Epic battle for City Hall top seat now in limbo

Polycarp Igathe (right) and his running mate Philip Kalok

Azimio la Umoja Nairobi gubernatorial candidate Polycarp Igathe (right) and his running mate Philip Kaloki. The Nairobi governorship race could soon turn into a one-horse race with UDA candidate Johnson Sakaja facing disqualification.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Nairobi governorship race could soon turn into a one-horse race with United Democratic Alliance (UDA) candidate Johnson Sakaja facing disqualification over questionable academic papers.

The contest to succeed Governor Anne Kananu, who took over from Mike Sonko following his impeachment in 2020, has been billed as a battle royale between former deputy governor and Jubilee Party candidate Polycarp Igathe and Senator Sakaja.

However, Mr Sakaja’s candidature is now hanging in the balance.

UDA Secretary-General Veronica Maina said they are waiting for the verdict from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Disputes Resolution Committee before they take the next course of action.

“We do not want to put the cart before the horse but if I speculate, I will only do so on the positive side. The matter is still pending before the IEBC’s Disputes Resolution Committee and we are waiting for that matter to be heard and concluded,” said Ms Maina.

Determined by law

She said Mr Sakaja is still their gubernatorial candidate for Nairobi, noting that electoral processes are determined by the law and not on social media.

“He is our candidate and he complied with all requirements but since we are people who are law-abiding, let the legal process go on then we decide whether we are dissatisfied or not before taking the next step,” she said.

Mr Sakaja was cleared together with his running mate Njoroge Muchiri on June 7, 2022.

He was set to face off with Mr Igathe, under the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party, who had been cleared by the IEBC three days earlier.

The race has also attracted businesswoman Agnes Kagure, alongside her running mate Abel Onchari Oyieyo, who is running as an independent after ditching Jubilee Party following a deal that settled on Mr Igathe to fly Azimio’s flag.

Mr Kenneth Nyamwamu of United Progressive Alliance ticket is also in the contest and has named former banker and human rights activist Lilian Tina Achieng as his running mate.

The contest has also attracted tech-entrepreneur Harman Grewal on a Safina party ticket, Ms Esther Waringa who is running as an independent candidate, Ms Nancy Wambui (independent), and former journalist Denise Kodhe who is flying the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) ticket.

Mr Kodhe will be deputised by Mr Steve Paul, a 28-year-old graduate of Business Management.

Two main candidates

However, it is the clearance of the two main candidates that has attracted controversy, but more so for the 37-year-old Sakaja.

Immediately after the senator’s clearance by the IEBC, four petitions were lodged against him, with his clearance revoked on various grounds, including lack of requisite educational qualifications.

While Mr Igathe’s case fell through on Monday after a petitioner, Mr George Bush, who wanted him barred from contesting confessed before the dispute resolution committee that he has no evidence to prove his allegations, Mr Sakaja is still battling to prove that his academic papers are genuine.

Mr Sakaja claims to have genuinely acquired a Bachelor of Science in Management from Team University in Uganda from where he graduated in 2016.

Even though the university has certified his certificates as genuine and owned him as an alumnus, Commission for University Education (CUE) on Wednesday revoked an earlier letter that had acknowledged his certificate.

The CUE chairperson Prof Chacha Nyaigotti said the agency received information about the authenticity of the degree Mr Sakaja had presented that would require further investigation to ascertain its validity.

“Consequently, in accordance to the CUE recognition procedures, we hereby revoke the recognition of your degree – Bachelor of Science in Management from the aforementioned university,” Prof Nyaigotti said.

But in a swift rejoinder, Mr Sakaja said nothing will stop him from being on the ballot.

‘Null and void’

He termed the revocation of his credentials by the CUE chairman as null and void, and politically instigated, alleging that Prof Nyaigotti has been coerced and intimidated by President Uhuru Kenyatta to illegally revoke recognition of his accreditation.

“The desperate attempts by President Kenyatta and the so-called Deep State will fall on the sword of justice. I have the requisite qualifications to vie for the position of governor of Nairobi and will be on the ballot,” said Mr Sakaja.

“To President Kenyatta I say: Let the people decide. Not even the threats to arrest me will dim our resolve to serve the people of Nairobi,” he added.