April 27th 2017

Top Stories / 2017 Elections

In bid for Nairobi Kikuyu vote, Peter Kenneth discards sheepskin

Where has criticised Kidero, he calls the governor by his little-known Luo name, Odhiambo, conveying a keenness to remind voters who might not known that Kidero was a Luo. But he suppressed his own Kikiyu identity, including his tribal name reported to be 'Githendu'.

By Priscillah Wanjirupwanjiru@kenyafreepress.comSunday, 02 Apr 2017 16:52 EAT

President Kenyatta and Nairobi gubernatorial aspirant Peter Kenneth during a past event.

Nairobi senator Mike Sonko last week gave a clear indication that he could defect from the ruling Jubilee Party if the party gave the Nairobi governorship ticket to his opponent Peter Kenneth. Uncharacteristically for Sonko, he also said he would not help the Jubilee Party nominee to win the seat against incumbent Evans Kidero by running as an independent.

"There are alternatives which I can consider to ensure I represent the people of Nairobi….But some people are now scheming that I should run as an independent candidate so that I split votes with Governor Evans Kidero to allow the Jubilee candidate to sail through. I will not do that,” he said, speaking at Ngara Market.

Sonko, who is involved in a tight nomination race in which the Jubilee Party mandarins are exhausting the weapons in their arsenal to see Mr Kenneth win, also declared that he would not appear before the party’s Disciplinary Committee which had summoned him in connection with the chaos witnessed at the Bomas of Kenya during the botched selection for the Nairobi County Elections Board.

Mr Kenneth has emerged as the favourite of the Jubilee establishment, including top Kikuyu businessmen and politicians from Nairobi led by Starehe MP Maina Kamanda. While Sonko prefers a democratic process in which Jubilee Party members elect their most popular candidate, Kenneth’s promoters have rolled out a campaign for their candidate’s coronation by working the party machinery or having backroom deals.

A day before Sonko’s bitter words, Mr Kenneth, a late entrant in Jubilee, had reached out to the senator and expressed willingness for the rivals to agree among themselves on a unity formula whereby Kenneth is the natural governorship candidate. Sonko rejected those overtures.

At the botched Bomas meeting, the Maina Kamanda group had allegedly schemed to have only Kenneth-supporting members selected to the Elections Board, a development that would ensure Sonko’s loss even before the race starts. Earlier, Sonko had raised concerns about the high number of membership cards Mr Kenneth had purchased for his supporters as part of a bureaucratic plan to ensure Sonko’s loss at the nomination stage.

The senator also questions the ethnicised support that all the Jubilee-allied MPs in Nairobi, all of whom are from the Kikuyu tribe, have also rallied to Kenneth’s side, with the only exception being Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru who for years was the MPs’ favourite candidate. Mr Kenneth sees no problem with that tribal support.

The anti-Sonko animus within the party was also evident when, after the chaos at Bomas, the senator was the only one summoned by the party Disciplinary Committee. He expressed shock too that he was being asked to pay damages amounting to Sh7 million, wondering aloud what the damages were and why Kenneth was not being charged as well.

As the Sonko-Kenneth duel continues to unfold, Mr Kenneth, who for decades carried himself as the cosmopolitan Kenyan, has not only remained silent as Jubilee mandarins do their past to clear the path for him, but he has also seemingly lent his support to the subversion of the democratic process in his favour.

His campaigns have been concentrated among Kikuyu voters, and, where has criticised Governor Kidero (which is often these days), he calls the governor by his little-known middle name, Odhiambo, conveying a keenness to remind voters who might not known that Kidero was a Luo. But such tribal calculation contrasts with Kenneth's suppression of his Kikiyu identity, including his tribal name reported to be 'Githendu'.

In interviews with some experts, this website got the picture of a completely changed Peter Kenneth from the one who ran for president in 2013 on account of his alleged forward-looking, cosmopolitan outlook. Even though he got only 72,786 votes, the 2013 Kenneth was popular among the detribalized Kenyans.

A Kikuyu, he rejected Uhuru Kenyatta on the basis that the current president had no performance record. He opposed tribalism and corruption in the country, only to join Uhuru in 2017 when every objective analyst believes Uhuru is a much worse candidate now than in 2013, with a record of corruption, inefficiency and ethnic polarity never witnessed in Kenya before.

Kenneth is yet to explain to the country why Uhuru is better now than in 2013. He also doesn't share his speeches on social media, unlike in 2013 when he ran a long-shot campaign for President. The many articles he used to post into his blog are no longer written, apparently because he cares more now to a tribal constituency than trying to share any vision.

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