Minister, governor in PNU turf war ahead of 2022 poll
A proposed pre-election pact between the Orange Democratic Movement and Party of National Unity (PNU) has escalated the jostling for control of the latter party between Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi and Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya.
On Thursday, Munya declared that PNU’s association with the ruling Jubilee took precedence over the pact with Raila Odinga’s Orange party.
“We should take cognisance of the fact I’m a Cabinet Secretary as a nominee of PNU.
PNU is a part of the Jubilee coalition. No one should imagine PNU has merged with ODM,” Munya said.
There has been jostling for the position of party leader between Muriithi and Munya, who is prevented from explicit politicking unless he resigns from the Cabinet.
The post was last held by retired President Mwai Kibaki who is Muriithi’s uncle.
And while on his third tour of Mt Kenya region last weekend, in a span of three weeks, Raila seemed to rub Munya’s axis the wrong way when he introduced Muriithi as “kiongozi ya PNU” (PNU leader) during a meeting in Isiolo.
The third tour, billed as the mission “in scaling the mountain,” kicked off in Nanyuki, then to Isiolo on Saturday, then proceed to the larger Meru and Mt Kenya East region on Monday and yesterday to climax at Mashujaa Day celebrations in Kirinyaga today.
The intensified scouring of the mountain slopes for support for his 2022 presidential bid comes on the heels of the ground-breaking overtures with the Mt Kenya Foundation (MKF) lobby.
Before his luncheon with the MKF, Raila had spent a three-day stretch in Nanyuki town hosted by Muriithi where he met business people, youth and women delegations.
Raila’s delegation, that included senior members of ODM including Siaya Senator James Orengo and Secretary General Edwin Sifuna, also met with a delegation of PNU officials led by chairman David Kamau.
Raila and Muriithi would ride in the governor’s official car from Nanyuki and address impromptu rallies in Nyeri, Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Kiambu and back to Nairobi the day before the MKF date, described by the lobby’s chair and businessman Peter Munga, as “triumphant entry” into Mt Kenya.
Beyond the repeated public events, PNU last Tuesday passed a National Executive Committee (NEC) resolution to pursue formal negotiations for partnerships “with like-minded” parties.
On Thursday, officials of both parties organised what looked like a joint fundraiser in a city hotel where giant banners were emblazoned with PNU’s blazing blue twin torches and ODM’s ripe orange symbols.
This explicit expression of strong embrace between Raila’s party and PNU seem to have taken Munya, who was chief guest, by surprise compelling him to issue a disclaimer when he took the podium stating PNU’s relationship with Jubilee was more consequential than with ODM.
Coming after Sifuna and MPs Mark Nyamita and Gladys Wanga heaped praises on Muriithi for showing courage in “holding our hand in scaling the mountain” the CS’ expressions of reservations had the effect of dampening the enthusiasm or urging caution at the speed at which Muriithi and his cohorts inside PNU were moving.
Isiolo Deputy Governor Abdi Issa, had earlier endorsed Muriithi, beseeching ODM leadership to consider him for the running mate position saying his integrity, leadership record and high level technical expertise in economic affairs qualified him for the job.
Muriithi’s enthusiasm in pursuing a political pact with ODM and high profile visibility events with Raila has thrust him in the frontline among other players from the Mt Kenya region eyeing the number two slot.
Others are Munya, Speaker Justin Muturi, Peter Kenneth, Mutahi Kagwe, Mwangi Kiunjuri, Kindiki Kithure, William Kabogo, Martha Karua and Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui.
When reached for comment about the jostling for the PNU soul and party leadership between his axis and Munya’s, Muriithi said: “Munya, myself and I believe there are others interested in this position are all siblings raised in the Kibaki court of world view and values system.
Whoever gets it with the approval of delegates and PNU membership will be in good stead to lead us.”
About the deal making with ODM and what is in it for PNU, Muriithi said: “This is not a love affair but an engagement based on defined PNU aspirations, pursuits and interests in good and progressive governance, economic and political pillars conceived by Kibaki in his 16-point compact of 1997.
The biggest deliverable on governance was 2010 Constitution and President Uhuru Kenyatta exceeded expectations in infrastructure development.
PNU partnering with ODM is in pursuit of the pending business in that vision.”