Trouble for Lenku: Will he survive Nkedianye’s assault?

SELECTION: The choice of the Azimio flagbearer for the Kajiado gubernatorial seat will be made behind closed doors and not in an open nomination contest

Former governor’s supporters are excited, saying all indications are that he commands more support than the incumbent

Former governor Dr David Nkedianye’s decision to decamp from the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) to the Jubilee Party continues to cause ripples, with his supporters exuding confidence that he will recapture the seat.

Following the introduction of devolution, Dr Nkedianye won the seat in the first General Election of 2013, which was held under the new constitution promulgated three years earlier. He lost the seat to Governor Joseph ole Lenku in the 2017 polls.

A political analyst close to Dr Nkedianye but who requested anonymity told the Kajiado Star that Lenku had lost significant support and goodwill since his election, as seen from the fact that he does not enjoy the support of any of the five Kajiado MPs.

“Nkedianye has support across the entire Kajiado County, but especially in the populous constituencies. Lenku does not have solid support anywhere that he can count on,” said the source.

Part of the reason is that soon after winning the seat, Lenku shook off those who had earnestly supported his campaign and reached out to his opponents in an attempt to mend fences. That appears to have been an error of judgement that has returned to haunt him, with his erstwhile supporters keeping a wide berth from him.

Dr Nkedianye’s move to Jubilee was informed by an alleged decision to reserve the Kajiado gubernatorial seat for Jubilee while allowing ODM to go for the Narok governor’s position. The main contenders within Jubilee are the incumbent and former governors. A third contestant, Tarayia ole Kores, has withdrawn his candidature in favour of Lenku.

What is also interesting is the manner in which a decision will be made regarding who between the two titans will become the Jubilee flagbearer. Impeccable sources indicate that no voting will be undertaken in the nomination exercise ostensibly to avoid creating acrimony within the Azimio coalition. However, it is said that polls have been conducted and intelligence obtained on which candidate is likely to garner greater support. The weaker candidate will be prevailed upon to quit the gubernatorial race.

Dr Nkedianye appears to have an edge over Lenku in terms of popular support. With two-time Kajiado North MP Joseph Manje as his running mate, he is expected to obtain most of the votes from the latter’s populous constituency. The other constituency with a large population, Kajiado East, is also Dr Nkedianye’s stronghold.

Kajiado South constituency is the stronghold of Katoo ole Metito, who will be attempting to wrest the governorship from Lenku on a UDA ticket. In Kajiado West, local MP George Sunkuyia is also a supporter of Metito. Lenku could fare better in Kajiado Central owing to the presence of Deputy Governor Martin Moshisho, but even then his influence will be countered by that of the area MP Elijah Memusi, an ODM member and supporter of Dr Nkedianye.

Already, some of the personalities who were expected to play a prominent role in Lenku’s re-election campaign have been decamping and heading straight for Dr Nkedianye’s team. One of these is Joseph ole Simel, a parliamentary aspirant for Kajiado West who has been close to Lenku during his term in office despite having supported Dr Nkedianye in the 2017 polls.

In a move that caught political commentators and supporters by surprise, former Kajiado West MP Moses ole Sakuda dumped Lenku and declared his support for Dr Nkedianye. Sakuda was among politicians who recently moved to Jubilee from ODM.

It should not be forgotten that Lenku enjoys the advantages of incumbency and has been the Azimio point man in Maasailand, endearing himself to the ruling elite well before the campaign period. There is also a lot of horse trading that is still ongoing and there is no knowing with certainty what pertinent developments may influence the decision on who will fly the Jubilee gubernatorial flag by the closing date for party nominations. Short of a miracle, however, Lenku’s political star appears to have dimmed and may well be extinguished by his nemesis whom he dethroned from governoship.

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