As the 2022 succession politics continue to gather momentum in the country, new alignments from politicians who have been in different camps of Jubilee Party are beginning to sprout.
Bahati MP Onesmus Kimani Ngunjiri and Nakuru Senator Susan Wakarura Kihika, who earlier read from different scripts, have suddenly forged a close relationship.
There is more to their new dalliance than merely getting their political acts right. Despite their earlier differences, the two have come together to support Deputy President William Ruto's 2022 presidential ambitions. The duo has defended the DP in the region like lawyers to their client in court.
What seems to make their friendship tick, besides their push for Dr Ruto’s presidential ambition, is the bitterness about President Uhuru Kenyatta’s new found unity with Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga. Seeing the two politicians attack the President and Jubilee leadership has baffled many in the region. Earlier, their political relationship was one of the frostiest.
No politician in Nakuru County has dared to criticise the President since 2013. The two have so many thing in common.
First, their abrasive style of politics has won them friends and foes in equal measure. Their new brand of politics has triggered anger among the president’s allies in the region.
They both come from Bahati Constituency and at one time contested the seat with Mr Ngunjiri emerging the winner.
Today, they are regarded as Nakuru’s most influential politicians allied to the deputy president.
Interestingly, before they moved to Dr Ruto’s camp, they appeared close to the President.
In 2016, President Kenyatta and Dr Ruto appointed Ms Kihika to lead a Rift Valley presidential campaign team in Nakuru ahead of 2017 General Election.
Mr Ngunjiri did not welcome the appointment of Ms Kihika who was then the Nakuru County Assembly Speaker to deliver votes for the party. Mr Ngunjiri’s abrasive politics has put him on collision path with his supporters.
Last year, while donning a white T-shirt with the inscriptions “mimi ni mshenzi, je wewe mwanakenya? (I am a fool, how about you fellow Kenyan?), he led demonstrations in Nakuru Town, as he criticised President Kenyatta’s slur “washenzi”, in which the Head of State dismissed politicians who claimed that he had ignored Mt Kenya region.
“Some people may think I hate President Kenyatta. Nothing can be far from the truth. What I am doing is for the common good of people of Rift Valley and more so my Kikuyu community. The Kalenjin nation supported Mr Kenyatta in 2002, 2013, 2017, and it is now payback time,” said Mr Ngunjiri then.
During an impromptu tour of Nakuru in January, President Kenyatta was forced to respond to Mr Ngunjiri's persistent attacks.
“Your MP has been abusing me. Did you send him to Parliament to hurl abuses at me? He should let me to do my job while he concentrates on his duties,” said Mr Kenyatta.
In response to the President’s remarks, Mr Ngunjiri said: “... I don’t have to agree with his views all the time.”
He reminded the President of unfulfilled promises made during the last two elections. The Head of State had promised that the government would tarmac Maili-Sita Kabatini and Mawanga- Murunyu road.
Mr Ngunjiri recently led a delegation of Kikuyu politicians and businessmen from Rift Valley’s 14 counties to Dr Ruto’s home in Sugoi in Uasin Gishu County.
“After our visit, we returned home much more united than before,” said Mr Ngunjiri.
This recent visit to Sugoi has seen him skip a Kikuyu elders’ meeting at President Kenyatta’s Gicheha farm in Rongai, Nakuru County.
Mr Ngunjiri said: “I can’t be a sycophant; I have my own brain; I have my own stand. I want to see the best possible deal in the country. President Kenyatta told us when he retires, he will pass the baton to Dr Ruto, and that is where my bone of contention with the Head of State comes in,” said the legislator.
Ms Kihika, a US-trained lawyer, is known for speaking her mind. Her dare-devil approach may have been shaped by her father’s combative style of politics. She ruled Nakuru County Assembly with an iron fist.
As a senator in 2018, she proposed stiffer penalties for those who impregnate schoolgirls, such as castrating and stoning them to death.
“If you’re a teacher who is responsible for the children and you impregnate them, you are worse than the devil. I mean that to all “women eaters.” They should be stoned or probably castrated. That might be the softest punishment for them. No right thinking man can impregnate a 10-year-old girl unless they are crazy. They should be six feet under or in jail at a minimum,” she added.
On her ouster as Senate majority chief whip, she turned philosophical on social media.
Quoting an inspirational writer Israelmore Ayivor she said: “Leaders gather scattered people with the positive influence of intimacy of while misleaders scatter gathered people with negative influence of intimidation.”
While she is keen to blame the Speaker of the Senate Kenneth Lusaka for disregarding the Standing Orders, it is like history is repeating itself since she also did the same when she was Nakuru County Assembly Speaker.
“Those who kill by the sword die by the sword. It is very interesting to see what is happening today to Ms Kihika. She employed the same kind of machinations during her tenure as Speaker of the Nakuru County Assembly. Laws and Standing Orders did not mean anything to her,” said Dr Waithanji Mutiti former chairperson of Nakuru Public Service Board who was severally summoned during Ms Kihika reign as Speaker.
As succession politics gathers momentum the two politicians will play a key role in Nakuru.