If there is an MP in Nakuru who has given President Uhuru Kenyatta a headache in the last one year, then Bahati’s Onesmus Kimani Ngunjiri fits the bill.
And as the political atmosphere in the Jubilee stronghold turns toxic, the firebrand politician, popularly known as OKN, has been exchanging political blows in public with the President.
For long, he had been regarded as one of Mr Kenyatta’s foot soldiers, who would go to any length to defend the current leadership.
But his increasing bare-knuckle attack on the President and his appetite for stinging criticism of the Jubilee administration has for the first time prompted Mr Kenyatta to rebuke his former ally.
Mr Ngunjiri is now an ally of Deputy President William Ruto and a member of the Tangatanga group.
And as the political marriage between the two principals gets rocky, Mr Ngunjiri has constantly reminded the President that he will leave a bad legacy and the country split if he does not endorse Dr Ruto as his successor.
The 67-year-old, serving his second term, has in recent times surprised many by launching scathing attacks on Mr Kenyatta and leading a delegation of Kikuyu elders to the DP’s Sugoi home.
Unlike other lawmakers allied to Dr Ruto in Nakuru who criticise the President behind the curtains, Mr Ngunjiri is bold, courageous and will not hesitate to respond to attacks by Mr Kenyatta.
Hardly a day after the President broke his silence and told the outspoken lawmaker to keep off his line and mind his own business, Mr Ngunjiri was not remorseful. He said he would not be intimidated.
“The President said I should let him do his job while I concentrate on my duties. I would like to remind him respectfully that I am mandated to represent the voice of the people and oversee the Executive,” he said.
“I have been faithfully executing my mandate and the President should accept the fact that in spite of him being the Jubilee Party leader, I don’t have to agree with his views all the time.”
“Why should the President come to my area not to launch projects such as roads but claim I have been abusing him? He was not specific on the insults. The President played bad politics and was looking for a scapegoat to save face, as he has not fulfilled the promise that his government will construct four dams in the area.”
He has vowed to do anything to ensure Dr Ruto succeeds President Kenyatta in 2022.
While leading the delegation of the Kikuyu elders from the 14 counties in Rift Valley, Mr Ngunjiri said the community would be branded political liars if it fails to support Dr Ruto.
“We live with other tribes in the Rift Valley. One person should not come between the President and the DP and cause confusion,” Mr Ngunjiri said.
TIRED? GO HOME
Last year, without blinking, he told Mr Kenyatta that if he was tired of leading the country he should call for elections.
“If Mr Kenyatta is tired of leading this country he should immediately call for fresh elections so that we can end this political rumour-mongering,” Mr Ngunjiri said.
But he added: “If the President has joined the Orange Democratic Movement, please let him defect and go to Raila Odinga’s party.”
Mr Odinga and the President have been working together “for national unity and development” since their surprising handshake on March 9, 2018.
Mr Ngunjiri has been defending Dr Ruto against the corruption claims levelled against him.
The lawmaker says he fully supports the DP, not because of his tribe but because he has the qualities of a good leader.
“It is President Kenyatta who started the 2022 succession talks during the last elections when he urged Jubilee supporters to back him for 10 years and then support Ruto for the next 10 years,” he said
He recently recorded a statement at the Nakuru Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) offices after claiming that Dr Ruto was kicked out of a government house in Mombasa.
IN THE LINE OF FIRE
And there was more trouble for Mr Ngunjiri when he was ordered to surrender his firearm to the regional police headquarters.
The Bahati MP immediately linked his latest woes to his “undying” support for the DP to succeeded President Kenyatta.
“The time has come to fight those who were there and those who were not there for them to be audited,” Mr Ngunjiri said.
To his critics, the MP is a mere gadfly that always attacks, annoys or critiques others to be seen to be on top of things and gain popularity.
Given his reputation, many politicians in Nakuru County would not dare take him head-on, as they know he spoils for a fight.
His occupation before he became a lawmaker constantly put him in the line of fire.
He was a co-founder of Twin Auctioneers in Nakuru, and his violent approach to things was evident when on one occasion he clamped a Mercedes Benz car belonging to Uasin Gishu-based tycoon Jackson Kibor outside the Kanu office.
Former Eldama Ravine MP Musa Sirma has also tasted his wrath — Mr Ngunjiri attacked him.
The bulk of his utterances in the past one year on popular morning media shows centre on attacking the Jubilee administration and President Kenyatta.
At one stage, he led a handful of demonstrators in Nakuru Town to protest the dismissive word washenzi (fools) that President Kenyatta had used against those claiming Mt Kenya has not benefited from mega projects like the rest of Kenya.
Mr Ngunjiri donned a white T-shirt inscribed: “Mimi ni mshenzi, je wewe mwana Kenya (I am a fool, how about you, fellow Kenyan)?”
But Mr Ngunjiri has had bitter disagreements with almost all present and past leaders in Nakuru County, including Governor Lee Kinyanjui, the new Kenyatta point man in the region.
He has also clashed with former MPs Nelson Gaichuhie (Subukia) and Joseph Kiuna (Njoro), as well as incumbent MPs David Gikaria (Nakuru Town East) and Samuel Gachobe (Subukia).
Mr Ngunjiri has reached a truce with his political foe Senator Susan Kihika, with whom he couldn’t see eye to eye in the past.
They are now reading from the same script as they are allies of Mr Ruto.