There are high expectations among aspirants jostling for Jubilee tickets ahead of today’s unveiling of the list of candidates by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s party following vetting of thousands of applicants.
The party has since Thursday been interviewing applicants eyeing seats in Mt Kenya region and Nairobi.
The interviews that were taking approximately 30 minutes, ended yesterday, and according to sources, results are expected today amid complaints by a section of aspirants who are unhappy with the process.
The interview panels comprises of Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, influential business leaders, former and current State officials, religious leaders and Mt Kenya politicians. The interviews have been taking place Windsor Golf & Country Club.
The interviewing panel is composed of Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, his PS Joseph Njoroge, Interior CAS Winnie Guchu, Communication Authority chair Ngene Gituku, Mt Kenya University chair Simon Gicharu, retired Anglican bishop Peter Njenga, Muthoni Kimani, a retired Solicitor General and former KenGen CEO Eddy Njoroge.
For areas where there were consensus or there is no competition such as Kiambu, Murang’a, Laikipia and Nyeri governor seats, James Nyoro, Jamleck Kamau, Governor Ndiritu Muriithi and Senator Ephraim Maina respectively will be issued with direct tickets.
Jubilee has already issued tickets to Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja, Taveta MP Naomi Shaban who is seeking re-election and Voi’s Jones Mlolwa, Mt Kenya Colleges and Universities Students Association chairman Steve Chege who is the Laikipia Senate aspirant, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria’s bother Alloise Kinyanjui is the Juja candidate, preacher David Ngari, alias Gakuyo, has been picked as the Thika Town MP candidate.
The party is reported to have opted for consensus and interviews to avoid fallouts and to avert a situation where Deputy President William Ruto’s UDA supporters would engage in the process with instructions to pick weaker candidates who will easily be floored in the August elections.
Among questions in the interviews were the number of voters in the electoral area where one is contesting, their strengths, past leadership roles and an explanation of the tactics one would use to win should they get the ticket.
According to sources, besides consensus, Jubilee is relying on opinion polls.
“Where the aspirants fail to agree on who among them will be the flag bearer, the party is being guided by the polls,” a source told People Daily yesterday.
Yesterday, sources said Kiambu Woman Rep aspirants, who include psychologist Gladys Chania, late minister Mbiyu Koinange’s daughter Lenah Koinange and lawyer Nyokabi Kinyanjui appeared before a panel chaired by Ngene.
Senate aspirants-former Nyoro’s head of service delivery Eng John Mugwe, Limuru politician George Maara, Dominic Gicheru, who served as county Chief Officer for Public Administration during William Kabogo’s tenure and Elizabeth Kimani, who was Nyoro’s running mate in 2013, were interviewed on Saturday.
Yesterday, Mugwe defended the method saying that it helped candidates reduce the financial burden of nominations.
“Consensus… cuts down infiltration from other parties since in the physical nominations, people from other parties can participate with instructions to vote for weaker candidates,” said Mugwe.
For example, Mugwe says, a county can have 1,900 polling stations and an aspirant eying a county seat will be required to have agents in all the centres, cater for their training and accreditation.
Among the areas to watch is Nyandarua, where Jubilee will have to decide between former Water Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki and incumbent Francis Kimemia and Kirinyaga, where Woman Rep Wangui Ngirici, Senator Charles Kibiru and Deputy Governor Peter Ndambiri want the governor ticket.
While Wangui insists she is an independent candidate, sources say she is still in the ruling party and has demanded a direct ticket while Kibiru and Ndambiri insist on nominations.
Journalist Felix Njenga, popularly known as Njenga Reporter, who is eying the Kiambu Township Ward seat, said the interviews were conducted by an able panel that did not have preferred candidates.
“I believe I performed well since I have campaigned throughout the ward. The Jubilee party will be in the next government and I believe there is a silent majority that is supporting the party. I have no doubt that Jubilee will bag most seats, Kiambu township being one of them,” said Njenga.
Murang’a senate seat pits former Senator Kembi Gitura and Peter Kagwanja while in Kangema, the battle is between incumbent Muturi Kigano and George Kibuku. In Mathioya MP Peter Kimari is in a tight race with businessman Johnson Kihato.
In Kiambaa constituency, the party has to decide between businessman Kariri Njama, who narrowly lost in last year’s by-election, and former Kiambu County Director of Liaison Damaris Waiganjo.
But not all are exited about the process.
Kagwanja is against calls for him and Gitura to agree on who will take the ticket.
Stanley Kamau, a campaigner for Kagwanja, said the panel was gathering information from administration officers, which he said may not be accurate.
“We are sending an appeal to the President to take over the issue and give proper direction about it,” he said.
Kinoo MCA Samuel Wanjiku, Benson Njenga, Stephen Gathitu, Joseph Njogu and Franck Mwaura, who are eying the ticket for Kikuyu parliamentary seat, have criticised the process after their competitor Owen Ndun’gu, who vied against Kimani Ichung’wa in 2013, appeared to be a shoo-in after opinion polls ranked him top.
“We strongly doubt the accuracy and integrity of the ratings. The rating ranked one Owen Ndung’u… top which is a total contradiction of the reality on the ground,” they said in a statement.