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Powerful, dreaded Kibicho is no stranger to controversy

By Emeka Mayaka
Monday, March 8th, 2021
Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho.
In summary

When Karanja Kibicho swapped places with Monica Juma in 2015 and became Interior Principal Secretary from the Foreign Affairs docket, he was forced to make one critical decision.

He stopped what he described as his moderated drinking “to keep alert,” because of the magnitude and nature of his new job. And he has been quite alert.

The former Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology lecturer, then teamed up with Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to run one of the most sensitive dockets in the government.

Since then, Kibicho has been at loggerheads with key figures in and outside government, with a number accusing him of being behind their problems.

From a little-known civil servant, Kibicho has morphed into probably the most dreaded PS in government with his shadow hovering over many politicians’ heads because of all manner of accusations—true or false. And the list is long.

Forces around Deputy President William Ruto accuse Kibicho of mobilising government machinery to frustrate his political ambitions.

Kibicho has laughed off accusations by Ruto’s camp that he was in the cog of a section of Cabinet members who met at a city hotel with the intention of assassinating him.

“I hear assassination claims. Who has complained?. That’s utter nonsense. We should stop creating things that don’t exist,” Kibicho said.

Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, Kirinyaga county boss Anne Waiguru, former National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale and Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba have at one time been caught in cross-hairs with Kibicho.

The PS is currently at the centre of a new storm following sensational claims that he was not only frustrating the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) project, but may also have played an active role in last week’s Matungu and Kabuchai by-elections.

The Orange Democratic Movement has blamed the loss by its candidate in Matungu to the PS whom they accuse of mobilising state resources against the party.

On Saturday, National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohammed asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to bar Kibicho from BBI activities while Siaya Senator James Orengo accused “a gang at Harambee House,” of frustrating the Handshake between opposition chief Raila Odinga and Uhuru by crafting an alternative power succession strategy.

Junet warned that the BBI train is at risk of crumbling ahead of the referendum. He accused Kibicho of interfering with the BBI secretariat and trying to sabotage its efforts.

“If he must continue meddling in the work of the secretariat, i, if he is that indispensable, we will be left with no choice but to abandon the BBI. Kibicho is causing political constipation,” Junet said.

Separately, Orengo claimed the Harambee House “cabal” individuals are busy trying to determine who becomes the country’s president in 2022 instead of focusing on unity.

“We have seen what happened in Matungu and Kabuchai and all over the country. On a day of elections there should be total peace, and whereas Harambee House likes condemning politicians, this time round I’m condemning the administration, the people in Harambee House and the police,” he said.

Ardent, tenacious, affable and soft-spoken, the engineer has weathered many storms from his Harambee House. It would be interesting to monitor how he will navigate through the BBI storm which is Uhuru and Raila’s pet project.

In January, he recorded a statement with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations after Sonko made what he considered defamatory comments.

Last year, Kibicho had an ugly spat with Waiguru who accused him of funding her failed impeachment

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