Mt Kenya Jubilee Party leaders divided on uniting behind DP Gachagua

Kega and Kahiga

Former Kieni MP Kanini Kega (left) with Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga. Kanini, who is now the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) nominee, had paid a courtesy call to the county chief. The two discussed the need to rally the region's leaders from both Azimio and Kenya Kwanza coalitions behind Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

Jubilee leaders in Mt Kenya have expressed different stances over Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s ability to unite the region’s leaders behind him.

The region will only be united by all its leaders and the desire of locals for “identity”, Jubilee secretary-general Jeremiah Kioni told Nation.Africa, adding that no individual leader can achieve that.

Mr Kioni said former President Uhuru Kenyatta failed to rally the region behind Azimio la Umoja One Kenya alliance leader Raila Odinga in the August 9 election, arguing that Mr Rigathi will also falter.

“Former President Uhuru spent five years telling the people of the Mt Kenya region to be united, but they did not. He did not succeed in rallying the mountain behind Raila,” Mr Kioni said by phone.

“Rigathi will follow that path. Mt Kenya will be unified by their desire for identity, but as of now no one can unify them.”

He said the region will come together behind one person after they realise that other regions have united for a purpose.

“When people of this region will be seriously questing for power, they will unite behind one person,” said the former Ndaragwa MP, who failed to reclaim his seat under Jubilee.

But Mr Kioni acknowledged that Mr Gachagua is the senior-most leader in the region.

“The person occupying the most senior office from Mt Kenya is the DP. But that does not mean that he will be able to unite them.  Uhuru himself did not manage to unite them,” Mr Kioni said.

Mt Kenya will produce a presidential candidate in 2027, he said, without naming anyone.

“As a region, we will certainly have our presidential candidate in 2027, but that leader would be guided by those issues that I have mentioned to you,” he said.

But former Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu said the future of Mt Kenya regarding socio-economic development and political positioning will depend on leaders coming together and jointly expressing the region’s interests.

“As leaders, we need to first get a common definition and agreement on exactly what are the region’s interests. This can only be done through the coming together of the current leadership to identify and prioritise projects and issues that the region needs to tackle,” Mr Wambugu told the Nation on Thursday.

Mr Gachagua, he said, should focus on bringing the region’s leaders together irrespective of their political affiliations.

“This will need leadership, and this is where Rigathi comes in if he is able to rally this leadership behind him,” the outspoken leader said.

“As the most senior politician at the moment and being the Deputy President of today’s government, this is the primary responsibility he has.”

Former Kieni MP Kanini Kega recently announced that he would help foster the region’s unity behind the DP, but within his political formation – Jubilee, which is led by Mr Kenyatta.

“The senior-most politician that we have at the moment in Mt Kenya is none other than DP Rigathi Gachagua and we will all be anchored under that umbrella,” Mr Kega said when he met Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga and promised to work with others to unite the region’s leaders.

“But people have been misconstruing that we are leaving our political parties to join another political formation.

“I want to make it clear that we are coming together with our own outfits at the moment. If in future we will be able to work on those other things, then it will be okay.

“At the moment, I am joining this unity as a member of the Jubilee party. I am here as director of elections at the Jubilee party. I believe that any person imagining that there is conflict in Azimio has a fertile imagination.”

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi recently held a consultative meeting with members of the National Assembly and the Senate from Western Kenya.

The gathering, which brought together lawmakers from the Azimio and Kenya Kwanza coalitions, discussed and agreed on unity of purpose and the region’s social-economic development.

“[Mr] Mudavadi brought the entire Luhya nation together and that was regarded as unity of purpose. But when leaders from the mountain meet, that is perceived with a lot of suspicion,” said Mr Kega, who was nominated to the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA).

“We are not meeting for political reasons but for the best interests of the people of Mt Kenya.”

The region’s bargaining strength at the national decision-making table is anchored on Mr Gachagua, said Mr Githigaro Wachira, a former candidate for the Tetu parliamentary seat who ran under Jubilee but lost.

Mr Wachira appealed to the region’s leaders to come together for unity of purpose.

“Our bargaining strength will now come from our unity. We should belabour what brings us together. We should rally behind the DP so that we can get that bargaining ground. Let us not stick to political hangovers and come together for unity of purpose,” he said.

“Now that politics are over, we need to come together because of our numerical strength as a region. Personally, I was vying for the Jubilee party, which is under the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya alliance. I lost the seat but not the vision. Rigathi, being the senior-most leader in the Mt Kenya region, we need to support him.”

Mr Kega has lauded the DP for supporting him to clinch the EALA slot that sparked a rift among Mt Kenya leaders in Parliament during voting.

“I am on record affirming that the Deputy President played a critical role in ensuring that I got that seat. I must confess that it was not easy because of the different interests that were there, but Rigathi and the rest of the mountain stood with me,” Mr Kega said.

The DP recently declared that his quest to unite the region under one political roof and mentor young political leaders was unstoppable.

He said he would ensure that those who had “strayed” into the Azimio formation would be back by December 31.

He took on Mr Kenyatta for allegedly failing to mentor young leaders from the area and instead “muzzled” those who aspired for leadership positions.

He asked leaders in the region to be united, set aside their political differences and work together for the region’s development.

“As I have said before, politics is now over and it is time to serve the people. During the just concluded elections, Azimio had 13 percent of votes in this region and we will reach out to professionals, business people and politicians who had gone astray,” Mr Gachagua said.

“I have talked to many of them and they have told me they were intimidated and coerced into joining Azimio and are ready to return to the fold.”

Mr Gachagua, who was addressing congregants at the Karatina Catholic church in Mathira constituency during a thanksgiving service, said the Kenya Kwanza administration was focused on delivering on its promises and uniting the country.

He called for Mt Kenya to be united regardless of political affiliation, while criticising Mr Kenyatta and claiming that he had failed to mentor up-and-coming leaders leaving the region without a clear successor.

“The previous leader did not mentor our younger leaders and some of us who tried to raise our heads were met with harassment and intimidation,” he said.

“One of my roles now is to mentor young leaders. That is why you will be seeing me moving around accompanied by young politicians.”