The President’s son, Mr Jimmy Kibaki, and political activist Mary Wambui have rolled up their sleeves for an epic political battle over who should succeed President Mwai Kibaki as Othaya MP.
Although Jimmy is not going for the seat, he and his sister Judy are supporting Mr Gichuki Mugambi, while Ms Wambui, who has long campaigned for the President in Othaya, is digging in for the same seat.
Last weekend, the younger Kibaki placed himself on a collision course with Ms Wambui when he went public that the President had endorsed Mr Mugambi to succeed him in Othaya.
Mr Mugambi is the chairman of the Othaya Development Association, a caucus of professionals and business people based in Nairobi.
“The President told me not to go to church today but to come here and campaign for Mr Mugambi,” he told a series of rallies in Iriaini location on December 23.
Jimmy also said his father had told TNA leader Uhuru Kenyatta that his choice of successor was Mr Mugambi.
But Ms Wambui, who was campaigning in Karima location, reacted swiftly to the claims, saying that President Kibaki had not endorsed anyone for the seat. She emphasised that Othaya people should be allowed to choose their leaders.
She accused Jimmy and his group of using public resources to campaign.
This altercation pits two influential personalities with close links to the State House, and observers should be prepared for a good show.
Things could turn more dramatic as the nominations for the TNA approach as both Ms Wambui and Mr Mugambi will be fighting for a place on the party’s ticket.
The other aspirant seeking to succeed President Kibaki is Mr Gichuki King’ara who is running on the Grand National Union party.
Will the feisty political strategist embarrass the First Family by defeating its candidate? What move will the TNA nominations loser make?
Ms Wambui has vast political experience having worked in Nyeri Kanu branch office for many years. She is reputed to be a good political strategist with a close-knit network of operatives not only in Othaya but in the entire Nyeri County.
Since 1992, she has been co-ordinating President Kibaki’s political activities in the constituency and Nyeri as he reached out to other parts of the country.
The activist has not hesitated to remind local voters of the instrumental role she has been playing in the re-election of President Kibaki since 1974, but she points out that she is nobody’s project.
But the First Family has sent out a tacit reminder that it is in favour of Mr Mugambi, not her. This came early in November when Judy Kibaki attended a closed-door meeting of influential business people from Othaya that endorsed him.
Jimmy, who had earlier shown an interest in succeeding his father, now seems eager to fight Ms Wambui behind Mr Mugambi.
The flamboyant political activist has been the main headache for Mr Mugambi’s campaign team made up of wealthy area businessmen.. But Ms Wambui will definitely not be a pushover.
Again, Mr Mugambi, together with an aspirant for the Nyeri gubernatorial seat, Mr Wachira Maina, have found themselves rejecting the label of “projects” of a wealthy clique.
With Parliament having given more time for party nomination losers to defect to other parties, Mr Mugambi and Ms Wambui could most probably still meet at the polls irrespective of the TNA outcome if the President assents to the Bill.
If that happens, the decision as to who succeeds the President will be determined on March 4 next year.