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Why Raila might pick Ndiritu Muriithi as running mate

By Justus Karanja

The decision by ODM leader Raila Odinga to pick Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi (pictured above) to head his campaign team as board chair is a signal he is considering the county chief as a possible running mate.

 “The Governor of Laikipia,  Hon Ndiritu Muriithi, has been nominated and accepted to become chair of the board of the Raila Odinga 2022 Campaign,” Raila said in a statement.

Raila’s selection of the team, particularly Muriithi, demonstrates the importance he attaches to Central Kenya where he is likely to pick his running mate.

An economist and financial markets expert, Governor Muriithi, has over 29 years’ experience in leadership and management in Kenya, South Africa, Canada and Australia. He was instrumental in the drive to have the derelict Nairobi-Nanyuki and Gilgil-Nyahururu railway lines rehabilitated.

In recent weeks, Muriithi has been accompanying Raila in several key public meetings in what fueled speculation that he may be his running mate.

Muriithi, who was born on February 10, 1967, is the perfect running mate for the 77-year-old Raila who is expected to go for one term and then retire.

Those backing Muriithi are of the view he is a perfect replica of his uncle, former President Mwai Kibaki who many in Mount Kenya region and the country in general credit for the development and economic stability the country witnessed.

The governor is the son of Phillip Muriithi Kibaki, the elder brother of former President Mwai Kibaki.

He is the younger brother to the late Alex Muriithi, who was a close confidante of Kibaki.

Muriithi is also in the same age bracket with Raila’s main rival, Deputy President William Ruto who was born in December 1966.

Muriithi studied economics at a university in Canada and later served in Kibaki's Cabinet.

 It was Kibaki who paid his fees at Kagumo High School in Kiganjo and Alliance High School where he studied for his A-levels in 1984-85.

In 1986 Muriithi went to study in Canada and returned to Kenya in 1991 which marked the start of his working for Kibaki in the Democratic Party when the latter was gunning for president in the following year's election.

In 1993, after Kibaki lost the polls to Moi, Muriithi went to the University of Technology Sydney in Australia to study project management on a government scholarship.

He came back and was in private consulting for about four years between 1996-99 assisting small and mid-size businesses to raise finance particularly for many of the flower farms owned by Africans in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Other projects they handled in financing include Nairobi Mamba Village, Karen Hospital, Nile Crocodiles in Kikambala and Githunguri Dairy.

At Githunguri Dairy, he worked with its chairman Njoroge Baiya, whom he would later serve with in the 10th Parliament.

In the 2002 General Election, Muriithi was a volunteer in Kibaki campaigns.

In 2007 General Election, Muriithi was elected Member of Parliament for Laikipia West and Kibaki appointed him Assistant Minister for Industrialisation where he served until 2013.

In 2013 General Election, Muriithi entered the race for Laikipia governor on a United Democratic Forum (UDF) party ticket.

At the time he was the then Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi’s point-man in Central Kenya.

He, however, lost the race to Joshua Irungu of The National Alliance (TNA).

Also to lose the race was Mwangi Kiunjuri who had vied on Grand National Party (GNU) ticket.

Muriithi was elected as governor in the August 2017 general elections as an Independent Candidate after Ruto rigged him out in the Jubilee primaries.

Those vouching for him to deputize Raila are citing his numerous financial market strengthening initiatives across African countries covering establishment of credit sharing and scoring institutions, improved bond market function, expansion of mortgage markets, and even growth of women-owned enterprises.

He has also been involved in the development of policy and law related to finance and economics such as legislation governing establishment of credit bureau, interest rates, taxation and other fiscal measures. 

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