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Citizen Weekly

Sunday 31 August 2014


There has never been a by-election victory in the history of Kenyan voting like Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero’s triumph on Friday, August 29, 2014.

It pleased all sides – across the political divide. Dr Kidero was congratulated by every substantive leader worth his or her name, in most parties, coalitions, alliances and affiliations, including the ruling Jubilee.

Cord leader Raila Odinga swiftly decided to be seen to be part of the victory celebrations and was there in court in person, embracing the Governor, holding hands with him and putting on his most brilliant, high-wattage smile for him.

This is how any party leader worth his weight in gold congratulates his party’s biggest single financial benefactor when the occasion arises. Kidero is the man who crosses ODM and Cord’s palms with gold whenever seriously large sums are needed.

And to be seen to be out to honour his campaign pledges, analysts say, Kidero has to move with speed and reshuffle his finance department, enforcement unit that has allowed hawkers have free operations in city streets and, of course the revenue collection department. The county secretary office is also mentioned in passing.

Across the political aisle in Jubilee, there was quiet celebration too, including in the corridors of real power.
One of the surest signs that Jubilee had reconciled itself to Kidero’s survival and resurgence was the fact that his opponent, the abrasive Ferdinand Waititu, was also in court, but conspicuously alone. This was in great contrast to the appearances that culminated in the nullification of Kidero’s victory at the Court of Appeal when he used to be escorted by Nairobi senator Mike Sonko and a mob of chanting supporters.

A political figure of Kidero’s cross-cutting, independent, immensely wealthy, charming and networking capabilities have not walked on the political stage from Luo Nyanza for decades.
Inside Cord, there was cheer because a huge benefactor had survived and there would be no capital city by-election. Inside Jubilee, even President Uhuru Kenyatta’s closest strategy and corporate teams were drinking a toast.

 Nairobi county is in a safe pair of hands of a man who understands money, property, investment and the implications of the coming multi-trillion-shilling economy.

A few days before the Supreme Court gave all sides of the political and business class cause to jump for joy, Kidero told a fundraiser in Murang’a county, Central region that he was not a supporter of the proposed Cord referendum.
The last time there was a Luo fundraiser of independent means in the heart of Central was during the late Tom Mboya’s heyday.

Kidero is actually married to Mboya’s daughter, Susan. The same week that Kidero won his Supreme Court verdict, the same court and the same judges that denied Raila victory in 2013,  Nairobi’s First Lady Susan had hosted a women’s and youth empowerment workshop at Laico Regency.

That Kidero’s survivals after a lower court upended his victory against Waititu resonated up and down Kenya is the surest sign that the governor of Nairobi is cutting an extraordinary profile on the national political stage. Kidero is a man to watch, going forward.

The fact that he can be excitedly embraced by Raila the same week he gave the Cord leader’s referendum a thumbs-down is a clear indication of Kidero’s independence of mind and modus operandi. He is said to be one of those whose word Raila does not dismiss easily. In fact, when he decided to go for Nairobi governor’s slot, many in ODM dismissed it as a big joke. A section in the party led by senator Otieno Kajwang even Bishop Margaret Wanjiru were there.

Kidero’s focus on business, massive employment and systems, processes and professionals that deliver stands in the biggest contrast to Raila’s political style. The national capital city is the country’s most cosmopolitan area and will become supremely important when the new economy based on the discovery of oil, gas, coal and water resources kicks in. 

  It matters a great deal that the capital city county CEO be real corporate boardroom material, not a self-made, jumped-up slumlord and garbage collector.
Kidero knows how to deal with historic moments. Savouring his victory, he declared outside the court: “The moment for delivery of my pre-election promises to Nairobi residents has finally dawned.”

Insiders say that Waititu was isolated at the last minute by his allies upon discovery his first lawyer had misled him. In fact, aware he was headed nowhere, Waititu is said to have slapped one of his strategists who had delivered a budget proposal to ferry supporters to Supreme Court. The budget was of Sh500,000. The man in company of three men and two women had to scamper for safety as Waititu with his eyes turned red talking in tongues rained blows on a one Mwangi wa Njungua alias Stimo. Mwangi had to lock himself in a toilet to survive.

The court verdict came just almost a month when Kidero had delivered the Mathare North by - election to Cord. He was the chairman of ODM candidate Steve Kariuki campaign team.
Following the Supreme Court and Mathare North outcome, Kidero has emerged now as the most powerful face in city politics. He is also rated among the most influential politicians in Kenya.
In Nairobi politics, he has due to balancing political acts, won supporters in both government and opposition. Word has it that if the court had ruled in favour of a by- election, Cord was going to back him still and the possibility of winning would still be high.

Currently, in TNA Nairobi, all is not well with key players openly blaming each other for Mathare by- election debacle. Senator Sonko is being blamed by Maina Kamanda’s camp for having failed to deliver the Kamba swing vote to win the seat.

On the other hand, word doing round is that Kikuyus in Nairobi will not back Sonko for any seat again come 2017. They say he received more votes in Nairobi in 2013 than even Uhuru himself by associating with Kikuyu allied party and bringing on his side the Kamba community who voted for him but not Uhuru. Others say Waititu is bitter that Sonko celebrated his defeat in court and has begun scheming to be TNA preferred candidate for governor in 2017.

For now, the eyes are on Kidero again as he embarks on delivering services to city residents. A man who a few months ago was feeling the political heat has re-invented himself through the court ruling and the by-election in Mathare and needs to play his political cards well. In Cord, his detractors led by Kajwang were praying for a by-election to be held. The anti-Kidero camp was out to push for a new candidate and had in mind former MP and 2013 presidential candidate, Peter Kenneth.

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