Politicians from central Kenya are locked in a vicious war over top state jobs with Nyeri leaders pushing to have one of their own as a Cabinet secretary in the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta after he takes the oath of office on Tuesday.
The fight escalated on Sunday as 15 MPs from the region criticised Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina for allegedly calling for the sacking of Devolution CS Mwangi Kiunjuri.
It is understood that politicians from the county want former Nyeri Senator Mutahi Kagwe appointed to the Cabinet at the expense of Mr Kiunjuri, who is from neighbouring Laikipia.
Led by Patrick Kariuki (Laikipia West), the MPs accused Mr Maina of playing divisive politics in a region that voted for President Kenyatta to a man in the August 8 General Election and the fresh presidential poll of October 26.
“Mr Maina has been on the warpath with almost everyone from Mount Kenya region,” said Mr Kariuki. “He should know that the contribution of Mr Kiunjuri in the recent election of President Kenyatta is huge. Let him tell us what he did not only in Nyeri but the entire region.”
Mr Maina said he was misquoted but did not hide the fact that Mr Kiunjuri campaigned against him in August.
“I was quoted in a subject that I was never involved in,” said Mr Maina in response to the criticism. “It is not my prerogative to tell the President whom to appoint; that is his job.
“Kiunjuri came to Nyeri and went as far as campaigning for a rival party’s candidate. I complained to Jubilee headquarters. It was wrong for him to do that against the President’s directive.”
In the run-up to the August elections, President Kenyatta had warned Jubilee Party members against campaigning for rival candidates, including independent ones who were supporting his presidential bid.
In Laikipia, leaders defended Mr Kiunjuri over what they termed as a smear campaign by a section of Mt Kenya politicians to alienate him from the Head of State.
Laikipia Senator John Kinyua, Laikipia North MP Sarah Korere, Laikipia County Assembly Speaker Patrick Waigwa and all the 24 MCAs said they were fully behind the CS.
The leaders were responding to accusations published in a section of the media on Saturday quoting the Nyeri senator as saying Mt Kenya leaders, including those from Laikipia, did not have confidence in the leadership of Mr Kiunjuri.
“I am speaking on behalf of Mt Kenya political leadership and I am sure the people of Laikipia share the same concern,” Senator Maina was quoted as saying. “We no longer trust and have lost confidence in CS Kiunjuri.”
It is understood that Nyeri leaders have been complaining that the region has been neglected since former Transport and Infrastructure CS Michael Kamau, who is from the county, was dropped from the Cabinet after he was accused of abuse of office in March 2015.
The court cleared Mr Kamau early this year but he is yet to be recalled.
Since Mr Kamau’s forced resignation, the county, which has backed President Kenyatta unequivocally since the 2013 elections, is the only one in Mt Kenya not represented in the Cabinet.
The person who succeeded him at the ministry, Mr James Macharia, is from Gachanjiru village in Murang’a.
Mr Kiunjuri, a former MP, has roots in both Nyeri and Murang’a.
Public Service CS Sicily Kariuki is from Embu, Mr Joe Mucheru of ICT from Kirinyaga, Prof Joseph Kaimenyi (Lands) from Meru while Attorney-General Githu Muigai, who is not a CS but sits in the Cabinet, is from the President’s county, Kiambu.
Meanwhile, in Nakuru, leaders have intensified lobbying for state jobs as youth and election losers angle for the posts.
Despite the county voting overwhelmingly for President Kenyatta and his predecessor Mwai Kibaki, analysts say the county has a dubious record of not producing a CS.
It is this reason that is informing a section of leaders as they seek lucrative state jobs during President Kenyatta’s final term.
Additional reporting by Eric Matara