Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko said on Sunday nothing will stop him from gunning for the Jubilee Party ticket in his bid to be the city’s next governor.
This came as Deputy President William Ruto was holed up at Jubilee headquarters for hours and the party’s Nairobi County primaries postponed to Wednesday with insiders saying the leadership was not leaving anything to chance.
Mr Ruto was said to have arrived at the party offices at Pangani, Nairobi, in the morning, unexpectedly and without his motorcade.
He went straight into a closed-door meeting.
Separately, Mr Sonko’s main rival for the ticket, 2013 presidential candidate and former Gatanga Member of Parliament Peter Kenneth, asked Nairobi voters to nominate leaders “wisely”, saying this was the only chance they had of having their preferred candidate on the ballot.
Mr Sonko, who was accompanied by several aspirants — among them Embakasi East MP aspirant Francis Mureithi, who decamped from the Kenneth camp to support the flamboyant senator — said: “I am recruiting over 1,000 youths and women from across all the 17 constituencies of Nairobi to be part of my anti-rigging team.
“They will be distributed across all the polling stations.”
The ‘team’ gathered at Uhuru Park to show support to Mr Sonko, who claimed that some aspirants planned to rig the polls.
Nairobi has over 360 polling stations with two streams each.
Mr Mureithi said: “I have realised that the person to help Nairobi people, if elected as governor, is Mr Sonko.”
Mr Ruto’s meeting with the party’s election officials was to ensure the repeat primaries starting on Monday in Baringo, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Nandi and Bomet counties in Rift Valley, as well as Kirinyaga in Mt Kenya region, are above board.
“He has been around for more than five hours now,” said a source that declined to be named.
“Things are not good. He is unhappy that the party, which had assured Kenyans that it would deliver credible results, is being put to shame.”
There was restricted access to the offices for the duration of the DP’s visit although workers of transporters cleared to ferry ballot papers to polling stations loaded their lorries in the basement.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has set Thursday as the last day for party primaries this year.
CLASH OF VENUES
Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju said the decision was taken to avoid a clash of venues with other political parties.
Addressing a press conference in Nairobi earlier, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati asked parties to avoid such clashes.
“In view of possible security incidents that may arise from holding primaries on the same date in Nairobi with ODM, the commission directs ODM to proceed with their nominations on April 25 and Jubilee conducts theirs on April 26,” said Mr Chebukati after meeting representatives of 14 political parties to discuss the status of the primaries.
Mr Tuju said Jubilee was all set for the primaries: “We have printed new ballot papers, especially in areas where they were breached last week.”
Addressing the congregation at Prayers Beyond Boundaries Ministries church in Ngara, where he amazed the faithful by starting off with a hymn, Mr Kenneth urging voters to turn out in large numbers and keep the peace.
He exuded confidence that he would be the Jubilee candidate to remove the incumbent, Dr Evans Kidero, whom he accused of having failed the city.
“You must participate in nominations to have those leaders you want or you will have limited choices come the time for the General Election,” said Mr Kenneth, who was accompanied by Embakasi MP James Gakuya.
Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, the third aspirant in the Jubilee race for the city gubernatorial ticket, asked her Jesus Is Alive Ministries church faithful to pray for her as she faces the two men.
“Let us pray that Nairobi will have peaceful elections and that the party primaries will be free and fair,” said Bishop Wanjiru.
DISHING OUT MONEY
Last week, a video showing her dishing out money to supporters went viral on social media.
Meanwhile, Jubilee aspirants for the Dagoretti South parliamentary seat have accused the incumbent of plotting to rig them out by reportedly using goons to disrupt Wednesday’s nominations.
Mr Dennis Waweru however denied the allegations, saying the claim by his opponents was a sign that they had sensed defeat.
Mr Waweru’s rivals John Kiarie, Gaciku Muhu, Dr Njoki Ndiba and Njogu wa Nguo and more than 15 aspirants for MCA from various wards alleged that the goons had been spending the nights in the CDF Hall in Dagoretti South.
Additional reporting by Brian Moseti, Joseph Openda and Leonard Onyango