It was touted to be Mr Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja coalition’s seat to lose, but the new partnership between Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC) could blow the Nairobi gubernatorial race wide open.
ANC and UDA announced on Sunday that they will team up in the 2022 General Election, opening the possibility of fielding a joint candidate against the Azimio la Umoja coalition.
Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, who was elected on a Jubilee Party ticket in 2017, has been getting cosy with ANC, while giving the outfit led by President Kenyatta a wide berth.
Former Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru is the only politician who has expressed interest in flying an UDA flag for Nairobi governor.
Mr Sakaja, during ANC’s national delegates conference at Bomas of Kenya on Sunday, hinted at contesting the county’s top seat in the August 9 polls: “You know there is only one super senator Sakaja, but now it’s time to change [the title to super governor].”
Pundits say a joint Sakaja-Wanjiru ticket could prove a tricky scenario for the “Handshake” team with all Nairobi Jubilee MPs, except Kamukunji’s Yusuf Hassan, now firmly in UDA.
Ford-Kenya Secretary-General Chris Wamalwa, who is also the MP for Kiminini, said that a technical team will be formed to study modalities for fielding candidatures, either through consensus or joint nominations.
“Scientific research will give us the way forward,” he said.
DP Ruto has previously been adamant that UDA will field candidates in every part of the country but this could change with the entry of ANC and Ford-Kenya into the picture as partners.
Azimio faces a crowded field that could scupper plans for a joint ticket. Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi, Governor Ann Kananu, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry boss Richard Ngatia and businesswoman Agnes Kagure are all eyeing the Azimio flag.
Opinion is sharply divided on the method to pick the coalition’s flag-bearer, with some calling for an opinion poll.
However, ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna expressed confidence of Azimio sweeping a majority of the seats in Nairobi, including that of governor.
“We already know the method we will use to pick a candidate but let’s cross the bridge when we get there,” he said.
Mr Odinga has called for zoning of the country to allow parties to field candidates in regions their support is strongest and holding joint primaries in neutral zones.
This, he says, will “ensure we get majority of the seats right from MCA to governor,” he said.