Kenya’s capital is gearing for the most fiercely fought gubernatorial election since the introduction of devolved units in the 2010 Constitution.
The Jubilee Party has not been happy that it is in power and yet Cord, through Governor Dr Evans Kidero, is running the capital city, the nerve centre of Kenya’s economy, accounting for 12.7 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product and 43 per cent of the total urban wage employment.
The fight for Nairobi revolves around the control of lucrative contracts and business opportunities that accrue to political parties who control the capital city. Since 1992, and following the reintroduction of political pluralism, Nairobi has always voted opposition.
Those conversant with Nairobi politics say that the leading property owners from two counties of Murang'a and Kiambu are lobbying Jubilee to ensure they regain control of the city.
According Dr Amukowa Anangwe, a political science lecturer at the University of Dodoma, the stakes in Nairobi are very high because virtually all communities have either settled or work in the city.
“Historically, Nairobi politics revolved around Murang’a and Kiambu property owners. Dr Kidero in 2013 presented himself as a manager with the experience to protect personal property and also provide business opportunities. However, middle class tycoons are no longer comfortable with him and they would want to take charge,” said Dr Anangwe.
In 2013, Dr Kidero won by 692,483 votes mainly because he was seen as a level-headed, experienced manager compared with his closest rival, Ferdinand Waititu, who got 617,839.
But in 2017, the fight for Nairobi has boiled down to party affair and not individual capability.
Cord leader Raila Odinga says that Nairobi is an important political constituency for the whole country and that that the opposition must do everything possible to retain it.
However, Jubilee —which already has four candidates jostling for the party ticket— has been rattled by the recent entry of Peter Kenneth, a presidential candidate in the 2013 elections.
Mr Kenneth, who ditched his Kenya National Congress party last year to support the re-election of President Kenyatta, is now the target of other aspirants in Jubilee who accused him of portraying himself as the favoured one.
Other aspirants — Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko, Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru, nominated MP Johnson Sakaja, and former Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru —have ganged up against Mr Kenneth, terming him as a “latecomer” who just a year ago was criticising the Jubilee government from within opposition ranks.