Why Jimi Wanjigi fell out with Uhuru

Individuals who attended the book launch of former Agriculture minister Maina Wanjigi’s autobiography, The Shepherd Boy, at the Serena Hotel on December 9, 2013, might not have noticed the side shows that took place.

President Uhuru Kenyatta attended the event. During the launch, one newspaper reported, the President told the combative city lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi, who was among the guests: “Rafiki yangu, vita ni ya nini? Tutafutane tuongee (My friend, what are we fighting about? We should meet and talk).”

On that day, the Nation has learnt, a Nairobi MP walked to the President and informed him that a city law firm was preparing to go to court to stop the construction of the standard gauge railway, whose groundbreaking ceremony had been conducted.

The law firm also wanted the courts to stop Finance Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich from signing a deal with Chinese Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng at State House in Nairobi on May 11, 2014.

This was during the State visit of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

A senior government official who attended the function told the Nation that the President beckoned Vice-President William Ruto and told him: “This man has now crossed the red line!”

It was all about the SGR and an attempt by Mr Jimi Wanjigi, the son of the author of the book being launched, to push for a piece of the Sh327 billion contract.

From then, sources said, the battlelines between Mr Wanjigi and senior Jubilee officials were drawn.

Mr Wanjigi was the mastermind of the flagship project that had been mooted during the time of the grand coalition government, when he was working closely with key figures in that administration.

When the project was faltering in 2008 as the Rift Valley Railways, which operates the old railway, Mr Wanjigi was denied permission to carry out feasibility studies.

He then went to see Prime Minister Raila Odinga, a man he had known for years.

What Mr Wanjigi wanted was for the government to agree on a build, operate and transfer (BOT) agreement and he would approach a Chinese company to carry out the project.

Already, China Road and Bridge Corporation general manager Du Fei had shown interest in the project.

But no sooner had the Jubilee administration got into power than Mr Wanjigi and his henchmen were sidelined.

The BOT agreement also became a loan.

During the Jubilee campaigns of 2012, Mr Wanjigi is said to have made himself useful as a mobiliser for funds, a position he has taken at the Nasa secretariat.

Before that, he had put his hopes on Prof George Saitoti, his confidante.

“When Saitoti died after that air crash, Jimi turned to uniting William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta. He actually brokered the deal,” a source told the Nation.

That could be true since Nasa principal Kalonzo Musyoka confirms in his book that he had initially agreed that he would be the presidential candidate while Mr Kenyatta would be the vice-president.

The entry of Mr Wanjigi changed the matrix.

That happened when Mr Wanjigi arrived in the company of Mr Ruto and Mr Kenyatta at Mr Musyoka’s home.

They sat in a gazebo and Mr Kenyatta announced that they had decided that Mr Musyoka should choose another position.

Whatever the case, Mr Wanjigi’s attempt to capture the State in 2012 failed. In Nasa, he appears to see a second chance.

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