The Nation has learnt that a low-key State House meeting a fortnight ago happened at the request of the traders, who are backing the 2013 State House hopeful to unseat Governor Evans Kidero.
Senator Mike Sonko, MPs Johnson Sakaja, Denis Waweru and Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, who have christened themselves the “Nairobi Four” are on the warpath against Mr Kenneth, whom they accuse of being a “lone-ranger and seeking to be treated as a super aspirant”.
A push by city businesspeople with roots in Central Kenya to have President Uhuru Kenyatta endorse former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth for Nairobi governor seat is the genesis of political fireworks in Jubilee.
The quartet has made a pact not to allow “any outsider” to run away with the seat, with claims that Mr Kenneth is favoured by a clique around Mr Kenyatta further jolting them.
In retaliation, the Nairobi Four have decided to muddy the waters, hoping that Mr Kenyatta will be dissuaded from whipping them into supporting Mr Kenneth.
Jubilee officials we spoke to said they were aware of the danger of allowing the simmering differences to spill over to the main elections, saying it could dampen their chances of denying Governor Kidero a second term in office.
A senior city MP who was part of the delegation confided to us that Mr Kenyatta will soon host all the aspirants for an amicable settlement that will see them share out the seats. Deputy President William Ruto has publicly stated that they would prefer consensus to eliminate a fallout.
Before that, Mr Kenyatta, we understand, is not expected to publicly throw his weight behind Mr Kenneth’s ticket as this would send the wrong signal, following his promise not to interfere with the process of picking aspirants ahead of the August 8 polls.
On Saturday, Jubilee Party vice chairman David Murathe said nominations would be used to break the stalemate. “If they are unable to agree on some line-up, then the people will decide. What we don’t want is a move that will hand our opponents an advantage over us,” he said.
The Nairobi Four lament that it would be unfair to have them shelve their ambition for “a late comer” like Mr Kenneth, yet they have already splurged millions of shillings to popularise their bids.
Were the Nairobi candidate to be decided through consensus, we are told, they would ask for a refund of cash spent or a form of compensation.
The scenario has created an unlikely alliance between the four, who despite aspiring for the coveted seat are collectively fighting off any new aspirant deemed to be a threat.
During the launch of Jubilee membership cards recently at Kasarani, Mr Sonko reiterated the “outsider” and “preferred candidate” tags, a script that has now become familiar in the race for the Jubilee ticket in the city.
“In Jubilee, there is no preferred candidate. Let us not spoil our politics since everyone in the field is a loyal candidate of Jubilee. People should stop using the name of the President wrongly,” he said in a veiled reference to Mr Kenneth.
“Nairobi is bigger than Sonko, than all the candidates. I have united with the ones I came in with – Wanjiru, Waweru and Sakaja – because we have been leaders in Nairobi for ages. If there is any other candidate, let him join the team. But we won’t accept any leader brought from outside,” he said.
Mr Kenneth has come out guns-blazing, hoping to brush off the outsider tag.
“The people labelling me an outsider have lived in the city for a shorter time than I. I was born and raised in Eastlands; I schooled in Nairobi and I have worked here my entire life. I have lived in the city longer than all of them,” he says.
Of the 47 governors’ seats that are up for grabs in the upcoming polls, Nairobi has so far had the most intriguing twists and turns on Jubilee’s side. That two aspirants came and left the scene brusquely is a pointer to a vicious competition and elbowing. All this is expected to intensify with the clock fast ticking to the General Election.
First came former Devolution minister Anne Waiguru. Her ambition for the coveted seat hardly lasted two months before she shifted base to Kirinyaga, under a heavy cloud of the National Youth Service scandal.
Water and Irrigation boss Eugene Wamalwa then sauntered in and has since gone mute on his aspiration to run for the seat. His close associates say that, like Ms Waiguru, he could be headed to Trans Nzoia County.
“Waziri (the minister) has three options up his sleeves. While he wants to be Nairobi governor, the people of Trans Nzoia are also on his case to consider shifting base there. There is also the third option,” his aide, Mr Kizito Themba, told the Nation.
What is evident from such a statement is a general indecisiveness, which does not lend itself to gubernatorial ambitions. The fact that he did not attend a meeting of politicians from the city at the Deputy President’s home in Karen two Wednesdays ago may also put him out of the picture.
It also emerged that the four politicians almost came to blows in front of the Deputy President at the Wednesday meeting after it emerged that a plot had been hatched to endorse one gubernatorial aspirant in a boardroom deal.
The fireworks at Mr Ruto’s home preceded a meeting with more than 500 Nairobi Jubilee aspirants and opinion leaders.
According to Mr Ruto, the next meeting at his Karen home will be to unveil a line up, preferably by February 1. “You must have a Nairobi line-up that accommodates other communities,” said Mr Ruto.
Mr Waweru noted: “All along, all of us have been preparing for nominations. It is the most legitimate process to pick a candidate. We shall be consulting more widely with the party leadership”.
Like Mr Waweru, Mr Sakaja denied being part of the plot to isolate the former Gatanga MP.
“We want everyone to be part of the process that has been going on. What we cannot encourage is a lone ranger approach that may jeopardise Jubilee’s chances of winning the seat,” he said.
Seen as a Johnny-come-lately, Mr Kenneth who defected from Federal Party of Kenya to join Jubilee recently, is facing accusations of not working together with his colleagues.
Starehe MP Maina Kamanda, whom Jubilee will be relying on to help arrive at a consensus among the aspirants for governor, asked the four aspirants to embrace Mr Kenneth.
“Any governor aspirant who wants the Jubilee ticket in Nairobi and is forming a cartel to lock out anyone else is a coward. We shouldn’t be seen as fighting any aspirant. Let us tolerate each other,” he said.
But in reference to Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, his erstwhile opponent and one of the governor contenders, Mr Kamanda said: “Some came from Cord just the other day and we welcomed them. What should be so hard to incorporate Mr Kenneth also? Jubilee is like the Church of Christ, where all and sundry are welcome”.
Additional reporting by Faith Nyamai.