Ngilu out of Kitui race, eyeing state job


Azimio flag bearer Raila Odinga (right), Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka (second left),  Narc leader Charity Ngilu and Muungano’s Kivutha Kibwana at a rally in Mukuru Kwa Njenga, Nairobi. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The move is expected to throw wide open the Kitui governorship race, which has already intensified.

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition presidential candidate Raila Odinga on Wednesday announced that he had offered Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu a big position in the government he is seeking to form, as he moved to end the sibling rivalry that has rocked the coalition.

Consequently, he said, Ms Ngilu will not be defending her seat in the August 9 General Election.

"You will decide between (former Governor Julius) Malombe and (former Senator David) Musila who will be your governor. I want to take Mama to Nairobi," Mr Odinga said yesterday, while campaigning at Mutha township in Kitui County.

The announcement sparked celebrations from, among others, Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua, Dr Malombe and Kitui South MP Rachael Kaki, who were present.

The move by Mr Odinga, according to analysts, comes as a big relief to Ms Ngilu, who was facing stiff competition from Dr Malombe of Wiper, Mr Musila of Jubilee and former Nairobi Deputy Governor Jonathan Mueke of United Democratic Alliance (UDA).

Long before Mr Odinga’s declaration, Ms Ngilu had sparked speculation that she was contemplating dropping out of the race.

A month ago, on the sidelines of a meeting between aspirants for various seats at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Narc party leader indicated that she was seeking a seat in the national government.

She had vowed to team up with Mr Musila to teach Dr Malombe and Mr Mueke a lesson.

In Kitui town on Wednesday, however, Ms Ngilu joined Mr Odinga and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka in holding Dr Malombe’s hands in a move celebrated by the Wiper fraternity as an endorsement of the former governor, whose candidacy is contested and is the subject of a case before the IEBC dispute tribunal.

Ms Ngilu, who was accompanied by her deputy Wathe Nzau, did not comment on the announcement by Mr Odinga.

Health and water minister

Ms Ngilu, a former health and water minister who ran for President in 2017, sits in the President Uhuru Kenyatta-led Azimio Coalition Council, the outfit’s highest decision making organ.

Ms Ngilu, however, joined Mr Musyoka and her Makueni counterpart, Prof Kivutha Kibwana, in drumming up support for Mr Odinga in the region that voted overwhelmingly for him in the 2013 and 2017 general elections.

“The bandit menace along the Tana River border is a top priority that Mr Odinga has promised to sort out once and for all together with alleviation of water scarcity in the region through rain water harvesting. We are safe with Baba," she said referring to him by his nickname.

Mr Odinga further promised to enhance devolution by devolving more funds to the counties as he rallied Ukambani behind his presidential bid.

He pledged tarmac roads and mega water projects in the region if he is elected president. He moved to protect small parties in Azimio from cannibalism from the bigger members of the coalition.

“We are all walking together as Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition. Our coalition brings together 26 parties; Wiper, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Jubilee, Narc, Narc-Kenya and many others.

Although Martha Karua and I are running on an Azimio ticket, our supporters are running under various tickets. They all belong to us.

We want all of them to compete. However, we shall urge the weak candidates to step aside and seek other opportunities. What we want is Azimio to deliver as many seats as possible," he said, ending widespread speculation that the coalition has a soft spot for Wiper candidates in the region.

In the move to end sibling rivalry in Azimio, Mr Odinga read from the same script as Mr Musyoka, who on Sunday received widespread criticism for attempting to compel former State House Chief of Staff Nzioka Waita out of the Machakos governorship race as he campaigned for former Transport Chief Administrative Secretary Wavinya Ndeti, the Wiper candidate.

“All the Azimio candidates seeking various seats are brothers and sisters and as such they should compete. The voters will get an opportunity to pick their leaders democratically," Mr Musyoka said at Mutomo township.