Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja will be seeking the United Democratic Alliance ticket to run for the Nairobi governor’s seat in the August elections, setting the stage for a brutal battle with Bishop Margaret Wanjiru who has been the face of the party in the city.
Sakaja yesterday confirmed he was a member of Deputy President William Ruto’s UDA and will be fully participating in the party’s nominations on April 14.
It was earlier thought he had joined the Amani National Congress party led by former Vice-President Musalia Mudavadi after leaving Jubilee, but yesterday he dismissed the speculation, saying he was getting ready for a face-off with Wanjiru.
“When did I join ANC? I was in Jubilee and when I left I went straight to UDA. We are now gearing up for nominations on April 14,” he told the People Daily.
Sakaja, one of the front-runners in the quest to become the next city boss, has been hobnobbing with Mudavadi in recent months and even yesterday he was with Mudavadi when the ANC boss hosted grassroots leaders from Lang’ata, Dagoretti South and Kibra constituencies.
“We continue to listen to the people as we chart the way forward for our country and the great county of Nairobi. Their resolve is clear. The vision is strong. Our match is unstoppable,” Sakaja said after the meeting.
Sakaja’s entry into UDA presents a fresh headache to the DP, who has this week focused on brokering deals between rival aspirants in a bid to avert bitter fallouts within his outfit and Kenya Kwanza Alliance. Wanjiru and Sakaja accompanied Ruto in the DP’s vote forays across the city recently and he ensured both spoke during the events.
A recent poll by Trends and Insights for Africa indicated that Sakaja enjoyed a more favourable support than Wanjiru although the survey found more city dwellers were yet to decide who to vote for.
The poll established that the first-term senator would win the governor’s race with 23 per cent support while Wanjiru had four per cent. Wanjiru, however, has obtained support from some city politicians, including former Law Society of Kenya President Nelson Havi, who have said she deserves to lead the county. “As the larger Western Kenya community that votes here in Nairobi, we have unanimously resolved to put our support behind Bishop Margaret Wanjiru for the candidature of the governor of Nairobi,” Havi said recently.
Yesterday, Wanjiru said she was ready to face off with Sakaja in the nominations. She, however, expressed concern that there were people within Kenya Kwanza, who were plotting to frustrate her campaigns. “Yes, I am aware that he is in UDA and he is just coming to spoil (for me). Let him know that I am ready to face him in the nominations. Nitamfunza vile siasa za Nairobi zinafanywa (I will teach him how Nairobi politics is done),” a bullish Wanjiru told People Daily.
Acknowledging the recent pact between Ruto and Mudavadi, the former Starehe MP said nothing would stop her from going for the governor’s seat.
“Who does not know that I was the first person to declare that I will vie for Nairobi on UDA? I have been active on the ground consolidating my base. Some of the individuals you are hearing that are vying for governor are just clueless, they do not know what they want in life,” she said.
Differences between the two have intensified recently and have occasionally degenerated into shouting matches.
Recently, they clashed in the presence of Mudavadi and Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetangula during a rally in the city.
Some of his close allies confirmed Sakaja had already paid UDA’s nomination fee.
“He paid in the last days before the exercise. He has decided to keep a low profile about it but as you know Sakaja is a schemer, he is working behind the scenes,” the source told People Daily on condition of anonymity.
Ruto is said to be brokering a truce between the duo, as he has been doing with other stiff contests involving key Kenya Kwanza alliance members.
Last month Sakaja, said the UDA-ANC pact would be perfect for his candidature.
The vocal senator said he was ready for any nomination route expressing confidence in his support base.
“They might decide to let us do nominations. I am ready for that,” he said.
Already, Wanjiru has settled on Hospital Hill Ward Patrick Musili as her deputy, a key strategy she says will help her clinch the Kamba vote.
Others who have declared interest to succeed Governor Anne Kananu are Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi, busness woman Agnes Kagure and Kenya National Chamber of Industrt (KNCCI) president Richard Ngatia, all who are seeking the Azimio La Umoja ticket alongside Kananu.
The city experiences unstable stint since the ouster of former Governor Mike Sonko.