Mt Kenya kingpin? DP Rigathi Gachagua, Ndindi Nyoro supremacy battle intensifies

Rigathi Gachagua

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua (left) and Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Tussle between the two forces has brought to the fore what appears to be a building-up rebellion against the deputy president.
  • On Thursday, over 15 UDA lawmakers endorsed the Kiharu MP to succeed President William Ruto in 2032.
  • Gachagua also fighting an implosion brought about by former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga in his sensational claim to area kingship.

Political supremacy battles in Mt Kenya region have started to peak with two strong wings emerging--one led by Deputy President (DP) Rigathi Gachagua and the other by Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro.

The two politicians have been shadow-boxing for control of the region’s political soul through their allies for the last couple of months.

But on Thursday, their fight threatened to explode after Mr Nyoro brought together a total of 18 United Democratic Alliance (UDA) leaders, who proceeded to endorse him to succeed President William Ruto in 2032.

The endorsement by the UDA MPs largely drawn from Mt Kenya, was a clearest indication yet that the second term MP is ready to take Mr Gachagua head on in his quest to be the region’s kingpin and to position himself as potential presidential candidate when President Ruto exits.

While in Mumbi grounds to launch an education subsidy programme that will see 62 day secondary school learners pay Sh1,000 per term and similar amount for remedial bills, Mr Nyoro was endorsed for 2032 presidential elections.

Some of the leaders present at the event where Mr Nyoro was hailed as having a bright future of succeeding Dr Ruto included Murang’a Senator Joe Nyutu, MPs Betty Maina (Murang’a), John Kaguchia (Mukurweni), Josses Lelmengit (Emgwen), Jematiah Sergon (Baringo), Paul Mwirigi (Igembe South), Didmas Barasa (Kimilili), Shurie Omar (Balambala), Fred Ikana (Shinyalu), Elijah Kururi (Gatundu North), Paul Biego (Chesumei) and Ann Wamuratha (Kiambu).

Others were MPs Patrick Munene (Igambang’ombe), Edwin Mugo (Mathioya), Eric Muchang (Runyenjes), Njoki Njeru (Embu), Dorice Donya (Kisii) and former nominated MP Wilson Sossion.

The tussle between the two forces has brought to the fore what appears to be a building up rebellion against Mr Gachagua, who is also fighting an implosion brought about by former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga in his sensational claim to area kingship.

Mr Gachagua believes that his position as the country’s second-in-command should automatically elevate him to succeed President Ruto as the region’s kingpin.

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But some political players say being the DP cannot win him the region’s acceptability.

Senator Nyutu says “positions do not win one direct endorsement since there are other considerations to winning unanimous acceptability”.

“Someone who knows how to measure his/her spoken word and deliberately gets out of way to build bridges. That person to me is Nyoro. Mt Kenya cannot afford to be in the hands of a condescending leader who goes about disparaging other leaders’ names to higher authorities instead of uniting them into a fortress for future strategy,” says Mr Nyutu.

During the Thursday meeting Mr Kururi told locals to back Mr Nyoro’s ambitions since “the region does not have any other leader.”

Ms Donya said that Mr Nyoro has a greater potential to succeed President Ruto and asked Mt Kenya region to rally behind him.

But Mathira MP Eric Wamumbi who is a close ally of Mr Gachagua described what is happening in the region as normal political talk.

“We are not experiencing any contest here, it is normal political talk of planning for the future, for now we have Mr Gachagua as the kingpin until 2032,” he says.

He notes that beyond President Ruto’s two terms, “we can now look around for a successor among ourselves and Mr Nyoro being endorsed for 2032 is normal since others including myself can also pitch for the job, but of course Gachagua being the frontrunner.”

Kikuyu Council of Elders Chairman Wachira Kiago insisted that “all these tussles you are seeing around are by politicians seeking to replace Mr Kenyatta as the kingpin”.

“For this moment of time, the spokesman of Mt Kenya region is Mr Kenyatta and there are no immediate plans to replace him”.

But Cultural Board of Kenya chairman Kung’u Muigai disagrees with Mr Kiago.

“You cannot be in your right political senses and you are following Kenyatta. You will follow a retired president to take you where? To his home? Electoral politics are about ambitions. Anyone else yes, but not Kenyatta who will never contest any political seat in his remaining life,” he said.

“There is lots of wisdom in sticking with Mr Gachagua since he is the most senior person in our Mt Kenya politics now. We cannot afford to lose focus and start putting narrow and individualistic interests ahead of the common good,” said Nyeri governor Mutahi Kahiga.

Mr Kahiga said “the task we have is that of bargaining for our people in this government that we emphatically own. We cannot afford sideshows when we have Mr Gachagua as the president’s constitutionally recognised principal assistant”.

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza believes that “currently what we have is our government with a president that we voted for so willingly’.

“Ruto has so far steered Mt Kenya politics seamlessly by having faith in its political structures, he respects his deputy, works well with the rest of us, has trusted those from this region in his Cabinet and infighting are our own defeatist creations,” she said.

“We are fighting too many battlefronts. Our president is being fought and sabotaged and our supporters are getting impatient. Our duty is to help the President remain focused, spread optimism in the country and respect each other’s space,” said Naivasha MP Jane Kihara said.

She said there is no leadership vacuum in Mt Kenya region and the country at large.

But former Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri has different view.

“The problem is of some of us who want to thrive on false narratives that they singlehandedly helped the president win Mt Kenya vote, hence using it as a leverage to be worshipped by others.”

Mr Ngunjiri demanded that Mr Gachagua ceases creating a situation of exchanging differing words in public.

Mr Ngunjiri revealed how his tears, those of Mr Nyoro and Pastor Dorcas Rigathi moved Ruto to pick Gachagua as his running mate.

“I chaired the Karen meeting where we made a plea to Dr Ruto to appoint him as the running mate. We cried tears pleading for his case to Dr Ruto who was under immense pressure to pick Kithure Kindiki as the running mate,” Mr Ngunjiri said.

He added: “But once he got into power, he started sidelining those who pleaded for his case to Ruto”.

“Gachagua did not necessarily mobilise Mt Kenya voters to vote for Dr Ruto. Dr Ruto had befriended the region, became proximate and became a reliable figure to help the region ‘avenge’ politics of deceit and capture that then President Kenyatta was perceived to be executing”.

“These claims that someone made us vote for Ruto are not true,” he said.