PERSON OF INTEREST

THIS MAN PETER KENNETH

A conspiracy is brewing over former presidential candidate Peter Kenneth’s entry into the Nairobi

BY TBI Writer

A conspiracy is brewing over former presidential candidate Peter Kenneth’s entry into the Nairobi gubernatorial race with the Jubilee Party (JP) ticket. This political warfare has multiple fronts, and involves a multibillion shilling war chest right inside the ruling JP. A closer analysis reveals that the incumbent Governor Evans Kidero is the least of Kenneth’s worries.

A hidden hand high in the JP hierarchy poses the greatest threat to Kenneth and the ruling party’s prospects of capturing City Hall.

This internecine war on Kenneth, involving a political calculus by his JP enemies in high places, has little to do with the 12th General Election scheduled for August 8 and everything with the Uhuru Kenyatta presidential succession and transition in August 2022.

Some quarters regard the entry of the one-time Assistant Minister for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030 (2008-2013) and former leader of the Kenya National Congress into the City Hall race as highly inconvenient, threatening and complicated.

All Peter Kenneth wants is to be the Governor of Nairobi for one term. He wants to do such a sterling job over the next five years that would stand out for decades as an object lesson and benchmark in efficiency, professionalism and delivery of services and development to the people of Nairobi. When Kenneth was MP for Gatanga in the 11th Parliament, the constituency was voted the best managed in the country.

However, Kenneth’s foes view this proposed one-term high-octane performance at City Hall as a dry run and launch pad for much higher office at a most inconvenient time for them: 2022 General Election of August, when President Kenyatta leaves office.

With Kenneth’s bid, the stakes of the City Hall race have become sky-high, and not only inside JP. Coalition on Reforms and Democracy (Cord) and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga joined the fray on Governor Kidero’s side and promptly clashed with the Deputy President William Ruto.

Outside the race for State House, the City Hall race has the highest stakes for both Raila and Ruto, and for good reason.

If elected governor, Kenneth would hugely complicate DP Ruto’s chances of smoothly succeeding President Kenyatta in 2022. The City would have regained its Green City in the Sun status in time to burnish Kenneth’s credentials for State House in time for the 2022 General Election.

This is the fundamental reason that he is being fought tooth and nail, both within and without JP, complete with massive and multi-pronged strategies that are taking no chances and sparing no resources to prevent the rise of Governor Peter Kenneth.

The race for is set to be a demanding contest. It will also be Kenneth’s baptism of fire, and the beginning of great things for him if he becomes Governor—and he has no doubt he will.

On January 17, in a meeting with ODM leaders at Nyayo Stadium to counter Jubilee’s strategy of taking every one of the city’s 17 elective seats, Raila declared, “I have heard Ruto say that they will do anything to capture the governor’s seat. I want to tell him that he has never been an elected leader in Nairobi and cannot purport to control Nairobi politics.”

This cutting remark was in reference to Ruto’s own statement on January 11 urging the JP faithful in Nairobi to choose a sole candidate for City Hall by consensus.

Raila roared: “Yeye ni jogoo wa shamba ambaye hawiki mjini (he is a village cockerel that cannot crow in the city).”

Raila went on: “I got more votes than Uhuru Kenyatta in the last elections. We also got more votes in the gubernatorial contest than the Jubilee candidate. How come we lost Senate, woman representative and National Assembly seats?”

Raila, who will be making a fourth stab at the presidency should the Cord pick him as the flagbearer, said they lost some constituencies in the city to Jubilee because they lacked the wisdom and intellect to choose a better strategy. He cited Roysambu, Kasarani, Makadara and Embakasi West as areas where ODM “could have won easily but lost because of selfishness and greed”.

What many analysts do not appreciate is 2022 is also Raila’s succession year, whether he wins this August or not. If he wins, the NASA MoU will lock him into only one term, after which he must pass the torch. If Uhuru wins, he does not qualify to be a presidential contender at the 2022 general election.

A Governor Kenneth, who has cleaned up Nairobi and made it tick again for the first time in decades, will be very well positioned for State House in 2022 and will most likely inherit Uhuru’s massive Mt Kenya vote bloc. Raila’s vote bloc is also going to be up for grabs in 2022, most likely by Musalia Mudavadi.

The race for the next Governor of Nairobi will therefore greatly influence the race for Kenyatta’s succession. It will be vicious. Money will be poured; night meetings held; and voters massively imported. It will take all of Kenneth’s prodigious patience and strategic thinking to overcome the forces against him.

Kenneth will also have to contend with well-oiled outfits like Team Nairobi, which brings together JP luminaries such as Margaret Wanjiru, Senator Mike Sonko and Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru.

Kenneth, 51, was a popular chairman of the Kenya Football Federation in the 1990s and a Fifa committee member. This banker, who also holds a law degree, has worked in the boardrooms of Africa Reinsurance Corporation, the Industrial Development Bank and the Zep Reinsurance Company.

He would bring in decades of management experience at the very top of a number of blue-chip corporations to City Hall: And from there the sky really is the limit. Which is all the more reason Kenneth is being fought so hard.

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