Political bigwigs with eye on PM set for comeback in their home turf

The proposal in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report to have a prime minister and two deputies could see a number of MPs face off with political heavyweights eyeing the position in 2022.

The three posts have raised the stakes in political party leadership and at constituency level, and some governors serving their last term have set their eyes on capturing the seats.

The BBI report provides that the Prime Minister must be the leader of a political party or coalition of parties in the National Assembly.

This means that big names interested in the position of PM will have to seek parliamentary seats, in what could see some current MPs lose their grip on constituencies.

Although they are yet to declare their 2022 political ambitions, party leaders Uhuru Kenyatta (Jubilee), Raila Odinga (ODM), Gideon Moi (Kanu), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) and Isaac Ruto (CCM) among others could challenge the incumbents.

Uhuru Kenyatta previously served as Gatundu South MP (2002-2013), Raila in Langata (1992-2013) and Mudavadi as Sabatia legislator between 1989 and 2013.

National profile

Kalonzo, on the other hand, represented Mwingi North between 1992 and 2013, while Ruto turned up for Chepalungu between 1997 and 2013 before clinching Bomet governorship.

Gichugu was represented by Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua between 1992 and 2013 while Gideon was the people’s choice in Baringo Central in the 2002 and 2007 elections. He is now serving the second term as Baringo senator.

Courtesy of their national profile, these leaders are likely to give current MPs a run for their money should they decide to vie for those positions.

Political analyst Prof Peter Kagwanja argues that Parliament will become more powerful since it will have seasoned politicians.

“Parliament will become more powerful because it will have big people, however, the debate should be about the criteria of getting people to leadership position and not the positions themselves. You should define, the criteria for getting people into leadership so that we have a system that adds value,” said Prof Kagwanja.

Powerful position

These are the constituencies they are likely to fall back on should they desire to become PM, a powerful position whose occupier will be the leader of government business in the house.

For instance should Uhuru opt to go for the position of PM, then he is likely to vie in Gatundu South currently represented by Moses Kuria, while Raila Odinga will have to square it out with Imran Okoth (Kibra) or Nixon Korir (Langata).

Kanu chairman and Baringo Senator Gideon may want to make a comeback as Baringo Central MP, a seat currently occupied by Maendeleo Chap Chap MP Joshua Kandie while Kalonzo may want to go for the Mwingi North seat currently held by Paul Nzengu.

Equally, Mudavadi may want to make a comeback as Sabatia lawmaker, a seat currently held by Alfred Agoi while Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula could battle it out with John Waluke for the Sirisia parliamentary seat.

Failure by the BBI to introduce a third regional tier in the governance system where second term governors had hoped to get a soft landing, means that they may go back to the constituency to keep their political ambitions alive.

Some are said to be mulling over going to the Senate, a move that could jeopardise political careers of current office holders who have no term limit.

Masinde Muliro University lecturer Egara Kabaji said that there are a number of proposals in the BBI that are attractive to politicians such as PM and DPM.

“A number of people who thought of vying for governor and senator may just start thinking of going for these positions. We will definitely be seeing people occupying governor and senator’s position vying for Member of Parliament with a view to becoming PM and DPM. However, this will depend on how their parties perform,” said Prof Kabaji.

Comes with advantage

Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju last week said the party wants President Uhuru Kenyatta to remain the leader after he retires in 2022. Should Jubilee garner majority seats in Parliament in the coming elections, then Gatundu South MP Kuria would have to contend with Uhuru for the seat.

However, the Head of State has always maintained that he wants to go home when his term ends in 2022. The president, just like second term governors comes with advantage of having been in power for 10 years, and could present a formidable campaign machinery likely to unsettle sitting or aspiring MPs.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, the BBI champion in Western and ODM deputy party leader might be forced to go back to his home constituency of Butere.

Mr Oparanya served as Butere MP in 2002 and 2007. Current MP Tindi Mwale of ANC would have to fight to beat the governor should he choose to go for the seat.

“I am still going for the presidency but if the dynamics change, I will declare my stand at that time,” the governor said, adding that the proposal to have MPs serve as Cabinet secretaries will reduce the cost of running government.

Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, who is Maendeleo Chap Chap (MCC) party leader and has declared interest in the top seat, may consider unseating current Mwala MP Vincent Musyoka of Wiper. Dr Mutua has already launched his presidential bid.

Kitui Governor and Narc leader Charity Ngilu has the option of battling it out with Kitui Central MP David Mboni. Ngilu has previously served as an MP for the constituency.

Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana, who has also declared interest in presidency on his former Muungano party can go back to Makueni constituency and fight it out with current MP Dan Maanzo.

Prof Kibwana can also vie in Kibwezi West and face off with Patrick Musimba, an independent, serving his second term. The governor has a home in the constituency.

Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Amason Kingi (Kilifi), Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia), Okoth Obado (Migori), James Ongwae (Kisii), Cornel Rasanga (Siaya), Ali Roba (Mandera, Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet) and Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu) are among the governors set to leave office in August 2022.

Building alliances

Joho, who is also ODM deputy party leader, might be forced to go back to Kisauni and battle it out with current MP Ali Mbogo. The governor has however maintained that he will seek to replace Uhuru at State House.

“I am running for the presidency and I am warning my competitors to be ready as this is going to be a bruising battle. I will vie for the presidency on ODM ticket but I am building alliances across the country to boost my chances,” said Joho.

When sought for comment yesterday, Roba said he is focused on serving his mandate for the next 21 months before declaring his next move.

“I will make my decision known at the right time. I have a contract with the people of Mandera County and I am spending my time to implement the promises I made to the people. I support the BBI 100 per cent for now and the handshake between Uhuru and Raila,” the Mandera governor said.

Mr Rasanga said he wants to be Siaya’s senator after his term as governor ends in 2022.

“I still want to serve the people of Siaya and that is why I want to represent them in the Senate after my term as governor expires,” he said, essentially meaning that he will face off with Senator James Orengo.

Dr Kevin Ogonda of Bondo University said governors who will not unite the people in their home turf will face strong opposition.

“It is too early to tell whether some or all the governors will succeed in their goal. What is clear is that they are only out to increase their political stakes to remain relevant after the 2022 General Election,” Ogonda said.

[Rawlings Otieno, Wilfred Ayaga and Protus Onyango]

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