State House brokers deal for Igathe-Wanyonyi ticket for Nairobi governor seat

Polycarp Igathe

Former Nairobi Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe .

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A State House meeting on Tuesday cleared the way for former Nairobi Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe to be named Azimio-One Kenya Alliance candidate for the Nairobi governor’s seat.

According to sources privy to talks around the alliance’s ticket, the meeting at State House settled on Mr Igathe to fly the Azimio ticket, with Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi asked to deputise him.

One of the sources said the Equity Group Holdings Ltd chief commercial officer emerged as the compromise candidate as part of the Jubilee-ODM pact after Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) President Richard Ngatia fell out of favour with the Jubilee Party top leadership.

“Mr Igathe is even currently holding a meeting with his team at a Nairobi Hotel after the meeting,” said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity as they are not authorised to speak to journalists.

Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi gets clergy’s blessings for top city job

However, the source said that Mr Wanyonyi was not keen to shelve his ambition and play second fiddle to another candidate.

“He says he is not backing down from his bid to be Nairobi’s fourth governor,” said another source.

 Executive Director of Raila Odinga's Azimio La Umoja campaign secretariat Raphael Tuju admitted to ongoing engagements to settle on the coalition’s Nairobi flagbearer but said he was not directly involved.

However, on Mr Igathe’s name popping up as an aspirant for the ticket, he said the ex-Nairobi DG is “a known entity in Nairobi politics and to hear his name is not something out of the ordinary”.

“I have heard his name as well, and he is not a stranger to Nairobi politics, as he was Mike Sonko’s deputy and resigned as a matter of principle, but I don’t know what was agreed upon as the discussions are still going on,” said Mr Tuju.

Addressing the press at his campaign secretariat, Mr Wanyonyi said he was still in the race, but his fate would be decided by the outcome of a boardroom deal set to be announced by tomorrow (Thursday).

Looking crestfallen, the Westlands MP stated that the decision of the coalition will either add weight to him being in the race, or subtract it.

“The coalition I belong to is in consultation and will be issuing a statement very soon about Nairobi. So we will wait for the statement when it comes,” said Mr Wanyonyi.

The two-term lawmaker was adamant that his decision to throw his hat in the race to becoming the fourth governor of the capital city has “never been about me, but about us, and as such, I will listen to the people”.

“Leadership is a calling and throughout my political career, the people I serve have been the backbone of my leadership. It has never been about me. I listen to the people. So we will wait for the communication that will be made soon,” he said as he refused to take any questions from journalists.

The governorship race within Azimio is proving to be hotly contested, attracting a crowded field, with each aspirant insisting they will settle for nothing but the ballot.

This has led to a major headache for the coalition on who to pick among four formidable aspirants -- Governor Ann Kananu, Mr Wanyonyi, Mr Ngatia and businesswoman Agnes Kagure.

 Emerging camps

Whereas Deputy President William Ruto-led Kenya Kwanza Alliance (KKA) has already settled on its line-up for top seats in Nairobi with Senator Johnson Sakaja set to fly the gubernatorial ticket, Azimio has not been able to do so with two camps emerging within the coalition.

On one hand, there is a faction coalescing around Mr Wanyonyi’s candidature while there are those who were fronting Mr Ngatia until Mr Igathe came onto the scene.

“In negotiations, you are asking people for compromise and concessions and it is not easy, especially when people have set their eyes on certain positions and you tell them to adjust a bit. They want the others to adjust in their favour. Every candidate will tell you he is the one with the ground despite poll results and research showing otherwise,” said Mr Tuju.

In the 2017 elections, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee settled on a Sonko-Igathe ticket, in what the party honchos said would have had Mr Igathe run the policy, administration and management of the city county, with Mr Sonko doing the political legwork and grounding. But it was not to be.

Mr Sonko soon shunned Mr Igathe, demanding that he be treated as his deputy and not somewhat of an equal.

Mr Sonko felt that having been the bearer of the hundreds of thousands of votes -- 871,794 against Dr Evans Kidero’s 696,888 — it was unfair to relegate him to only dealing with the political noise, and not the actual running of the county.

In January 2018, barely five months after being sworn in, Mr Igathe quit, saying he had not earned the trust of Mr Sonko to run the administration and management of the county that receives the highest allocation annually from the national government, and collects the highest revenues every year.