Intense battle for Azimio ticket in Nairobi elective seats
With 2,250,853 registered voters, 3,378 polling stations and 17 constituencies, Nairobi is one of the biggest battlegrounds for leading presidential aspirants - Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
The two are now locked in a battle for Nairobi to control the capital city with a recent opinion poll by Infotrak showing the race is too close to call.
But it is in Azimio la Umoja that brings together ODM, Jubilee and affiliate parties that an intense battle for the coalition’s ticket has broken out, seven months to the General Election.
City Bigwigs from ODM and Jubilee are making a claim for the Azimio tickets in advance, driven largely by the popularity of Raila and President Uhuru Kenyatta in the capital city.
In the three presidential elections Raila has contested for the top seat – 2007, 2013 and 2017 – he has garnered the majority votes in the city, beating former President Mwai Kibaki (2007) and Uhuru (2013 and 2017).
With such an impressive performance, candidates who will get his nod in the ODM strongholds in the city are almost assured of winning in the race for the respective seats.
Raila’s popularity combined with Uhuru’s, and the backing of the state machinery will give candidates on Azimio and edge over their rivals in the city seats.
For Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) there pointers most sitting legislators elected on Jubilee ticket and are now in the Hustler Movement will get the tickets, a move that will be a big disappointment to the UDA aspirants.
For Raila and Uhuru, they are said to be keen to ensure Azimio candidates carry the day in the elections in city seats.
In their arrangement, the governor’s Azimio ticket will go to a Kikuyu who will be deputised by a Kamba.
The Luhya community will take the senator’s seat while the Kisii community will produce the woman representative.
In the 17 parliamentary seats, the arrangement will see the Kikuyu community get the lion’s share of the Azimio tickets to contest for the seats followed by the Luo, Luhya, Kamba, Kisii and Somali communities.
The arrangement takes into consideration each community’s voter numbers in the electoral unit their member will be fielded to face other candidates.
Raila, who is being backed by the President, is keen to give the populous community lucrative seats so as to win their support.
In the governor’s race, Raila is said to prefer Kenya Chamber of Commerce president Richard Ngatia to fly the Azimio flag.
Other aspirants such as former Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru are being asked to go for parliamentary seats.
Raila is said to have settled on Ngatia since he can bankroll his election and also has a touch with the ground.
Businesswoman Agnes Kagure who is eyeing the seat is leaning towards Gideon Moi’s Kanu.
Kanu is one of the parties that will join Azimio once the Political Parties Bill passes in the Senate.
If Azimio picks Ngatia, he is likely to face former Starehe MP Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, a Kikuyu, who will most likely fly the UDA flag with a Luhya running mate.
For the senatorial seat, Raila is said to prefer ODM Secretary General, Edwin Sifuna, a Luhya.
However, former Starehe MP Maina Kamanda, a Kikuyu, is also said to be eyeing the seat on Azimio ticket.
Sifuna vied for the seat on ODM ticket in the 2017 polls but lost to Jubilee's Johnson Sakaja.
Sakaja is said to be considering going for the gubernatorial seat on Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress.
In the 2017 elections, Sifuna was handed the ODM ticket despite opposition from Bukachi Chapia who was the party's sole aspirant in the race.
If Sifuna gets Raila’s backing, it will be a big disappointment for Kamanda, who will be forced to vie for a parliamentary seat.
The Azimio senate candidate will most likely square it out with Karen Nyamu, a Kikuyu, who is the front-runner in the race for UDA ticket.
In the Woman Representative race, Raila is fronting Beatrice Kwamboka, a Kisii, to go for the seat.
There are reports current woman representative, Esther Passaris, is being persuaded to go for Starehe parliamentary seat on Azimio ticket.
If Passaris agrees to seek Starehe seat, she will square it out with former Kamkunji MP Simon Mbugua, who is fighting to get the UDA ticket.
For Kwamboka, she was in the 2013 General Election elected the MCA for Mountain View Ward in Westlands Constituency on ODM ticket.
In the 2017 elections, she was eyeing the woman representative seat on ODM ticket and had even crafted her slogan is ‘Mrembo wa jiji’ – the city’s beauty - but lost to current woman representative Esther Passaris, a Kikuyu, in the race for the ticket.
It Raila picks Kwamboka, it will be a big disappointment to Passaris, whose slogan in the last election was ‘Balozi wa Mama na Watoto”, as she was planning to defend her seat.
There are reports Youth Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rachel Shebesh and former nominated member of the Nairobi County Assembly, Wambui Ng’ang’a are eyeing the Azimio ticket but their chances of bagging the ticket are remote.
If Raila picks Kwamboka, she will most likely square it out with nominated senator Millicent Omanga, a Kisii, who is likely to land the UDA ticket.
Omanga, whose slogan in 2017 primaries was ‘Msupa na works’, has remained close to Ruto despite threats of removal from the senate for associating with the Deputy President.
In the Dagoretti North race, Raila is said to prefer current MP Simba Arati, a Kisii, to fly the Azimio flag.
For UDA, Ruto, insiders averred, is considering fielding a Kikuyu and one name is cropping up, that of Mr Ndung’u.
Dagoretti South currently held by John Kiarie Waweru alias KJ of Jubilee, a close ally of Ruto, Raila wants Waweru to go for the seat on Azimio ticket.
Embakasi Central currently held by Gathiru Mwangi of Jubilee, who is torn between supporting Uhuru or Ruto, Raila wants the ticket reserved for a Kikuyu with roots in Murang’a.
Embakasi East currently held by Babu Owino of ODM, a Luo, Raila wants the handshake ticket reserved for the incumbent who is his strongest defender.
Embakasi North currently held by Mwangi Gakuya of Jubilee and a close ally of Ruto, the ODM leader wants the handshake ticket to go to a Kikuyu with roots in Murang’a County.
Embakasi South held by Julius Musili Mawathe of Wiper, the ODM leader wants the handshake ticket reserved for a Kamba.
Embakasi West held by George Theuri of Jubilee and an ally of Ruto, Raila wants the handshake ticket to go to a Kikuyu with roots in Kiambu County.
Kamukunji held by Yusuf Hassan Abdi of Jubilee, Raila wants the ticket reserved for a member of the Somali community.
Kasarani held by Mercy Gakuya of Jubilee and an ally of the President, the ODM leader wants the handshake ticket reserved for her or any other Kikuyu aspirant.
Kibra held Imra Okoth of ODM, Raila wants the handshake ticket reserved for a Luo.
Lang’ata currently occupied by Nixon Korir of Jubilee and a close ally of the Deputy President, Raila wants the handshake ticket to go to a Kikuyu.
In Makadara held by George Aladwa of ODM and his close ally, Raila wants the ticket reserved for him or any other Luhya candidate.
Mathare held by Anthony Tom Oluoch of ODM, the handshake ticket is likely to go to a Luo. However, Raila has not ruled out dishing the ticket to a Kikuyu if need be.
Roysambu held by Isaac Waihenya Ndirangu of Jubilee and an ally of the President, Raila wants the ticket reserved for him or any other Kikuyu with roots in Nyeri County.
Ruaraka held by Kajwang Tom of ODM, Raila wants the handshake ticket reserved for him.
Starehe held by Charles Kanyi Njugua of Jubilee who has switched to the president’s camp, Raila schemes for the handshake ticket to go to Pasaris. ODM aspirant Steve Mbogo, who flew the party’s flag in the last polls, is undecided on whether to vie.
Westlands held by Timothy Wanyonyi of ODM, the Orange party leader wants the ticket reserved for a Luhya.
The allies Raila and Uhuru are now engaged in behind the scenes schemes to control Nairobi politics ahead of 2022.