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Nowhere to run: Kiambu's Ferdinand Waititu under siege

Monday July 29 2019
By KENNEDY KIMANTHI

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu is a man under siege.

The fiery and streetwise county boss, who has had an illustrious political career, is not sitting pretty following a series of incidents that have put his influence in doubt.

After hitting the headlines in recent times for all the wrong reasons, his arraignment on Monday alongside his wife Susan Wangari Ndung’u and eight others marked another twist in Kiambu County's coarse politics.

The case involves the irregular procurement of a Sh588 million tender for upgrading of various gravel roads to bitumen standard.

His star seems to be dimming as detectives keep dragging him to court to battle charges of abuse of office, money laundering, bribery, among others.

But, the stark reality that he is likely to be barred from office for the duration of his trial following last week’s ruling by Justice Mumbi Ngugi affecting county bosses charged with economic crimes is weighing heavily on him.

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STEP ASIDE

In the ruling, Justice Ngugi held that governors, just like other civil servants, should step aside once charged with criminal offences and their roles taken over by their deputies for the duration of the trial.

That effectively means that Mr Waititu’s deputy, Dr James Nyoro, with whom they have had a falling-out in the recent past, will be taking over the running of the county.

The governor has severally claimed that his misfortunes were being orchestrated by his political enemies led by Dr Nyoro.

Ironically, Dr Nyoro, a former presidential adviser on agriculture and food security, led the United for Kiambu team that campaigned for Mr Waititu.

The governor is not your ordinary politician, often viewed by many as someone who has little regard for social etiquette and the rule of law.

POLITICAL CAREER

Although he has not been convicted of any crimes, the arrests have continued to dent his political image even as his name features in national political discussions as a possible running mate of Deputy President William Ruto in the 2022 polls.

Popularly known as Baba Yao, he joined the National Assembly in the 10th Parliament in 2008 through a by-election via the Party of National Unity (PNU) following the death of Orange Democratic Movement’s (ODM) Mellitus Mugabe Were, the lawmaker for the then-expansive Embakasi Constituency.

Mr Waititu, who was born on January 1, 1962 in Kibera, rose through the political ranks from Njiru ward councillor in 2002, a deputy mayor with the defunct Nairobi City Council to MP and assistant minister before losing to Evans Kidero in the 2013 Nairobi gubernatorial elections.

Waititu was to vie for the Kabete parliamentary seat after the death of MP George Muchai.

SOURCE OF WEALTH

He won and served until 2017 when he ran for the Kiambu gubernatorial seat, beating incumbent William Kabogo.

His net worth has also been a subject of contention. Questions have persisted over the source of his millions, even though he says he can account for each and every coin.

It's only a matter of time before Kenyans know who between the investigating agencies and the governor will have the last laugh.

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