Wakapee’s widow wins Juja Jubilee Party ticket
Oliver Musembi and Mathew Ndung’u
Susan Njeri Waititu, the widow of Francis Munyua alias Wakapee, will now fly the Jubilee Party flag for Juja by-election after she won the ruling party’s primaries held at the weekend.
Mrs Waititu garnered 1,596 votes against her closest competitor, former Kiambu County Education Minister during ousted Governor Ferdinand Waititu’s tenure, Dr Joseph Ng’ang’a who came a distant second with 889 votes.
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) don Naftaly Rugara managed 669 votes to emerge third among the five contestants for the Jubilee ticket.
The others were Antony Kirori who got 189 votes and Anderson Karanja Ngarachu 48 votes.
However, the exercise was marred by low voter-turnout, bribery allegations, names of voters missing in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) register, which was being used for verification and harassment of presiding officers.
Going by the 2017 IEBC register in the constituency, there were about 155,600 voters and only 3,391 cast their votes during Saturday’s nomination, representing about 2 per cent.
The Jubilee leadership in the area led by Governor James Nyoro vowed to go full throttle in retaining the seat that fell vacant following the demise of Wakapee who succumbed to brain cancer which he battled for years in both local and foreign hospitals.
Speaking soon after the results were announced at Thiririka Primary School, Nyoro who was accompanied by his deputy Joyce Ngugi and a number of other prominent county leaders urged other contenders to now focus on helping Mrs Waititu and, by extension, Jubilee recapture the seat.
“The victory is not for Mrs Waititu or her family, but the entire Jubilee fraternity. We will go all out to retain the seat, which belonged to the party. Defeat is not in our vocabulary,” the Governor said.
Mrs Waititu, the Jubilee flag bearer for the May 18 mini-election, is a former tutor who operated a secretarial college in Ruiru before venturing into business and farming.
She is also a counselling psychologist and runs several programmes in aid of teenage mothers in the constituency.
Although she has brushed off allegations that she was a State-sponsored aspirant for the Juja by-election, the presence of Jubilee heavyweights led by Governor Nyoro during the presentation of the party ticket spoke volumes.
There was also heavy presence of government agents including top administrators and police officers during the voting and eventual tallying of the votes in which security was very tight.
However, Kiambu Jubilee County Assembly Caucus chairman Njoroge Kururia dismissed claims that the party had a preferred candidate and said the will of the people had prevailed.
“Those were baseless allegations. We have conducted a free and fair nomination exercise for the voters to choose their representative whom the party will fully support going forward to ensure we retain the seat,” said Kururia who is also the Biashara ward MCA in Ruiru.
Mrs Waititu will now face off with other candidates including George Koimburi who defected from Jubilee to join People’s Empowerment Party (PEP) associated with Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria.
United Democratic Alliance (UDA), associated with Deputy President William Ruto, pulled out of the race, but the party is believed to be quietly supporting the PEP candidate.
Ken Gachuma, a former ND-CDF chairman for the constituency who was eyeing the UDA ticket has decamped to another party.
Others in the race are independents Dr Joseph Gichui, Zack Nderitu and James Marungo.