I’m uniquely qualified: Waiguru on race to be Kenya’s number two

Deputy President William Ruto receives Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru to UDA at Karen residence, Nairobi County.

Photo credit: Photo | Pool

When President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed Ms Anne Waiguru to his inaugural Cabinet in 2013 in the Ministry of Devolution and Planning, the move raised eyebrows.

Plucked from the National Treasury, not much was known of the 51-year-old when she entered into national limelight at the helm of the key ministry.

But nine years later, the Kirinyaga Governor is in the running to be the second most powerful leader in the country, and the first female at that.

Sharp, eloquent and shrewd, her name has been mentioned as a frontrunner in the race to be Deputy President William Ruto’s running mate.

To her supporters, Ms Waiguru ticks three main boxes: the gender card, being from the vote rich Mt Kenya region and her ability to rally people exemplified by her defeat of the more seasoned Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua in the 2017 gubernatorial contest.

With Dr Ruto looking for a strong political partner to power his candidature and deliver votes, Ms Waiguru is seen as the best bet to form a formidable ticket.

This as the Kenya Kwanza Alliance leader is being urged to face the mountain lest he leaves his main opponent, ODM party leader Raila Odinga, to overrun him in the region. Mt Kenya’s 10 counties have nearly have 5.8 million votes. And women constitute the largest percentage of the Kenyan population.

One of Ms Waiguru’s supporters is Nairobi Woman Rep hopeful Millicent Omanga. “We are breaking the glass ceiling in this election. The first female deputy president loading,” she said.

Just last week, a group of women under the aegis of the Kirinyaga People’s Forum, drummed up support for the first term governor.

“We know DP Ruto is committed to issues of gender equality; we now ask him to consider our daughter, Waiguru, as his number two because she has all it takes to be Deputy President and as women we also want to be fully represented in government,” said MS Rebecca Muriithi, a member of the group.

This came just a day after more than 600 members of the North Rift Chapter of the Kenya Kwanza Alliance Youth League endorsed her candidature. Led by Beverlyne Chebii, the group said Ms Waiguru brings on board her value as a woman leader, an experienced public servant and transformational leadership.

Ms Waiguru has said she would readily accept to be Dr Ruto’s running mate should she be nominated.

“I have some qualities that make me uniquely qualified. Among other achievements, I have served for over 20 years at senior level in government including both as CS and an elected Governor, with an accomplished record of delivery including Ifmis, Huduma centres and transformation of Kirinyaga County all of which have won local and international recognition and awards,” Ms Waiguru told the Nation. The governor holds a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Nairobi.

Her critics point to the Sh800 million National Youth Service scandal as a blotch on her track record and her relatively young political career as weakness in her quest to be a deputy president.

Political commentator Steve Ogolla posits that picking a woman as running mate is the best bet for Dr Ruto to align with the politics of inclusion that is entrenched in his campaign strategy.

Professor Macharia Munene, points out that Ms Waiguru’s downside could be her strong personality as it could lead to a personality clash with Dr Ruto, who has a similar personality.