‘Jungle’ entry in Kiambu race stirs up competition
The Kiambu political landscape has taken a new shape with the sudden defection of Thika Town MP Patrick Wainaina to Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) as he angles for a fight for the governorship.
Wainaina, popularly known as ‘Jungle’ is one of those who have declared interest in the seat alongside incumbent James Nyoro, Senator Kimani Wamatangi and former governor Ferdinand Waititu ‘Baba Yao’.
The first term legislator, who was elected as an Independent caught many by surprise by decamping to the ‘Hustlers’ side as he has previously declined to align himself with any of the emerging political camps.
He was welcomed by Ruto who donned him with a symbolic cap bearing UDA colours during a church function in Kiambaa constituency on Sunday.
Wainaina took the occasion to pronounce himself as the “incoming Kiambu governor” and the DP as the “incoming President” to applause by the congregation.
“I am delighted to be here with the DP who is the incoming President of Kenya while I will be the incoming Governor of Kiambu.
I also support his bottom-up economic model which is set to transform the country’s economy,” said the MP.
Kept them guessing
The legislator and Wamatangi have kept people guessing regarding their party affiliation, but Waititu who was bundled out of office through an impeachment motion by the County Assembly has been one of Ruto’s closest allies in the region.
Wainaina’s defection appears to put the ousted governor in an uncomfortable position given that he recently announced before Ruto that he will be seeking to recapture the seat on an UDA ticket.
In fact, Babayao was among those attending the Kiambaa function when Ruto received ‘Jungle’ into the ‘Hustler nation’ and it is anyone’s guess how the former county chief may have perceived this latest development.
Speaking earlier in Kiambu while accompanying Ruto on a tour of the county three weeks ago, Waititu told residents that he was ready for a comeback and to complete his unfinished business as governor.
“Najua mko tayari kunirudisha kuwa gavana wenu kwa uchaguzi ujao juu sio watu wa Kiambu waliniondoa kwa kiti (I know you are ready to re-elect me as your governor since it was not the voters who removed me from office,” Waititu said.
However, observers say that the real battle will be at the party primaries where Waititu may still spring a surprise on account of his touch with the grassroots.
“One can only write off Baba Yao at their own peril. He has a way with the people and if he plays the victim card to the public, he is likely to win their sympathy and support,” said Samuel Kuria, a resident of Juja, who follows Kiambu politics.
Nyoro, who has been in office for one-and-a-half years is expected to defend the seat on a Jubilee ticket through which he and Baba Yao assumed office in 2017.
A close confidant and ally of President Uhuru Kenyatta, the governor has recently warmed up to ODM leader Raila Odinga and was among leaders who took ‘Baba’ around the county and addressed residents at Githunguri, Kigumo, Kibichoi, Ruiru and Kiambu towns last week.
The first-term governor, who took over during the break out of the Covid-19 pandemic, is credited with revamping the county’s healthcare facilities and other infrastructure.
As he seeks to retain the seat, Nyoro who has been in office for about one-and-a-half years is expected to face Wamatangi, the Senate Chief Whip, in the Jubilee Party nominations, unless either of them or both decamp to other political outfits.