The emerging Tunai factor in Maasai politics (Ruto’s Man)

The emerging Tunai factor in Maasai politics (Ruto’s Man)

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The defection of former Kajiado governor  David Nkedianye from ODM to Jubilee has now seen Jubilee stamp its authority on the political landscape in Kajiado county. But what political analysts are now reading between the defection lines, is the two faces that brokered the move. They are Governor Samuel Tunai, Narok and his Kajiado counterpart Joseph Ole Lenku.

Governor Samuel Tunai is emerging as a key player in Maasai politics and is close to deputy president William Ruto. A billionaire, Tunai apart from being Uhuru Kenyatta’s pointman in the region, is also to be relied on to deliver to community to Ruto in 2022.

The question now is that will Tunai emerge as the successor of the late Maasai kingpin William Ole Ntimama? It is instructive to note that after the demise of Ntimama, several names were flouted as possible successors to Ntimama who was recognised as the spokesman of the entire Maa community.

Kajiado elders also say that prior to his demise, Ntimama had “pointed” out one or two people who would take over his mantle. Those named include late Interior CS Joseph ole Nkaissery of the Iseuri ageset; NCIC chair Francis Kaparo and Nkedianye. Others were Stephen Ntutu, former KMC chairman Tarayia ole Kores and Kajiado South MP Katoo ole Metito.

Analysts say picking Ntimama’s successor was an uphill task. Before his demise Nkaissery was seen as the automatic successor to Ntimama. Those who pushed for his confirmation as Maasai spokesman claim that he was the third powerful person in Kenya after Uhuru and Ruto.

They further claimed that he had wealth, the leadership qualities and the command of the Maasai region, especially after he recently recruited 63 assistant county commissioners from the community out of the 784 on the national grid.

However, those opposed to him claimed that he could not fit in Ntimama’s shoes because his stance on issues affecting the community was overridden by his loyalty to the president. “He had one shortcoming, and unlike Ntimama who stood firm on issues touching on the community, Nkaissery would be playing politics to save his job and for the interest of serving his family,” said a Maasai elder from Narok.

As regards the mention of Kaparos, Kamwaros and Ntutus, it has been claimed that although they are respectful elders, they are not ripe for the position. It is said Kores would have fitted the bill but his age cannot allow him.

Katoo ole Metito’s name and that of Tunai are now being touted as the best bets. Tunai being the governor of Kajiado,  has what it takes and said to be wielding enormous  power  that has  earned respect among the majority of Maasai leaders.

Maasai professionals chairman Joseph ole Sonkori says the position of a Maasai leader requires somebody who can make hard decisions. He believes Nkaissery was the best person to replace Ntimama because he was older and because of his military background. However, gone is the man of the disciplined forces!

During the last general elections, Jubilee swept all the three county seats as well as four out of five parliamentary seats.

Sources say that the defectors have been promised plum government positions with others said to have even been paid millions of shillings as campaign money. Initially, Nkedianye had conceded defeat but pressure from Nasa leader Raila Odinga forced him to file a petition challenge Lenku’s victory. Lenku was declared the winner after he garnered 174,697 votes  against Nkedianye’s 146,652. He is set to be appointed as chairman of a parastatal. Others say that he was given Sh20million to calm dowm.

In his petition, he claimed that Kajiado was among counties with “computer-generated” leaders, claiming that that he has damaging exhibits against IEBC on the manipulation of election results from 60 polling stations in favour of Ole Lenku.

In fact, results for 64 out of 797 polling stations with a total of 32,889 registered voters allegedly were not entered into the system for the election of the governor, but interestingly, they were able to get the final result.

Last week, after being received by Ruto, Nkedianye assured the DP that he will withdraw the petition against Lenku and vowed to support him to deliver on the pledges he gave during the campaigns.

Sources say that the DP and Jubilee have always considered Nkedianye as an interloper in the seat they believed belonged to them. Nkedianye got an easy pass to the governor’s mansion, in 2013, after the hot favourite, Taraiya ole Kores was barred from contesting, at the last minute, by the court, for not having the requisite academic papers.

Ironically, Ole Kores was supporting Nkedianye in the 2017 elections after he lost to Ole Lenku during the JP nominations. Kores is back in Jubilee.

It is now being whispered that Nkedianye has been promised a state job either a diplomatic posting as ambassador or as chairman of a board member. There have also been whispers that he has been rewarded to the tune of millions of shillings for abandoning Raila and Nasa. The move has now seen the county turn from an opposition stronghold in 2013 to Jubilee zone after the 2017 elections.

For the woman rep seat, Janet Teiyaa, a person living with disability, replaced Mary Seneta after she got 186,085 beating her closest challenger, Esther Somoire of ODM, who got 104,486. Newcomer Philip Mpaayei shook off a spirited onslaught from ODM’s Daniel Tinaai, to succeed Peter Mositet as Kajiado’s second senator.

Out of the five parliamentary seats, JP got four against ODM’s one. They are Joseph Manje of Kajiado North, Peris Tobiko of Kajiado East, George Sunkuyia of Kajiado West and Katoo ole Metito of Kajiado South. Elijah Memusi is the only exception retaining his Kajiado Central seat on an ODM ticket.

Jubilee’s defection to Jubilee has not been received well by section of his supporters and nasa leadership.  Last week, Nasa leader Raila claimed Jubilee is spending taxpayers money to buy Nasa leaders.

Nkedianye defected to Jubilee alongside scores of the county’s leaders. The former governor said it had been a tough decision to make in shifting from Nasa to Jubilee, but expressed satisfaction as the community had been consulted and agreed with it. Nkedianye’s defection is a culmination of talks engineered by Governor Ole Lenku and Tunai and brokered by the DP.

Last week, a group of opposition leaders led by the ODM county chairman Daniel Osoi crossed over to Jubilee dealing a major blow to the opposition in the county. Among the Nasa bigwigs who changed sides was the ODM’s Kajiado East Parliamentary seat loser Kakuta Maimai.

Elijah Naini, a former critic of governor Lenku’s administration, has also swallowed a humble pie and is teaming up with the incumbent. The politician, who stood by Nkedianye spreading propaganda that Lenku will never be governor, has now found a new nest in Lenku’s side. He joins the list of former ODMs namely Osoi, Daniel Tenaai, Esther Somoire who defected to Jubilee.

Maimai on defection accused Nasa of nepotism and favouritism. He has vowed to campaign for the re-election of Uhuru on October 26.

Maimai claimed he has been supporting Raila in his entire political life but it has now dawned in him that he has been supporting a person and not ODM family. He contested for a parliamentary seat in Kajiado East and lost to Peris Tobiko.

With Nkedianye joining Jubilee, it is now a wait and see situation if he will again run against Lenku in 2022 or he will be comfortable with the yet to be secured government job.

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