Besieged Waititu struggles to stay afloat in Kiambu
During his campaign for the Kiambu governor seat in 2017, Ferdinand Waititu, often posed: “Can you allow someone to snatch a piece of chapati from your mouth as you watch?”
Waititu was defending his controversial approach to issues, which he once described as “Embakasi style” of justice.
That was after the former Embakasi MP was once captured on camera throwing stones at people accused of grabbing school land.
The abrasive politician argued that applying unorthodox means to protect what “belongs to you” is acceptable.
But Baba Yao, as he is popularly known, is now fighting to retain “chapati” that is almost being snatched from his mouth.
The streetwise politician, who shifted his base from Nairobi to Kiambu in 2015 when he successfully vied for the Kabete parliamentary seat and later ousted William Kabogo from the governor’s perch, is a man under siege.
Besides facing a corruption case linked to Sh588 million road tenders, he has been banned from the county offices until the case is concluded.
Deputy governor James Nyoro, who has had frosty relations with the governor, has already taken over in acting capacity. As recently as Tuesday, Nyoro has been holding Cabinet meetings.
Interestingly, Waititu, who maintains he is the substantive governor, is said to be holding parallel Cabinet meetings in his private offices in Nairobi.
But even as he tries to put on a brave face, the governor appears to be in deep trouble not just legally but also politically.
Besides, his popularity waning among members of the public, he has lost control of the County Assembly after the Leader of Majority Antony Ikonya, Chief Whip James Mburu and their deputies were impeached over claims of interfering with the independence of the Assembly.
Ikonya was replaced by Ndeiya MCA Gideon Gachara, one of the governor’s harshest critics. Gachara floored Waititu’s ally, Ting’ang’a MCA Covenant Chege in the contest for the Leader of Majority seat.
Biashara MCA Elijah Njoroge, who last month intiated the abortive motion to impeach the Speaker, Stephen Ndicho, is now leading some ward reps in a plot to impeach Waititu. The plot seems to be gaining traction among MCAs.
“We have very solid grounds to oust the governor. We believe the motion will sail through in the Assembly and be ratified by the senate,” Njoroge told the People Daily.
But there are reports that Waititu has prevailed upon a number of MCAs to withdraw from the impeachment plan, thereby reducing the required threshold.
Even then, sources say the Jubilee leadership last week told Nominated MCAs, who he has allegedly been using to ward off political onslaught against him, to “serve the party interests”.
Waititu, who claims he is being persecuted for backing Deputy President William Ruto’s presidential ambitions, does not seem to be getting any sympathies from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s side, which has been accusing Ruto allies of frustrating the President’s agenda by engaging in early campaigns.
Lawyer Kimani Wakimaa, who hails from Githunguri, said though Waititu remains afloat, for now, his current troubles may sink him politically.
“Once you fall out with the-powers-that-be, your goose is cooked and that is where Waititu is currently,” said Kimani.
Before Waititu’s arrest, nominated MP Maina Kamanda, who is the leader of the pro-president Kieleweke team, accompanied Nyoro to church services across Kiambu, a move that appeared to suggest that the ‘‘all the President’s” men are now tired of the governor.
Waititu’s isolation was also evident on Monday when a group of leaders from Kiambu including Energy PS Joseph Njoroge — who was instrumental in Waititu victory —, Rural Electrification Authority chairman Simon Gicharu and County Commissioner Wilson Wanyanga held a meeting at Windsor Golf Club. The governor did not attend.
Days later, Gicharu turned down an appointment by Waititu to lead a committee to scrutinise the county’s pending bills, saying he had not been consulted before the appointment.