Devolution CS 'friends' expect smooth sailing in Laikipia

Saturday May 20 2017

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri addresses parents and students of Kiunjuri Boys High School in Nyeri during a thanksgiving day on February 4, 2017. He has denied accusations that he influenced the outcome of Jubilee primaries in central Kenya. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MWANGI NDIRANGU
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Close allies of Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri have positioned themselves in key positions in Laikipia County government with a conviction that Jubilee Party nominees will sweep most of the seats in the forthcoming General Election.

Though the Devolution CS has denied accusations that he influenced the outcome of Jubilee primaries in central Kenya, all indications are that he is strategising to have a firm grip on Laikipia County politics in the next five years by having close allies occupy influential seats at the county level.

IRUNGU'S RELIEF
Expectations are that Laikipia being a Jubilee stronghold, those who clinched the party’s ticket will have an easy ride come August.

Should this happen, the Senator, Deputy Governor and a number of County Assembly members would be individuals with undivided loyalty to Mr Kiunjuri.

Incumbent Governor Joshua Irungu, the Jubilee flag-bearer has admitted that he enjoys support from the CS.

Governor Irungu’s win in the recent primaries was contested by his main challenger Ndiritu Muriithi and he only got the ticket after a court ruled in his favour.

Upon receiving the party’s certificate, he picked Patrick Waigwa, 35, as his running mate.

GG KARIUKI DEFEATED

Mr Waigwa, an environmental scientist, was a parliamentary candidate in 2013 when he contested on Mr Kiunjuri’s Grand Nation Union (GNU) party for Laikipia East seat but lost.

Since then, Mr Waigwa has maintained a close association with the former Laikipia East MP.

The Senate candidate John Kinyua also contested on GNU ticket in the last General Election but lost to veteran politician G.G Kariuki.

This time, he emerged the winner during the primaries, garnering 42,155 votes against G.G Kariuki’s 6,500.

Three MCA’s who contested on GNU parry ticket will now be flying the Jubilee flag.

REVOLT

They include Mrs Veronica Ikunyua of Nanyuki Ward, Mr Daniel Mugweru of Umande and Joseph Maina from Igwamiti Ward.

It is also expected that being the most influential politician in the county, Mr Kiunjuri’s hand will be felt when it comes to nomination of Members of County Assembly.

But there are those forecasting a different scenario from that of 2013 where all those who vied on TNA, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s party of choice, won the seats easily.

A revolt against what is being seen as manipulation of the county politics is brewing.

Accusing fingers are pointing at Mr Kiunjuri and whether this revolt lasts for the next two months is a matter of conjecture.

“I can confidently tell you that this time, voters are bitter and expect to see a different political scene after August.

"Those who think they will win because they enjoy support of Mr Kiunjuri and have Jubilee tickets will get the shock of their lives,” Mr Stephen Gichora, a former Deputy Mayor of the Nanyuki Municipal Council, says.

RIGGED OUT
Mr Gichora says it was an open secret that the Devolution CS sponsored some candidates during the Jubilee primaries with his eyes set on the 2022 gubernatorial race, which he is expected to vie and succeed Mr Irungu, who will have served his second term should he win in August.

“We have information that some slots have been reserved for CS’s close allies to take positions as nominated MCA’s and as CECs.

"Some of us are bitter with the court ruling that declared Governor Irungu the winner and we have formed a movement called Laikipia voters versus High Court.

"We will elect popular candidates who were rigged out during the primaries and are now contesting as independents,” the former civic leader says.

Mr Gichora’s sentiments are shared by Mr Stephen Wangai, a newspaper vendor, who argues that the tide is now changing and a rebellion is brewing where voters intend to kick out those deemed to have won as a result of their closeness with Mr Kiunjuri.

INDEPENDENT CANDIDATES
However, local political analyst Jacob Muthaura argues the so-called rebellion against Jubilee Party and Mr Kiunjuri was a passing cloud that would fizzle out in coming weeks.

He predicts that those vying as independents to protest against the outcome of primaries will all be floored on August 8.

“Laikipia is a Jubilee stronghold and the attention will soon shift from individual candidates to the fight between Jubilee and National Super Alliance (Nasa).

"Independent candidates will be deemed to be working against the interest of Jubilee and its leader Uhuru Kenyatta,” Mr Muthaura opines.

He says Mr Kiunjuri's interference with the primaries, whether it is true or mere propaganda being spewed by Jubilee Party ticket losers, will cease being a factor as August approaches and presidential campaigns gain momentum.