one of the speakers.
Mr Odinga didn't come out openly on the lamentations, and a source at his secretariat has informed us that he privately informed the aspirants to go slow on the governor since his position could be handed over to the Amani National Coalition led by Musalia Mudavadi. The position is the sole office Mr Mudavadi has considered away from the presidency and deputy presidency.
To Mr Odinga's allies, placing Mr Mudavadi in the capital will help the alliance strike two birds with one stone. First is to resolve the power-sharing claims among the opposition luminaries, and second, give a soft landing to a man who nurses presidential ambitions despite his series of missteps during the formation of coalitions since 2002. It would elevate Mr Mudavadi at par with other potential successors of Mr Odinga's in case the opposition alliance wins power this August.
On the Jubilee side, Peter Kenneth is angling for the position with strong support of the national power elites who believe that the Nairobi governorship rather than the deputy presidency would be the primary route to Kenya's leadership. "Nairobi is likely to play the role such cities or states as Paris, Warsaw and New York has in national elections in France, Poland and America."
But all is not rosy on the Jubilee camp. Confusion seems to reign supreme with two camps springing up for the governorship race. One camp is led by senator Mike Mbuvi Sonko and consists of Johnstone Sakaja, Margret Wanjiru and Dennis Waweru while the second group is being led by the financial power centres and revolves around Mr Kenneth. It is supported by elected legislators who include Maina Kamanda, John Njoroge and Waihenya Ndiarangu.
The matter seems more complicated for Jubilee since, even though Mr Kenneth is the strongest candidate to beat the opposition, he suffers from lack of goodwill from deputy president William Ruto who sees a threat for his Uhuru succession bid. Mr Sonko’s side, though strong, seems to be feeling the president's aloofness.
Jubilee will be looking closely as to who CORD chooses. If the opposition went with Mr Kidero, Jubilee would confidently put Mr Kenneth on the ticket. However, the choice of Mr Mudavadi would make the CORD ticket more diverse ethnically, and Jubilee would be hard pressed to present a Kikuyu candidate regardless of his merits and try to balance its parliamentary and civic races.
Both coalitions are also watching the insurgent campaign of independent candidate Miguna Miguna who is building a rainbow coalition of voters repelled by the cronysm endemic in both sides of the politics.
The writer is an experienced journalist, lecturer and researcher based in Nairobi