Tycoons from the Kikuyu community are grooming former presidential candidate Peter Kenneth to succeed Uhuru Kenyatta as the regional kingpin once Uhuru goes home.
According to sources, the move to anoint Kenneth or PK in the region is aimed at filling the leadership vacuum among the Kikuyus that has seen deputy president William Ruto capitalise on. Uhuru failure to pick his region’s successor is being blamed for current politics of uncertainity in the region that has seen a number of MPs rebel and join join Ruto bandwagon.
Uhuru decision to use top state officials to consolidate his power base in the region suffered after they met at Mada Hotel and DP wing came out accusing them using the meetings to plan his assassination that raising political heat late last year. With the development agenda using PSs and CSs having failed to counter Uhuru rebellion, schemers are now fronting political solution to the headache using the PK factor. It is imperative to note, Uhuru and Kenneth are members of the monied Boys Club whose activities came to be known during the death of Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore.
Top government officials who have decided to back the political solution to tame Ruto as they concentrate on state duties are James Macharia, John Mucheru, Karanja Kibicho, Joseph Njoroge, Kinuthia Mbugua, Mutahi Kagwe and Peter Munya among others.
Weekly Citizen has information, Uhuru has been told that the region is in darkness on who to succeed him and rely on national cake bargain politically and voters feel, he is deserting them in retirement with no person to lead the flock. As a result, propaganda of him creating the vacuum to remain in power or have one of the Kenyattas inherit is working negatively.
The tycoons and elected leaders in the Kieleweke grouping are now spearheading Kenneth’s rebranding in readiness for him to fit into Uhuru’s large shoes when the president leaves office in 2022. Nominated MP Maina Kamanda, a powerful force in Uhuru succession and David Murathe wanted Kenneth Nairobi governor 2017.
Those pushing for the former Gatanga MP to play a key role in Uhuru succession include members of the Mount Kenya Foundation, a lobby of wealthy and influential businesspeople, which is mobilising resources to bankroll local leaders to crisscross Central Kenya to prepare the ground. The lobby is chaired by businessman Stanley Munga.
Another grouping, Central Kenya Economic Bloc that comprises elected governors is also backing the campaign to have Kenneth carry the region’s baton.
Before the Building Bridges Initiative rally at Kinoru Stadium in Meru, there were fears that Mount Kenya region — the country’s most populous — was in a political quagmire due to lack of an alternative leadership once Uhuru exits the stage in 2022.
The Kinoru meeting, which was attended by Mount Kenya political leadership drawn from Embu, Meru, Kirinyaga, Laikipia, Murang’a, Nyeri, Tharaka-Nithi, Nyandarua, Nakuru and Kiambu, was therefore expected to give the region the political direction.
There were also fears of a split after some leaders skipped several meetings held across the region in the runup to the rally.
Those who boycotted the forums are allies of Ruto.
More worrying was the rivalry between Ruto allies and those of Uhuru and Raila Odinga which played out even during the rally.
But after the rally, signals have been emerging of Kenneth rising as the political kingpin after Uhuru.
Although the former Gatanga MP has not announced his political ambitions, his latest moves such as gracing the BBI rally in Kinoru Stadium point to a bigger ballgame in the offing.
The former presidential candidate was among the regional leaders who came up with the Kinoru declaration that called for an inclusive executive with five key positions.
The blue-print captured the region’s expectations when Uhuru leaves the political scene after serving his final term as head of state.
The Mount Kenya region pushed for an executive president elected by the people through universal suffrage – 50pc plus one vote and at least 25pc of the votes cast in each of more than 24 counties, as the head of state and government, commander-in-chief of the defence forces as the central symbol of national unity.
Knowing that the region is unlikely to produce a presidential candidate, the Mount Kenya tycoons want Kenneth to be either the deputy president or prime minister.
Curiously, in their presentation to the BBI in Kinoru read by Nyandarua governor Frances Kimemia, the region called for a deputy president as a running mate who will be the principal assistant of the president and also elected as member of the senate and will be a member of the cabinet and the leader of government business in the senate.
They also called for re-establishing the premier position where the occupier will be the head of government, appointed by the president from the party or coalition of parties with the majority of members in the national assembly, a member of the national assembly, official leader of government business in parliament, and who chairs meetings of cabinet sub-committees.
They also called for a deputy prime minister elected from the national assembly as the deputy majority leader to the premier and a deputy prime minister elected from the membership of the senate, in the cabinet and as the deputy majority leader and deputy to the deputy president and deputy leader of government business.
Insiders add that the tycoons want Kenneth to lead the Mount Kenya region in negotiating with Raila for the region’s post-2022 seats.
They want the region, which has over 8 million people given either the prime minister or deputy president post.
Besides Munga, others fronting Kenneth to lead the negotiations include Paul Ndung’u, director of mobile phone and accessories distribution firm Mobicom, former Kenya Revenue Authority Commissioner-General John Njiraini, Energy principal secretary Joseph Njoroge, and Interior PS Karanja Kibicho. Others include Stanley Kinyanjui, director of Outdoor Advertising Company Magnate, and Wanderjoy events organising and equipment director Maina Wandere and coffee business mogul Pius Ngugi.
The battle to succeed Uhuru as the Mt Kenya kingpin had pitted a number of aspirants before some of them opted out.
Some of the names that featured included Murang’a governor Mwangi wa Iria, axed Agriculture cabinet secretary Mwangi Kunjuri, Tharaka Nithi senator Kithure Kindiki, Kirinyaga governor Anne Waiguru and even Gatundu South legislator Moses Kuria.
Wa Iria has following in the region due to his grassroots support and social economic empowerment programmes that have uplifted the living standards of the locals and completion of Murang’a Cooperative Creameries.
However, he seems to have run out of steam and is also not in good books with the Mount Kenya Foundation whose chairman, Munga, is his bitter rival.
Wai Iria is also on the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission radar over financial impropriety.
For Waiguru who is serving her first term as governor, she was riding with her experience in governance and leadership after serving at the Treasury before joining the Devolution ministry.
Initially, Waiguru was hoping to deputise Ruto after the former Eldoret North MP hinted that he is likely to be deputised by a woman on measures of equipping and supporting women grow in leadership.
But with Ruto having run out of favour with the president, Waiguru made a big about turn and moved to the Kieleweke group that is rooting for Raila to succeed Uhuru in 2022.
But at Kieleweke she found out that Kenneth was one of the sponsors of the team which sees him as the best bet.
For Kiunjuri, his association with Ruto not only cost him the Agriculture docket but also lost him favour with Kikuyu tycoons who have not time for the deputy president.
Other names that featured include former Kiambu governor William Kabogo and Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua. But the two are seen as lone rangers.
The tycoons, sources aver, are wary of seeing the region go the 1992 way when it produced two presidential candidates – Kenneth Matiba and Mwai Kibaki – resulting in former president Daniel arap Moi’s win.
Kenneth, who has no public office after losing the 2017 Nairobi governor’s race, is now rebranding himself as the defender of the region’s interests.
But he is facing competition from Mt Kenya East’s Peter Munya, who successfully disentangled himself from the fractional Meru politics.
Munya is emerging the best from Mount Kenya East, outshining Kindiki and speaker Justin Muturi.
But his biggest undoing is that the Meru community consists of about 1 million voters, as opposed to the Kikuyu who are over four million.
The Mt Kenya Foundation was formed at the height of the 2007 post-election violence and comprises mainly of tycoons who hail from Central Kenya and has been crucial in pushing the Jubilee agenda in the region.
The group mobilised young people to register as voters in 11 Mt Kenya counties ahead of the 2013 and 2017 elections.
Besides Munga, other leaders in the group include Michael Waweru, the former Kenya Revenue Authority boss.
Another key member is Dennis Waweru, the former MP for Dagoretti South.
Waweru is the marketing director and chief dealer at Faida Investment Bank Limited and is also one of the insurance tycoons in Kenya.
Another member is Mutuma Nkanata, the NGO Council chief executive. He is the coordinator of the group.
Kenneth, according to sources, has started throwing hard punches on Uhuru’s critics as he prepares to inherit his political mantle
He has joined other Mount Kenya leaders in driving the BBI countrywide and was also among the leaders who censured Kuria and Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri for leading the voice of dissent against BBI in the region.
Kenneth has no time for the deputy president whom he accuses of rigging him out in the Jubilee Party primaries for Nairobi gubernatorial seat ahead of the 2017 elections.
He believes that Ruto rigged in embattled governor Mike Sonko as he did not want strong candidates who could challenge him for presidency in 2022.
The former Gatanga MP’s entry into Nairobi politics came days after he met the Mt Kenya Foundation officials and the Gema Cultural Association (GCA) at the Aberdares Country Club in Nyeri County where they resolved he go for the seat.
The two groupings singled out Kenneth as their possible consensus candidate in the Nairobi governor’s race in 2017, noting he had initiated programmes to fight runaway alcoholism among the youth in the Mt Kenya region and mobilising voter registration drives.