Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru is unrepentant over her recent remarks declaring that Central Kenya is ready for a Raila Odinga presidency.
Speaking in Kutus Thursday, the governor dismissed those criticising her over the remarks, saying that her sentiments echo those held by President Uhuru Kenyatta and, besides, she has a valid viewpoint by virtue of being an elected leader in the region.
“Those telling me not to speak should know that I am talking about President Kenyatta, who they neither support nor speak about. They invite outsiders and tell us to support them in 2022. Who has sent them to select a leader for us?” she posed.
With President Uhuru Kenyatta exiting the stage in 2022 and there being no clear successor from Central Kenya, presidential aspirants have been courting the region hoping to bag the critical vote. Boardroom wars, backstabbing and undercutting have been the order of the day, with many looking to determine the way the region will vote.
Politicians and commentators feel the lack of a clear regional kingpin has given way to the growing rifts and unease in Jubilee Party, with the Kieleweke and Tanga Tanga factions trying to outdo each other. Ms Waiguru’s insistence that her sentiments reflect those of the President is likely to ignite further debate on the 2022 succession.
Mr Junet Mohammed, who is Mr Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party’s Director of Elections, said Governor Waiguru’s sentiments on the election cannot just be wished away as she is a leader who represents a county in Mt Kenya region.
“She is a governor in one of the counties in the Mt Kenya region. So her views are as valid as any other politician and they will be of great value when the right time comes,” Mr Mohammed said.
President Kenyatta, in what appeared to be a response to a section of the political class which has argued that his March 2018 handshake with Mr Odinga was the propagation of “the politics of dynasties”, said he will only engage with leaders who have a positive outlook for the country’s future.
“When you hear people out there talk about dynasties … sijui mtu fulani ni dynasty, sijui ile dynasty (so and so belongs to this dynasty, or that dynasty). It’s not about that,” the President said during a memorial service for founding President Jomo Kenyatta at the Holy Family Basilica, yesterday.
Politicians associated with the Deputy President William Ruto have in the past declared that the pact between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga’s is a ploy by political “dynasties” to block the DP from ascending to power. Ms Waiguru spoke a day after Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata told her to stop attempting to give the region political direction. According to Mr Kang’ata, it is the President who will guide the populous region and that Ms Waiguru should not purport to speak on behalf of the voters.
“It’s too early for leaders to speak about 2022 elections when we should be busy delivering the promises we made to the electorate when we were seeking the elective positions,” he told Ms Waiguru.
Nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura, while lauding Ms Waiguru’s statement as a bold one, said he would wait to hear from the President himself on whether the region should back the opposition leader in favour of Dr Ruto.
“I choose to take this as Waiguru’s clever strategy of standing out among those who are positioning themselves to inherit President Kenyatta’s Central voting block by appealing to Raila’s supporters. This is a big gamble,” said Mr Mwaura.
Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga did not mince his words in dismissing Ms Waiguru. He wondered: “When was she appointed to speak on behalf of the President? Ms Waiguru has a right to air her personal opinion, not that of the entire region.”
Ms Waiguru called for respect for other leaders’ views while insisting that all elected leaders in Central have a right to talk about the region.
“I am supporting the President and urging Mt Kenya people to stand with the President as he understands the region better. What we have not been given when President Kenyatta is in office, we should not be lied that we will get without one of us there (at the top),” said Ms Waiguru.
The governor waded into a political maelstrom recently after saying that if Mr Odinga runs for President and provides space for Central leaders in his executive, she would support him.
Additional reporting by Ndung’u Gachane, Simon Ciuri and Justus Ochieng