Tharaka Nithi County Wiper gubernatorial candidate Mr Nyamu Kagwima’s running mate, Mr Jonnes Munene, has ditched him and endorsed Jubilee’s Erastus Njoka.
Mr Munene was received by Prof Njoka and the County Jubilee Party leadership at Tharaka University on Friday during the event to celebrate the promotion of the institution from a university college.
He said he decided to leave Mr Kagwima, who is the current Tharaka Nithi deputy governor, after realising that they would not win because they had very small support.
“From today I have dropped from the race as Mr Kagwima’s running mate for the next week's polls and endorsed Prof Njoka because he is the one who has high chance of winning,” said Mr Munene.
The endorsement of Prof Njoka comes just two days after Narc-Kenya gubernatorial candidate, Dr Mzalendo Kibunjia’s running mate Micheni Ruriani, also dropped his bid and supported the former Chuka University Vice Chancellor.
Mr Ruriani also cited a weak ticket and accused Dr Mzalendo of keeping him off from campaign plans and even failing to answer his calls for almost a month.
Mr Munene said he told Mr Kagwima that they should support Prof Njoka because they had no chances of winning but the former Tharaka Member of Parliament maintained that he must be on the ballot.
“I told Kagwima that because we have no chances of winning the hotly contested seat, we should support Prof Njoka because he is in the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition and is likely to win,” he said.
He added that he also talked to their supporters especially those from his Maara constituency backyard and they all agreed that they should decamp to Prof Njoka.
He noted that Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his running mate Martha Karua had earlier asked the three candidates under the Azimio to support the most popular but Kagwima declined to shelve his ambitions arguing that he was the most popular, especially in Tharaka constituency where he comes from.
The move by Mr Munene and Mr Ruriani is a major boost to Prof Njoka’s campaign and a huge blow to Governor Muthomi Njuki who is seeking re-election on the United Democratic Alliance (UDA).
Others seeking governorship are Mr Gitari Mbiuki (Chama cha Kazi) and Mr Kaugi Mboya (independent).
Prof Njoka and Governor Njuki who are from the same backyard in Chuka/Igambang’ombe constituency are the front runners in the race for the county chief position.
Prof Njoka urged Dr Mzalendo and Kagwima to also join him so that they can easily take over the county leadership and develop it.
“I am ready to work with Dr Mzalendo and Mr Kagwima in my government and that is why I am appealing for their support,” said Prof Njoka.
Tharaka University Vice-Chancellor Prof Kinyua Muriungi, Lands Chief Administrative Secretary Mburi Muiru, Tharaka Nithi County Jubilee Senatorial candidate Paul Mugambi and Tharaka Nithi County The Service Party woman representative candidate Susan Ngugi drummed up support for Prof Njoka.
They said Prof Njoka had the ability to develop the devolved unit that has lagged behind, and urged residents to vote for him.
They also lauded President Uhuru Kenyatta for promoting Tharaka University noting that it will develop the region both academically and economically.
“We will not forget President Kenyatta for the great work that he has done for this county and especially giving us this university,” said Prof Muriungi.
Efforts to get a comment from Mr Kagwina were unsuccessful.