The man or woman to become Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho’s number two is the most followed news across the world as ODM strongman “Sultan” Ali Joho sets his re-election campaign machinery on motion.
The decision is expected in less than two weeks, but the stakes are already high.
The names being tossed are heavyweights in their own making, and Kenya Today is informed powerful people are lobbying to find the best candidate to deputize Joho, who has become one of the most powerful politicians in Kenya and who is expected to guide the ODM machine post-August general elections.
Joho’s 2022 ambitions, which has been renegotiated following the successful NASA deal which handed the ODM Party the joint presidential ticket for NASA, is now in the distant.
Joho men are however setting him up for the end game, and whoever becomes his deputy is expected to bring to the table something the all round and gifted governor of Mombasa lacks.
Whatever it is, the choice of his Deputy will expose the thinking of Joho’s inner sanctum of power, and set the stage for his second term, which is expected to reveal the genius of the man Joho.
Three names have been tossed: academic Dr. William Kingi, his Secretary Francis Thoya and Tendai Mtana.
The thinking of Governor Joho on who is to become his runningmate is fuzzy, as he has left everyone guessing. Francis Thoya is believed to be a creation of his elder brother Abu Joho while the governor himself is said to prefer Dr. William Kingi.
Joho is said to be extremely cautious on political developments seen as machinations of his brother Abu who remains a larger than life figure in Joho’s politics.
Dr. Kingi is the current the dean, Faculty of Huma Resource Development of Mombasa Technical University. A professor of Human Resource Management (JKUAT), Kingi has been a long term Joho backer from the academic community in Mombasa.
His candidature is being pushed by those who believe Joho’s critics have centered on his education background and so having a member of the academic class will fill the gaps – if any – being shoved on Joho’s way.
Joho also feels, according to unofficial sources, that Mombasa County must eventually position itself as an academic destination for a younger generation rising from years of education neglect of the region, of which his generation remain the worst victims.
The Mombasa Vision 2035 plan is heavy on education sector; putting the case that the county’s future will depend on the professionals it attracts to run its diverse sectors including tourism, port operations and county administration.
In fact, it is this reason that Education Secretary Tendai Mtana has emerged as one of the new leaders of Mombasa for his work in developing the broader thinking around this sector. Tendai’s backers say he would have been the ideal candidate, being the most visible executives of Mombasa County government to whom Joho is said to have a soft spot for; but it is believed the political balancing facing Joho has knocked him out.
His bid remains in the cards, though.
It is not known whether Joho is considering any woman after his first deputy, Mrs. Hazel Katana, was cheaply bought by Jubilee, denting a huge blow to activists of women empowerment. Hazel is among novices at the coast that Jubilee harvested as its campaign failed disastrously to net the region’s big guns, many who have steadily stuck to NASA coalition.
Despite Katana’s exit, Joho inner core still feature powerful women, both in the politics of Mombasa County and inside his administration. A woman deputy remains in the cards, as well.
Joho has become something of a phenomenon in the country’s political landscape and his chances of mounting a serious presidential run backed by the largest political movement is now a subject of deadly arithmetic in places where transitional politics is the main course meal.
At no point has the coast region come so close to the presidency as now. A lot remains to be seen, though.