Tight Nairobi governor race shapes up as aspirants dig in
A fierce political battle simmers in Nairobi City County pitting the Azimio-One Kenya coalition against their Kenya Kwanza Alliance challengers.
Senator Johnson Sakaja, the Kenya Kwanza Alliance Nairobi gubernatorial candidate faces former Nairobi deputy governor Polycarp Igathe, who is flying the Azimio-One Kenya banner.
At stake are more than 2.5 million votes spread across 17 constituencies that will determine the next occupant of City Hall.
Sakaja’s political alliance with Deputy President William Ruto and Igathe’s association with ODM leader Raila Odinga are big factors in the outcome of the high-stakes governorship race.
They both bank on their influence and that of their respective presidential candidates to tilt votes in their favour.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession race is also likely to influence how electors in the capital city will vote.
Kenyatta who heads a rejuvenated Jubilee party has thrown his weight behind Raila’s presidential bid overlooking his deputy in the succession matrix.
Raila, who is making his fifth stab at the presidency is running on the Azimio-One Kenya coalition ticket while Ruto is on the Kenya Kwanza Alliance movement where he is supported by ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetangula and Mathira MP Rifathi Gachafua who is also the ticket’s deputy president-designate.
The choice of a deputy governor is also likely to influence who the outcome of who succeeds Governor Anne Kananu as the boss at City Hall.
Igathe, a former deputy governor during Mike Sonko’s administration and who is from the Jubilee Party is deputised by former Kibwezi MP Philip Kaloki, who is from the Kalonzo Musyoka-led Wiper party.
ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna is flying the Azimio team’s senatorial flag, while incumbent Esther Passaris will defend her woman representative seat. If elected, Igathe has promised a clean and bright city, as well as a government that will provide basic services to the people.
“The #IgatheKaloki team will serve the people and restore hope and dignity in Nairobi City. Hii ndio Nai tunataka!,” he said on his tour of Gikomba market on Tuesday.
“Nairobi residents, rest assured that you will be safe under my leadership as we work together to restore order and transform the city,” he added.
Igathe, who has been campaigning under the #NaiTunavyoitaka mantra insisted he and his deputy will offer servant leadership which he claimed was a calling.
“It’s not a coat you buy and wear temporarily. My track record of service delivery and transforming lives speaks for itself,” he said on Tuesday as he took his campaigns to downtown the CBD.
He termed the lack of spaces for people to trade in and operate their businesses a major issue his government will address if elected.
“The #IgatheKaloki County Government will create a land policy that allows sharing of spaces for people to work in. We will also look into the formal acquisition of land and formal expansion of trade spaces within the various wards so that women and youth can set up businesses and earn a living,” he said.
The Azimio team will face the Kenya Kwanza Alliance Nairobi team led by Sakaja and former Absa Bank Kenya Ltd Chief Operating Officer James Njoroge Muchiri as his running-mate.
In the line-up, former Starehe lawmaker Margaret Wanjiru is contesting the Senate seat while nominated Senator Millicent Omanga will battle for Woman Representative’ eat.
While unveiling Muchiri ahead of the May 16 deadline for naming running mates, Sakaja said his second in command will not just be a deputy governor, but one with a docket in the business sector, to help in actualizing the bottom-up economic blueprint in the city.
“Unlike many deputy governors who just sit and have tea and read newspapers, he brings a wealth of experience from the corporate world. He perfectly fits the bill of what we want to do in Nairobi,” said Sakaja.
The duo has also pledged a handful of goodies to Nairobi residents, if elected during August 9th polls.
Disburse cash to Wards
Sakaja pledged to disburse Sh50 million per year to each of the 85 wards in Nairobi to facilitate small businesses.
“Nairobi’s budget is more than Sh35 billion every year and it cannot be impossible to allocate some of this money to promote mama mboga and other small traders in the spirit of the UDA bottom-up philosophy,” he said at a church service at the African Inland Pentecostal Church of Africa, Dandora.
Sakaja also pledged to prioritise the construction of a recycling plant at the Dandora dumpsite.
“Garbage menace in Nairobi has been a problem in the past two governments. If elected, my administration will ensure that plans commence to set up a recycling plant that will turn the waste into energy,” he said.
Nairobi generates 3,000 metric tonnes of waste in a day and most of it goes to the Dandora dumpsite, which has been full for years and is not sustainable.
Dandora dumpsite was officially opened in 1975 with World Bank funds and was considered full in 2001.
In a move to get rid of the dumpsite, last year the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) led by director-general Mohamed Badi and KenGen, signed an MoU to set up an energy plant.
The initial site of the project was the Dandora dumpsite. However, it was noted that it was under the aviation flight path.
Instead, NMS will set up a Sewage Treatment Plant Facility at Ruai following the approval of the project’s feasibility study.