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Gloves are off as former political allies turn foes

Sunday June 16 2019

jubilee party

Nairobi leaders Johnson Sakaja (left, senator) and Mike Sonko (governor) react during church service at St Stephen ACK in Nairobi on April 29, 2018. Mr Sakaja is questioning the governor's method of leadership. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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With a new wave of realignments sweeping across the country ahead of the next General Election, an increasing number of politicians elected on the same ticket or alliances have turned into bitter rivals.

They are either cases of governors feuding with their deputies keen to succeed them or senators feeling short-changed in the award of tenders among other disagreements.

The falling-out among hitherto political allies in different parts of the country has heightened the political temperatures before even the mid-term.

Below are 10 conspicuous examples.

1. Meru: Governor Kiraitu Murungi vs Senator Mithika Linturi

Mr Murungi and Mr Linturi campaigned on the so-called Kikali alliance outfit, an acronym for Kiraitu, Kajuju and Linturi, though Ms Florence Kajuju was sidelined before the elections.


The honeymoon however ended when Mr Linturi in April addressed the Meru County Assembly and took a swipe at the county executive over the auditor general’s report.

“The auditor’s report paints a gloomy picture of the state of our county. It raises valid concerns and supports the weighty allegations with evidence,” the senator said.

Mr Murungi has since accused Mr Linturi of using the audit report to gain political mileage with the aim of unseating him in 2022.

Their rivalry took a new twist three weeks ago when Mr Linturi held hands with Trade and Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya and announced plans to work together ahead of 2022. Mr Murungi defeated Mr Munya, the incumbent in the last elections.

2. Tharaka-Nithi: Governor Muthomi Njuki and Senator Kithure Kindiki

Prof Kindiki and Mr Njuki campaigned as a team alongside Woman Representative Beatrice Nkatha and MPs Kareke Mbiuki and Patrick Munene in 2017.

Cracks in the Kindiki-Njuki partnership started emerging early last year after the Senator faulted Mr Njuki for sacking workers employed by his predecessor under the guise that they were ghost workers.

The push for a rotational governorship to cover all major parts of the county and specifically that the next county chief should come from Tharaka constituency, Prof Kindiki’s backyard, has served to further escalate the differences.

During the Uragate Tharaka Cultural Festival in August last year, Mr Njuki left the meeting in a huff immediately Prof Kindiki arrived.

3. Nairobi: Governor Mike Sonko vs Senator Johnson Sakaja

They are some of the youngest elected leaders in the country. They were elected on a Jubilee Party ticket after Mr Sakaja, who initially wanted to replace former Governor Evans Kidero, changed his mind.

All has been well, but there are increasing signs that the senator is eyeing Mr Sonko’s job.

Mr Sonko made this known when he was summoned by the Senate on the question of running the capital without a deputy after Mr Polycarp Igathe resigned.

4. Kirinyaga: Governor Anne Waiguru and Woman Representative Wangui Ngirici

Ms Wangui Ngirici and Governor Anne Waiguru were allies prior to the nominations, with the woman representative rallying behind the governor when she declared interest in the seat.

The two, who briefly reconciled to campaign for President Uhuru Kenyatta during the repeat election, are said to have fallen out over a power-sharing deal ahead of the elections.

Since then, the two leaders have been engaged in a war of words with Governor Waiguru accusing Ms Ngirici of staging her heckling during a meeting attended by Deputy President William Ruto in April last year.

Ms Ngirici has faulted the county government’s performance, the latest being the bad state of affairs at the Kerugoya Referral Hospital, while Ms Waiguru has accused her political opponents of sponsoring the ongoing health workers strike.

It is a battle of two iron ladies and Ms Ngirici, believed to be one of the richest politicians from the county, is promising to either challenge the governor in the next polls or sponsor someone to unseat her.

5. Kiambu: Governor Ferdinand Waititu and his Deputy James Nyoro

Betrayal, alleged bad leadership, graft and 2022 game plans have led to the falling-out of Mr Waititu and Mr Nyoro; that has since degenerated into full-scale political combat with the two leaders hurling insults at each other.

It started with Mr Waititu’s trashing of a pre-election memorandum of understanding between him, his deputy and preacher David Ngare, popularly known as Gakuyo.

Mr Waititu is accused of refusing to respect the MoU that they also signed with Mr James Mugwe and Ms Aquiline Njoki, which saw the latter four drop their gubernatorial bid in his favour under the banner “United for Kiambu”.

According to the deal, Mr Waititu was to become the governor, Mr Nyoro his deputy, Mr Ngare the county lands minister, Mr Mugwe the roads minister while Ms Njoki was to be the county legal adviser.

Further, the 10 ministerial dockets were to be shared out among them. Most of them missed out on the posts.

6. Kisumu: Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o and Senator Fred Outa

Their feud is no different from that in Kiambu. Mr Outa accuses Prof Nyong’o of going back on an arrangement that would have seen them share Cabinet slots.

“If I did not have the interests of county residents at heart, I would have supported Ranguma as we hail from the same place. But because I want the best for our people, I knew Nyong’o would make the best county CEO. That’s why we formed Team Kali (a tough team),” the senator once said.

He has since changed tune and is understood to be eying Prof Nyong’o’s seat. “Every week he is overseas. He is rarely in the county,” Mr Outa said of the governor last week.

7. Garissa: Garissa Township MP Aden Duale vs Governor Ali Korane

Despite being members of the Abduwak clan who campaigned together in 2017 under Jubilee party, there is no love lost between the two political titans.

They were brought together by the tolomoge alliance with the Samawathal clan to ride to power, dislodging Governor Nathif Jama from the Aulihan clan.

Today, the governor accuses Mr Duale of interfering with the running of the county while the latter vows to ensure that Mr Korane is vanquished in the next elections.

“The result will be more disastrous. Prepare for the long haul Mr Governor,” Mr Duale is on record warning.

Mr Duale once beat Mr Korane in the Dujis parliamentary elections.

The differences are however proving to be a blessing for Mr Jama, who is preparing to take another stab at the gubernatorial seat.

8. Elgeyo-Marakwet: Governor Alex Tolgos vs Senator Kipchumba Murkomen

From the use of devolved resources to superiority contests, Mr Tolgos and Mr Murkomen do not read from the same script yet they were thought to be one of the closest pair in the 47 counties.

Governor Tolgos charges that he taught the lawmaker politics and thus he has no right to offer him a lecture on the same.

And at the height of investigations into suspected loss of billions in Arror and Kimwarer dams and the attendant political heat, Governor Tolgos on behalf of the politicians apologised to President Uhuru Kenyatta over accusations that the probe was meant to undermine the region’s political leadership, a gesture others including the senator construed as betrayal to the community.

Feeling isolated, the governor is these days is seen as gravitating towards Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, a man caught in a bitter supremacy tussle with Deputy President Ruto in the Rift Valley politics.

9. Bungoma: Governor Wycliffe Wangamati and Senator Moses Wetang’ula

Elected on a Ford Kenya party ticket and with the senator as the party leader, the chemistry between the two was perfect in the run-up to the last elections, or so it seemed.

But today, fuelled by speculation that Mr Wetang’ula may go for the gubernatorial seat, the relationship between has been growing colder by the day.

They rarely attend the same public events in the county.

10. Nandi: Governor Stephen Sang and Senator Samson Cherargei

Members of the ruling Jubilee Party, Mr Sang and Mr Cherargei were once close, but not any more, with reports that the senator is keen on the former’s seat.

Recently, Senator Cherargei has rejected a plea by DP Ruto to reconcile them.

Mr Cherargei says he respects the DP but will not back down on his push for proper management of county resources for the people of Nandi.

Additional reporting by David Muchui and Eric Wainaina