Uncertainty over President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga’s presidency deal has held back campaigns for the capital’s governor seat .
Politicians interested in the senator and governor seats have been keeping their cards close to their chests as they wait for a signal, especially in the Handshake camp.
For a county considered the bedrock of the country’s politics and known for its high-octane politics, the lull in the city is a stark contrast to past trends. With less than 10 months to the General Election, leading politicians in the city would have already began criss-crossing the county by now.
Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna, acting governor Ann Kananu, Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi, former Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru, Makongeni Ward MCA Peter Imwatok and businesswoman Agnes Kagure have previously said they will be running for governor.
Other politicians who have been linked with the top seats are 2013 presidential candidate Peter Kenneth, former Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru and former city council Clerk Philip Kisia.
However, none of the politicians has started campaigns.
Mr Sifuna, who lost to Mr Sakaja in the 2017 Nairobi senatorial race, said the Jubilee and ODM close working arrangement has made it near impossible for any politician, especially from the wing, to start their campaigns.
The President and Mr Odinga working together, he said, meant that there will be some balancing or consensus as part of the joint ticket.
“Nairobi now basically belongs to Raila and President Kenyatta. If you begin your campaigns, then you are told this seat has been left to another person because of consensus between the two political parties, what will you do? ,” Mr Sifuna said.
Mr Sakaja seemed to share some of Mr Sifuna’s sentiments, saying, people are being careful with their politics as they have seen the dynamics rapidly change nationally and they don’t want to make blunders. Further, he said, there are others who are waiting to be endorsed or to be part of a settlement for Nairobi, especially in the Handshake wing.
He said he was yet to start campaigns because he is held up by his senatorial duties. He can’t “stop being a senator and become an aspirant”, he said.
The first-term senator added that he will seek the seat on a Jubilee Party ticket and people should not take his recent dalliance with ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi as an indication that he has ditched the President’s party.
Asked whether he will run for the governor’s seat, Mr Kenneth, who is also eyeing a slot as Mr Odinga’s running mate, said: “Time will tell.”
Ms Kagure said the 2022 General Election being a transition poll in national politics, calls for a political strategy that is in tune with the unfolding political realignments and realities.
“Sometimes measured silence is an asset in politics. A day in politics, as they say, is a long time,” she said.
Mr Wanyonyi has been holding grassroots meetings with his supporters, to consolidate his base before he formally declares his candidature for the ODM ticket early next month.
Bishop Wanjiru is so far the only candidate who has announced she will seek the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) ticket for the city’s governorship. The silence in the UDA’s camp is surprising, too.
Mr Imwatok, a new entrant, said he was waiting for the go-ahead from the electoral commission for party primaries.