The jostling for the Kiambu deputy governor’s slot has begun in earnest days after impeached county boss Ferdinand Waititu lost his bid to block newly sworn-in governor James Nyoro from appointing a deputy.
Waititu suffered a major setback after High Court judge James Makau ruled that he did not establish a prima facie case to block Nyoro from nominating his deputy.
Political, religious and professional groups are now pushing Nyoro to appoint a deputy governor of their choice.
According to highly placed sources, the names that are being floated include former Kiambu woman representative Ann Nyokabi, ex-Kiambu woman rep aspirant Gladys Chania, Ekeza Sacco founder David Ngare alias Bishop Gakuyo, former Ruiru MP Esther Gathogo and Kiambu ODM branch secretary general Charles Mbugua
The lobbying for the position started days after Nyoro was sworn in as governor to become the county’s third governor after the impeached Waititu who had succeeded William Kabogo.
County assembly speaker Stephen Ndichu set the ball rolling when he proposed that a woman be appointed as Nyoro’s deputy but there is pressure from residents, professional groups and other leaders for competency to be the key determinant rather than gender.
Those fronting Nyokabi argue that being a relative to Uhuru Kenyatta gives her an edge over other aspirants.
They add that when she served as a woman representative, she initiated a number of projects like the construction of a community centre that housed a public library, gender violence centre and a recording studio. But her critics contend that Nyokabi is not a performer given her dismal performance as the woman rep.
They note that she was beaten in the Jubilee party primaries in 2017 by former radio presenter Gathoni Wamuchomba due to her aloofness and failure to initiate programmes to empower women.
She is also relied on the Kenyatta family name and hence would add little value to delivery of services in the county if picked as deputy governor.
For Gathogo, she is feigning lack of interest in the post though those close to her claim she is burning the midnight oil plotting how to emerge the favourite.
Gathogo, a former mayor is known for her support for small businesses but the office of the deputy governor is too big for her and she is also too old.
For Chania, a former woman rep aspirant in Kiambu, fraud allegations are hovering over her head like the sword of Damocles which taint her image.
Chania is said to have defrauded residents of Sh3 million with a promise she would link their alcoholic family members to a rehabilitation centre and facilitate their relocation to the United States for greener pastures using the name of a prominent Kenyan ambassador.
She was charged in court and released on a Sh50,000 cash bail.
The complainants include Eric Gathogo and Marin Kahunguro, who lost Sh200,000 and Sh251,000 respectively to Ms Chania with the hope of going to the US.
Another organisation called East African Sub-Saharan African Safe Promotion Foundation is also claiming Sh480,000 from the suspect after she reportedly promised that she was in a position to influence aid for them from the African Development Bank.
It is the same case with controversial televangelist, Bishop Gakuyo who was the subject of investigations by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations over claims that he siphoned over Sh1 billion at the troubled Ekeza Sacco.
Bishop Gakuyo is accused of conning more that 78,000 members of the savings and credit cooperative society.
An audit by the Commissioner of Co-operatives’ office linked Gakuyo to irregular withdrawals of more than Sh1 billion from the Ekeza Sacco, part of which he used to buy a house at the leafy Nyari estate and to finance his real estate firm.
Some of the money was withdrawn through cash using the Sacco’s vice chairman James Wanjuu and secretary-cum-CEO Gladys Muriithi “for activities of Gakuyo Real Estate and its directors” under the preacher’s instructions.
But it is the rumoured entry of CN Mbugua who has the support of professional groups that is likely to change the political matrix in the county.
Mbugua, who contested Gatundu South parliamentary seat on an ODM ticket in 2013 and 2017 general elections, is the opposition leader Raila Odinga’s pointman in the county.
He made his debut in politics in the first multiparty general election in 1992, when he contested the Kiganjo ward seat on Ford-Kenya then led by the doyen of opposition politics in Kenya, the late Jaramogi Odinga Oginga.
He won the seat on Ford-Kenya ticket to join Paul Muite, Gitobu Imanyara and Kiraitu Murungi who won the Kikuyu, Central Imenti and South Imenti parliamentary seats respectively. They were able to beat the Kenneth Matiba or Mwai Kibaki waves in Mount Kenya region to bag the seats on a party headed by Raila’s father, Jaramogi, a Luo.
Mbugua is a close ally of the ODM leader and accompanied him when he paid courtesy calls to veteran politicians Nginyo Kariuki and Wanguhu Ng’ang’a.
Those backing him are also citing his impressive curriculum vitae and work experience.
Mbugua, currently the president of the International Federation of Social Workers has also worked with United Nations, World Vision, National Christian Council of Kenya, Great Lakes Regional Initiative as well as serving in Somalia, Sudan and Chad.
Those backing him view him as the handshake candidate – in reference to the coming together of Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila – and also hails from lower Kiambu, Gatundu. The governor hails from Upper Kiambu, Ndeiya in Limuru constituency.
His backers argue that his nomination will cement the handshake in Kiambu given that he has been coordinating Raila’s activities and is now coordinating the Orange party’s Building Bridges Initiative forays in the region.
He has been the presidential agent of Raila in the past two general elections.
According to insiders, the president has instructed Nyoro to pick the best candidate regardless of his or her party’s affiliation. It will be interesting to see the aspirant the governor will pick.