Ngilu casts aside setbacks ahead of gubernatorial duel

Former Lands and Housing Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu is leaving nothing to chance in her spirited bid to win the Kitui gubernatorial race.

Mrs Ngilu, who hit the campaign trail early last year after falling out with Jubilee leadership, has been criss-crossing the vast county addressing a series of charged rallies promising quick devolution results.

Her decision to run for Governor was perhaps the only viable political option in the hard choices she had to make in reviving her political career, which took a downturn following defeat in last election and her subsequent sacking from cabinet.

Having been the first woman presidential candidate in Kenya in the 1997 General Election, Mrs Ngilu’s fortunes in national politics have since diminished but a win in the August 8 General Election will certainly give her a new lease of political life.

Mrs Ngilu is keen to correct the political mistakes that saw her lose the senatorial contest in 2013 to Kitui Senator David Musila, and that explains why she embarked on early campaigns.

Until her loss to Mr Musila, the former minister has in the past survived great political odds to serve as the Kitui Central MP for a record 20 uninterrupted years but another loss would further halt her career.

If Mrs Ngilu is elected Governor, that would be the highest political office she has ever occupied and will therefore get a chance to implement the socialist policies she has been advocating all through.

She knows that her candidacy must surmount a huge political test of dislodging the dominant Wiper party from Kitui politics by defeating the incumbent Julius Malombe and Mr Musila, an independent candidate who is equally strong.

To overcome this, she has in a clever way joined hands with her long-time political rival Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka to jointly push for the Kamba community’s stake in national politics.


The Narc party leader also threw her weight behind the Opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his running mate Mr Musyoka and has been campaigning with them outside Kitui County.

This has served to elevate her into the status of a “Nasa principal” and significantly stifled the political hostility she encountered from Wiper party in the 2013 elections.

Her involvement in Nasa presidential campaigns in Kakamega, Nairobi, Makueni and Nakuru has also gagged Mr Musyoka and his partners against antagonising her Kitui gubernatorial bid because she is one of them anyway.

According to Dr Wathe Nzau, their expectation is that Nasa leadership will reciprocate her support by allowing her to compete on equal footing with Wiper candidate Dr Malombe.

“We all belong to Nasa family and as a national figure Mrs Ngilu has been active in presidential campaigns and even rooting for Mr Musyoka to consolidate the Ukambani vote” Dr Nzau, a veterinary doctor, said.

He told Saturday Nation that Mr Musyoka should therefore let Kitui people decide freely the governor contest because a win for Mrs Ngilu would be as good to Nasa coalition as for Dr Malombe.


In Kitui however her political dalliance with Mr Musyoka is seen as a clever scheme to benefit from the Kalonzo brand by putting herself on a non-confrontational level with Wiper candidates.

The new found political unity is being seen with suspicion within Wiper ranks because Mrs Ngilu is in direct competition with Dr Malombe whom they hail from the same Kitui Central constituency.

To Malombe supporters, the Narc leader is a spoiler who stands in the way to his second term in office, by staking claim to Wiper party’s dominance in the region to her advantage.

But Mrs Ngilu says their unity is part of bigger national agenda and she is working with Mr Musyoka like they did in 2002 under Narc government to reshape the community’s political destiny.

She says the 2013 elections were a great political tragedy for the Kamba community as the two senior most politicians were both defeated at the ballot, despite being on different sides of political divide.

“We may have differed with Kalonzo before but for the first time since independence, the Kamba community doesn’t have a strong voice at the cabinet level or sufficient representation in top government positions,” she said.


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