Deal sealed: Wanyonyi to be Igathe’s running mate

Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi

Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi. 

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

Former Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe will fly the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party flag in the city county’s gubernatorial contest, with Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi as his running mate.

President Kenyatta and Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga on Thursday struck a deal on how the coalition will approach the elections in Nairobi after hours of negotiations amid a deadlock that had threatened to derail the fledgling alliance.

In the deal to be announced today at State House, Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Party, which had fronted former Kibwezi MP Philip Kaloki for the running mate post, will get the county assembly Speaker slot. 

Nairobi gubernatorial hopeful Tim Wanyonyi (seated) is flanked by Luhya leaders during a press briefing on Wednesday.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

For the Senate and woman rep seats, all parties have agreed to field their own candidates. Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna and Jubilee’s Maina Kamanda are angling for the Senate seat. 

For the woman rep seat, incumbent Esther Passaris (ODM), nominated senator Beatrice Kwamboka (ODM), and former Kasarani MP Elizabeth Ongoro have expressed interest in the Azimio coalition ticket. Mr Odinga had earlier on failed to convince Mr Wanyonyi to drop his bid in favour of Mr Igathe, prompting escalation of the impasse to State House.

The former Prime Minister was locked in a meeting with Luhya leaders for the better part of the afternoon on Thursday at a Nairobi hotel but failed to prevail upon Mr Wanyonyi to step down for the former deputy governor.

According to sources privy to the happenings at the meeting, the Luhya leaders first held their own meeting at the hotel for several hours as they waited for Mr Odinga to join them.

The opposition leader was still at the inaugural Azimio Council meeting at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre that was chaired by the President. The Luhya meeting had Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Mr Sifuna, Makadara MP George Aladwa, former Nairobi Town Clerk Philip Kisia, Mr Wanyonyi and a host of other Luhya leaders in attendance. Mr Odinga joined them at 3pm accompanied by Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho.

Sources said Mr Wanyonyi was dead set against playing second fiddle to anyone. The matter was referred to President Kenyatta with the leaders leaving the hotel for State House after 5pm.

Azimio was set to announce a line-up for Nairobi’s top seats yesterday but this did not materialise with the Luhya leaders refusing to backtrack on their demand for the governor, Senate, five parliamentary and 24 wards seats as well as five cabinet positions.

Mr Kisia confirmed that the meeting was still going on but did not divulge the details, only saying that they would brief journalists later. The Westlands MP had also posted on his social media pages that his journey to City Hall was unstoppable and he would only listen to the people. 

“The journey started two years ago. The #SiMimiNiSisi movement is full throttle. Tim Wanyonyi will not shelve his ambition for another candidate. The people have spoken. Our race to City Hall is on. Indeed, Si Mimi, Ni Sisi,” posted the two term lawmaker.

Mr Wanyonyi is part of four Azimio aspirants who have been eyeing the seat, including Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry boss Richard Ngatia, Governor Ann Kananu and businesswoman Agnes Kagure.

For his part, Mr Ngatia disclosed that President Kenyatta had asked the three Jubilee aspirants to agree among themselves who is better placed to fly the party’s ticket for the capital’s top seat.

However, Mr Igathe was not in the picture then and he only came to learn about his entry into the battle on social media and later in the mainstream media.

“I have not been informed of his [Igathe’s] said-endorsement by President Kenyatta. The Head of State has also not asked me to bow out of the race,” Mr Ngatia told a local television.

The search for Azimio’s flagbearer is proving to be a headache for both the President and Mr Odinga. Mr Igathe, however, has hit the ground running with his campaigns.

The Equity Group Holdings Chief Commercial Officer visited Nairobi Metropolitan Services boss Mohamed Badi, lauding the agency for the milestones it has achieved in the county.

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