Nairobi governor Dr Evans Kidero re-election bid got a major boost last week after the business community from Murang’a County endorsed his candidature.
The Murang’a businessmen led by one of the founders of Rwathia Distributors, Gerald Gikonyo who is aged 103 years, threw their weight behind Kidero in a ceremony held at Alfa Hotel in downtown Nairobi. The hotel is owned by the tycoon.
The function that was attended by the governor, his chief of staff George Wainaina and county top officials was organised by the ‘Uhuru, Kidero Tena’ team that comprises Geoffrey Muya, John Kihara alias Kanu Gema and Henry Njau, among others.
The development is a major setback for the Jubilee Party gubernatorial aspirants who include former Gatanga MP, Peter Kenneth, Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko and former Starehe MP Bishop Margaret Wanjiru.
In February this year a section of Murang’a business community led by one, James Kanene endorsed Kenneth’s candidature, arguing that the former Kenya National Congress leader was the only one capable of beating Kidero.
Addressing the press in Murang’a town, they claimed that Murang’a investors account for 15 per cent of the national revenues and hence the seat for the city governor should go to one of their own.
But speaking on behalf of the ‘Uhuru, Kidero Tena’ team during the ceremony at the Alfa Hotel, Muya urged the members of the Gikuyu, Embu and Meru communities to vote for Kidero saying that they also expect other communities to back President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election.
Muya further noted that Kidero has cultivated a cordial working relationship with the President though they are in different political parties.
He commended the governor for ensuring peace and unity prevailed in Nairobi, noting that he has protected the interests of the Gema community though few voted for him during the 2013 general election.
In his presentation, Kihara alias Kanu Gema noted that Kidero was ahead of other candidates in the gubernatorial seat, citing the 2013 general election statistics.
In the 2013 polls, Cord leader Raila Odinga garnered 691,156 votes against Uhuru’s 659,490 votes in Nairobi.
In the gubernatorial race, Kidero garnered 692,490, TNA’s Ferdinand Waititu (618,490), APK’s Jimnah Mbaru (52,510), Wiper’s Mutinda Kavemba (7,445), Narc’s Paul Kobia (5,334), FPK’s Philip Kisia (5,154), Ford People’s Erick Mokua (4,201), NVC’s Alice (3,865), KNC’s Joseph Muchunu (1,736) and Independent candidate, Wanyiri Kihoro (1,754).
Kihara argued that with about 950,000 registered voters in Nairobi, the Gema community cannot win the city gubernatorial seat on its own but rather should back a candidate with the numbers and a development agenda, where Kidero fits in.
During the ceremony Kidero also honoured Gikonyo with the key to the city that will see him now park his cars free of charge; attend all county and national governments functions and have a road named after him besides other benefits.
Gikonyo, a co- founder of Rwathia group of businesses, is the third person to receive the award after the late Cardinal Maurice Otunga of the Catholic Church, former Tanzania President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete and Nobel laureate, late Prof Wangari Maathai.
Speaking during the function Kidero described Gikonyo as one of the city’s top loyal tax payers who have faithful remitted their dues to City Hall without fail.
The governor noted that Gikonyo came to Nairobi when there were no banks and only a few unpaved footpaths connecting most of the residential areas and markets.
Gikonyo is the only remaining patriarch of the great capitalist boys from Rwathia village in Murang’a County who produced the legendary Rwathia Group of entrepreneurs.
“This is a token of appreciation to honour your work in this county. With this key, you can move freely within Nairobi County. You are also exempted from paying the city county parking fees for your fleet of vehicles,” said Kidero.
Gikoyo is the oldest man living in the city. He rarely ventures out of his Ronald Ngala Street home where he lives on the ground floor with his only surviving wife.
Gikonyo, a father of 26, arrived in Nairobi 90 years ago as young man with nothing but a burning desire to earn a living.
In 1947, he established Mwihoko General Rwathia Supplies, which has expanded over time to become more than 50 companies employing more than 100,000 people. In the same year, the groups began buying land on which they built residential and commercial buildings.
The function was also addressed by Stanley Gathogo Gikonyo, an aspirant for the Starehe parliamentary seat and a women leader, Grace Wachira.
The endorsement of Kidero by the Murang’a business community comes at a time the Jubilee Party leadership is torn between supporting Kenneth or Sonko.
Already, Sonko, who has sensed danger, has been accusing the Jubilee Party leadership of pushing for Kenneth, vowing that he will not allow the Mount Kenya mafia to rig him out.
Venting his anger on social media, Sonko threatened to deploy 300 trained commandos in polling stations in Nairobi to prevent voter importation and ballot stuffing during the Jubilee Party primaries.
“To all Nairobi aspirants, don’t be intimidated. Our solid strategy will ensure a free and fair nomination process. Smart Cards must go,” Sonko wrote in his facebook recently.
But as Sonko cries foul, his main rival in Jubilee, Kenneth has officially kicked off grassroots campaigns where he has visited Mathare, Githurai and other city outskirts.
The former Gatanga MP has ruled out seeking consensus over his candidature and dared Sonko and Wanjiru to face him during the Jubilee nominations.
“We are asking the party to start preparing to have every jubilee aspirant in the nomination because we cannot seat and be insulted by people who have no idea what they even stand for,” he said recently.
Recently, Kenneth hosted over 500 Jubilee party aspirants for various seats and e urged them to mobilize the voters to pick him during the nominations. He was accompanied by Linnete Mirehane who he has picked as his running mate.
Mirehane pledged to accompany Kenneth to ensure they “save Nairobi from poor leadership”.
Others present were Starehe MP Maina Kamanda, Mathare’s Steven Kariuki, nominated MP Sonia Birdi who is eyeing Westlands constituency seat, Nairobi county minority leader Abdi Guyo and scores of MCAs from the Jubilee party.