Factors that will influence Kiambu governor race

Friday, December 3rd, 2021 00:00 | By
Thika MP Patrick Wainaina

The contest for Kiambu governor’s seat is gaining momentum as more candidates join the race.

Unlike in 2013 and 2017 elections when the contest was a two-horse race, this time round it has so far attracted nine candidates who want to unseat Governor James Nyoro.

Those who have declared interest are incumbent Nyoro, former county chiefs William Kabogo and Ferdinand Waititu, Senator Kimani Wamatangi, Thika Town MP Patrick Wainaina and Assembly Speaker Stephen Ndicho. Others are Agnes Ndung’u, a Social and Community Development worker, ex-county official Juliet Kimemia and Mwende Gatabaki, economist David Ndii’s wife.

As the number of aspirants goes up so are the residents’ demands. However, the candidate’s performance records, integrity and their choice of running mates will likely determine the next county boss.

County is split into two—Kiambu West and East—a geographical ingredient expected to play a major role in the elections like in 2013.

Political scientist

A candidate from Kiambu West may be forced to pick a running mate from the East to increase their chances of winning.

Devolved unit has 12 constituencies; Kiambu Township, Githunguri, Lari, Limuru, Kabete, Kikuyu and Kiambaa which form Kiambu West and Thika, Juja, Ruiru, Gatundu North and Gatundu South (Kiambu East)
Joseph Kamau, a political scientist says: “It’d be imperative for an aspirant to split the two position of governor and his deputy. But if we have the governor and his deputy from the same region, voters from the other sides may feel shortchanged.”

For instance, in 2013, Kabogo, who hails from Ruiru, tapped Gerald Githinji from Limuru as his deputy while Nyoro from Kikuyu had picked Elizabeth Wangui from Thika. In 2017, however, the geographical factor was subdued by the anti-Kabogo wave, which allowed Waititu, the former Kabete MP to pair with Nyoro despite them hailing from Kiambu West.

When Waititu was impeached, Nyoro picked Joyce Ngugi from Gatundu South in the East as his deputy.

Integrity is also shaping the choice of aspirant, with Waititu facing heavy criticism over his past deeds when he was in office. Waititu was impeached over allegations of corruption, gross misconduct and abuse of office. He was also dragged to court over alleged loss of Sh588 million. The case is ongoing.

Campaign agenda

Reports from the Auditor General have also put Nyoro’s administration on the spot. Nyoro’s administration has been at centre of focus from a section of the electorate. He has in the recent past been engaging in a flurry of activities, which include visiting county projects that include health, roads, education and agriculture in what has been viewed as part of his efforts to endear himself to the electorate.

“I have been accused of not declaring whether I will be in the race. You cannot be on the seat and not want to retain it. You cannot be upstanding and then you it down,” he said.

County boss is also grappling with allegations of graft that has seen him and Wamatangi clash, notably over a special audit by the Auditor General that flagged the anomalies in Sh328 million Covid funds.

Nyoro has, however, accused Wamatangi of exploiting his oversight role to advance his ambition by painting his administration in bad light.
Wamatangi , the only Senator in central Kenya serving a second term.
However, he has been engaging in activities that barely disguise his interest in the governorship.

He stakes his popularity on enactment of Assumption of the Governor’s Office Act and an amendment of Micro and Small Enterprise Act to boost small businesses.

He has also been donating water tanks to institutions, free transport and computer training as well as sanitising public places and ferrying water in informal settlements to help in war against Covid-19 through his Wamatangi Foundation.

“We are first concentrating on our mandate of oversight and ensuring that counties get more resources to ensure equity and equality in distribution of resources. At the right time, we will declare,” he said.

However, Wamatangi has been grappling with allegations of being “too cautions” given his ambivalence on national politics.

Political analyst Alvan Kinyua says: “Wamatangi is a good and modest man, very civil, brilliant and logical. Epitome of gentleman-ship but sadly, the face of indecisiveness, which is catastrophic for the gubernatorial race”.

Another pundit, Kimani Wakimaa, says: “It shall be a more individualist approach influenced by one’s popularity, competency and financial muscle as against the party euphoria that has previously dominated the political scene before.

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