Raila: I regret backing Uhuru’s candidate Igathe for Nairobi governor

Raila: I regret backing Uhuru’s candidate Igathe for Nairobi governor

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has publicly regretted supporting President Uhuru Kenyatta's Jubilee Party candidate, Polycarp Igathe for Nairobi governor.

Mr Odinga said on Wednesday that the Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition lost the seat because it fielded a weak candidate to face the United Democratic Alliance's (UDA) Johnson Sakaja, who won the contest.

Mr Sakaja won the Nairobi governor's seat after garnering 699,392 votes against Mr Igathe of the Jubilee Party, who got 573,518 votes.

Mr Odinga said it was a mistake to force Westlands MP Timothy Wanyonyi to step down in favour of Mr Igathe - who served as Nairobi deputy governor under former county boss Mike Sonko.

He described Nairobi County as a bastion of opposition, highlighting how his coalition swept the majority of county assembly (CA), MP, women's representative and senate seats.

Mr Odinga also beat President William Ruto in Nairobi, garnering 767,395 (57.3 per cent) to 561,775 (41.94 per cent), according to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

“We did not get governor, not because we do not enjoy massive support in Nairobi but because of the candidate we had. He was not strong enough,” said Mr Odinga.

“We won the Senate seat, Woman Representative position, President. How come we lost the governor? We would have won. I regret prevailing on Mr Wanyonyi to step down,” he added.

He revealed how the coalition tried to persuade Mr Wanyonyi to be Mr Igathe's running mate in the race.

Mr Wanyonyi, Mr Odinga said, rejected the line-up and opted to defend his Westlands parliamentary seat, which he won.

'I am going back to Westlands’

“Wanyonyi is a gentleman; he agreed to step down. We later wanted him to be the running mate for the Nairobi Governor race. He told me ‘No, I am going back to Westlands’,” disclosed Mr Odinga.

He made the remarks in Westlands during a meeting with 200 members of the clergy. The meeting was hosted by Mr Wanyonyi.

Mr Odinga and other ODM members at the event, including ODM deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya and secretary general Edwin Sifuna, hinted that the outfit would back Mr Wanyonyi for the top county seat in 2027.

Mr Odinga also called on youths who have attained the age of 18 to obtain national identity cards and register as voters in preparation for 2027.

The decision to field Mr Igathe as Nairobi governor under the Azimio coalition was taken at State House in Nairobi and is said to have triggered major infighting ahead of the last elections on August 9, 2022.

In the 2017 elections, President Uhuru Kenyatta's Jubilee settled for a Mike Sonko-Igathe ticket, which party honchos said would have seen Mr Igathe running the politics, administration and management of the county, with Mr Sonko doing the political legwork and groundwork.

But Mr Sonko soon shunned Mr Igathe, demanding that he be treated as his deputy rather than an equal.

 Mr Igathe quit

In January 2018, barely five months after being sworn in, Mr Igathe quit, saying he had not earned Mr Sonko's trust to lead the administration and management of the county.

He would, however, resurface to campaign in 2022 after the deal brokered by the State House. Politicians in Nairobi from the opposition coalition were whipped to join him on a canvassing tour of the capital.

But when Nairobi voters went to the polls, Mr Igathe lost to Mr Sakaja. However, the majority of the Azimio candidates who toured the county with him won their seats.

In total, the opposition won 12 of the 17 parliamentary seats. In the Senate, ODM party secretary general Edwin Sifuna polled 716,651 votes to defeat his main rival, Bishop Margaret Wanjiru of the UDA, who polled 524,091 votes.

In the women's seat, Esther Passaris of the ODM retained her seat after garnering 698,929 votes. Her main rival, Senator Millicent Omanga of the UDA party, came second with 586,246 votes.