It’s Waititu Vs Kabogo For JP Ticket… This Is What To Expect.

Members of 'United 4 Kiambu' Alliance;  Rev. David Kariuki Ngari (Gakuyo), James Nyoro and Ferdinand Waititu during Sunday's rally at Kimende Trading Centre in Lari Constituency where they endorsed Waititu's candidature for the Kiambu gubernatorial race. INSET: Incumbent William Kabogo Gitau.
This week has seen two major sets of information concerning the Kiambu gubernatorial race that calls for the residents’ attention.

‘United for Kiambu’ Alliance.

First, after several months of speculations, five gubernatorial hopefuls on Sunday settled on Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu as their compromise candidate to fight it out with incumbent Governor William Kabogo for the Jubilee Party (JP) ticket in the next two weeks.

In an announcement made at Kimende Trading Centre in Lari Constituency, James Karanja Nyoro will be Waititu’s running. Rev. David Kariuki Ngari (Gakuyo) will assume a newly created position of chief minister where he will be in-charge of all the County Executive Committee members (CECs) and also head the lands department.

John Mugwe, an engineer by profession, will be CEC in-charge of roads as Aquiline Njoki will be the county executive in-charge of trade and legal affairs.

Opinion Polls.

A survey released on Tuesday by Trends and Insights for Africa (TIFA) and conducted between August last year and February this year, indicated that Kabogo led other aspirants for the county top seat by 46% followed by Waititu with 33% of residents’ support. Dr. Nyoro and Eng. Gakuru Kanyanja got 8% and 1% respectively. The survey further indicated 16% of Kiambu residents are yet to decide who will lead them after the August 8 general election.

What does this imply?

These polls indicated that the race for the Kiambu governor is too tight and can sway any way. It is also good to note that the polls were held before the five candidates had united and at a time when Waititu was facing the wrath of President Uhuru Kenyatta during his visit to the county for some utterances he (Waititu) had made concerning the recently concluded mass voter registration exercise.  
First, the (almost) 20% undecided voters could turn tables either way. If the voted for Kabogo, this will mean that he would emerge victorious by over 60% of the votes. Furthermore, Kabogo only needs 5% of these voters to emerge the winner.

On the other hand, if the 20% voted for ‘Team Waititu’, this group would end up with about 60% of the votes. Further still, a joint campaign may convince more voters into voting for Waititu to surpass the 50% mark.

Kabogo’s Candidature.

In our daily interaction with Kiambu residents as we maneuver through the gauntlet of opinions, it is quite clear that the Kabogo candidature is not one to ignore or underrate. Quite a good number of Kiambu residents still remain in deep-rooted support for the governor.

His political acumen is proven. He is a great negotiator and not a political puppet. He is a dealmaker who thrives in the hot seat of a boardroom. Above all, he has traveled to all parts of the county, has definitely been everywhere and isn't stopping. The media follow his path as opponents emulate his narrative.

Kabogo, a man of means, has dug his roots deep by recruiting political lieutenants and getting into the county employment former political activists. These are mainly people whose only source of income has been the handouts they extort from parliamentary and other political aspirants in campaign years and thereafter remained virtual beggars until another election was announced. Kabogo has not only given them hope, but a future they could only dream of, the consequence of which is the creation of a sound and loyal support base in practically all wards of the county.

He has also initiated several projects initiated under his administration such a health care services enhancement in all the 60 wards, the use of technology borrowed from Egypt and Israel to refurbish some of the county roads that have been in pathetic state for a long time as well as endearing himself to a section of the youth, women and persons living with disability who have benefitted from the Biashara Funds that the county initiated in 2014.

Another group that is fiercely loyal to the governor and will intensely campaign and vote for Kabogo are those who have benefitted in form of contracts for the delivery of goods and services to the county.

Kabogo is also known to have such confidence that he is the kind of player who doesn't bluff in a poker game. He cannot be intimidated and doesn't blink. His candour builds respect. The strongest resonating dimensions to his grit and tenacity do not dissuade or cower him to a point where even his faults are steadily accepted and adopted.

Waititu’s Prospects.

Waititu’s campaign strategy so far seems to have undertaken an ambitious effort to find likely supporters, identifying and modeling the voting behaviour of every voter in the county and early indications are that his efforts are paying off.

Literally, in the midst of the highest peak in voter dissatisfaction of the incumbent’s performance in his first term in office as a governor, Waititu has somehow reaped the benefits. The first wave of data shows preliminary signs that Waititu may slowly build a slight edge over the incumbent though along a tenuous path.

According to an analysis to gauge the mood of voters in most of the populous parts of Kiambu County, namely Thika, Gatundu, Githurai, Kabete, Kikuyu, Kiambu, Githunguri, Kiambaa and Limuru sub-counties, all indicators suggests that Kabogo’s weakness in urban and sub-urban areas may be hurting him badly. Very many residents here take Waititu as the proverbial ‘Hercules’ and Kiambu's problems are the labours to pursue and slay. He is riding a wave of popularity so profound even the sharks are curbing their taste.

However, even though Kabogo’s side cannot claim to see any clear and heartening trends in their favour by virtue of incumbency, it will be naïve to underestimate Kabogo’s influence and network across the county.

While there is too little data to point to any conclusive voting trends, the Waititu candidacy seems to see some encouraging signs with the incumbent and he actually hopes for a surge of Kabogo’s loyal support base of Ruiru, some parts of Juja sub-counties as well as the entire staff of the county government.

That notwithstanding, Waititu’s past may have some negative bearing to his quest for governorship. There are those who view him as a hooligan, something that may work to his disadvantage especially with investors and the elite.

The Nyoro, Gakuyo factor in the race.

James Nyoro was the runner-up to Kabogo in the last gubernatorial race and mainly lost because he was not within Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee wave. Nyoro garnered (NARC) 241,658. 022 votes against TNA’s Kabogo 487,631 votes.

Many, especially those who appreciated that the governor’s position needed a person with sound managerial skills, wanted Nyoro to become the first supreme manager of Kiambu County. Nonetheless, the last minute plea by President Kenyatta that the region vote in people from his vehicle in order for him to have a say in parliament and in the counties, knocked him out.

Some Kiambu residents claim to have learnt their lesson for not voting him in though it will not be a walkover for this agricultural economist who will find himself answering unpleasant questions from people who accuse of keeping his distance from them since his defeat in 2013 to convince them to vote for Waititu and him as deputy governor.

In an event that Nyoro agrees to back Waititu for the governorship, with Nyoro coming in as the deputy governor, their support base will remain intact and may even attract lukewarm supporters of Kabogo and the undecided who would opt not to vote to a losing side.

It will be in the same vein that Rev. David Ngari (Gakuyo) might influence the outcome of the JP primaries in favour of Waititu. To many people, Gakuyo sets out himself as the alternative voice in the face of the deep-rooted political bickering and hooliganism within the county’s politics. His entry into politics from the pulpit might project him as the voice of reason and position himself as a safe pair of hands for the disgruntled Kiambu electorate, a sure way to sweep away the undecided voters and the not so ‘die-hard’ supporters of Kabogo towards the Waititu candidature.

Gakuyo is a respected personality in the clergy and business circles who does not need any introduction. He is a man known for his vigour and aggressiveness in selling his ideas to the people as evident in his marketing strategies for Gakuyo Real Estates and Ekeza Sacco. He knows how to take advantage of the media and other forms of advertising platforms which, if well utilised, this new team’s quest can go a long way in causing an upset.

Being a man of the cloth, many people perceive Gakuyo as the voice of reason, one who will right the wrongs that have been made by the incumbent and his rivals. If he can be able to gauge the anger swelling among sections of Kiambu residents, jump on it with aggression and manage to portray his team as the ‘better option’, Waititu is likely to cause an upset.

In his capacity as a church minister, Rev. Ngari interacts with the ‘low-class’ and the disillusioned who have no interest in the political leanings of some of the most wealthy people and politicians who live lives so far from their own. If he can successfully act to distance himself from the elite and portray himself as their ‘messiah’ so to say, the dispossessed will walk into the voting booth and vote for his man who will overturn the very system that has ruined their lives.

Otherwise, Gakuyo needs to put up with those who think that politics is not for the men of the cloth. 

The Waititu team too needs to devise their own counter-attack mechanisms to wade off the kind of dirty politics and mud smearing campaigns characterised with Kiambu politics without they themselves getting dirty. They need also to work out a formula to assure those who have invested in Ekeza Sacco and Gakuyo real estate that their investments are safe and have nothing to do with Gakuyo’s entry into politics.

That said, the Kiambu gubernatorial race still remains too close to call. 

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