Former Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution boss Charles Nyachae has emerged the frontrunner in the race to succeed Mr Ekwee Ethuro as the Speaker of the Senate in the 12th Parliament that convenes next week.
Details of Mr Nyachae’s candidature have come out even as lobbying for the leadership positions in Parliament started in earnest just three days after the announcement of results of the presidential election, which was won by Mr Uhuru Kenyatta.
Among the positions available in the two Houses — the Senate and the National Assembly — are those of the speakers and their deputies; leaders of majority and their deputies; leaders of minority and their deputies; majority whips and their deputies; and minority whips and their deputies.
A source within the Jubilee Party told the Nation that Mr Nyachae had been picked as the man to replace Mr Ethuro, who has run out of favour with both President Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and a cabal of hardliners within the political outfit.
Outgoing Leader of Majority Kithure Kindiki confirmed there is growing interest in the positions, adding that the Jubilee Party will meet next week to decide on who will occupy which position.
“Yes, there is huge interest, but there is nothing substantive on the table on the so-called front-runner for whatever position,” he said.
The meeting of all elected Jubilee MPs will be held on Monday. Apart from providing the party with an opportunity to decide on who will contest, the event will offer the President and his deputy a chance to meet his parliamentary group.
Mr Ethuro’s head has been placed on the chopping block as it is alleged that Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto are unhappy with the way he steered business in the so-called upper chamber.
The source, who did not want to be mentioned, said the displeasure with the former Turkana Central MP is because he is deemed to have sacrificed the interests of the Jubilee Party at the altar of his own image, which undermined the outfit’s performance in the Senate.
Mr Ethuro is accused of ambivalence and not being as vociferous in pushing for the Jubilee agenda as his counterpart in the National Assembly.
ELECTIONS ACT 2016
The displeasure with Mr Ethuro’s handling of issues reached a crescendo early this year, during the debate on amendments to the Elections Act, 2016.
According to the source, the outgoing Speaker did not just go against the grain by giving leverage to the opposition, but even kicked out of the precincts of Parliament anti-riot police officers the State had deployed to maintain order around the area.
Mr Ethuro is being considered for a diplomatic posting to pave the way for Mr Nyachae, whose candidature serves two purposes, according to the source.
First, the move is aimed at rewarding the established loyalty that started with his father, Simeon. Second, the party wants to reward the Abagusii for giving Mr Kenyatta a significant number of votes that changed the tide of the recently concluded General Election.
Through his elevation, the Jubilee Party hopes to placate the Kisii community for the 2022 succession.
Mr Nyachae has been picked from a congested race that includes former Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba, outgoing Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka, former Ainabkoi MP Samuel Chepkong’a and former Nominated MP Amina Abdalla. All of them have either been linked or shown interest in the seat.
While it is not clear what will happen to the others, Mr Lusaka has been assured of a Cabinet slot mainly because he is considered to have worked hard to ensure the President got significant numbers in Bungoma County in the presidential race.
Nakuru Senator-elect Susan Kihika is being groomed to become the Deputy Speaker, to take over from Mr Kembi Gitura, who lost in the General Election.
Ms Kihika will face off with Murang’a Senator-elect Irungu Kang’ata, who defeated Mr Gitura in the polls and has gone ahead to express interest in the seat.
“I’m lobbying to be the Deputy Speaker because it belonged to the Murang’a people. I am demanding it back. I am a lawyer qualified just like outgoing Senator Kembi Gitura,” said Mr Kang’ata.
LEADER OF MAJORITY
While Tharaka-Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki is assured of remaining as the Leader of Majority, his deputy Kipchumba Murkomen is angling for the Majority Whip post left vacant after the exit of Ms Beatrice Elachi. Ms Elachi contested the Dagoretti North seat but lost to ODM’s Samuel Arati.
Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula is set to reclaim the Leader of Minority position, with Siaya Senator James Orengo as his deputy.
In the National Assembly, Mr Justin Muturi and Garissa Township MP Aden Duale are poised to retain their seats as Speaker and Majority Leader, respectively, owing to their strong standing and support they enjoy from the top party leadership.