Tension as Mt Kenya tycoons plot to sneak Igathe as Jubilee candidate for governor seat

Tension as Mt Kenya tycoons plot to sneak Igathe as Jubilee candidate for governor seat

By Paul Munene

Members of Mt Kenya Foundation are plotting to sneak former Nairobi Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe (pictured) to contest for the governor’s seat on Azimio la Umoja ticket via Jubilee Party, we have reliably established.

The Mt Kenya caucus initially wanted Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCC) president Richard Ngatia but is now having misgivings due to the latter’s questionable academic credentials and involvement in graft.

The caucus that brings together tycoons from Mt Kenya region wants a figure they can control in Nairobi County where its members have vast commercial interests.

Insiders revealed that the caucus is dangling a carrot to Azimio la Umoja governor’s aspirants – to fund their campaigns for other elective seats if they agree to step down for Igathe.

The caucus was also piling pressure on Igathe to present his application to contest for the governor’s seat to Jubilee Party headquarters by close of deadline, March 22.

The ruling Jubilee Party announced the extension of the application period for nomination for all aspirants seeking elective seats a week ago.

But top Jubilee Party leaders are said to be opposed to the nomination of Igathe, arguing he let down President Uhuru Kenyatta after the head of state picked him to be the running mate of disgraced former city governor Mike Sonko.

The President, insiders revealed, had hoped Igathe would use his managerial experience to bring order and sanity in Nairobi but was disappointed after the deputy governor abruptly resigned without consulting him, claiming he was being undermined by Sonko.

Uhuru and Jubilee Party supporters had high hopes with Igathe who they viewed as a manager who would manage the city while Sonko would play the political role.

But Igathe showed his lack of leadership when he threw in the towel, opting to resign rather than fight the political battle waged by Sonko like a man.

His resignation saw the capital city go for about two years without a deputy, a scenario that gave Sonko a free hand to loot and mismanage county resources.

And now there are fears if Igathe is nominated by Jubilee and wins the governorship, he can repeat the mistake of resigning if under pressure, thereby throwing the capital city to the dogs for the second time.

Igathe was propelled to city politics by businessman, late Chris Kirubi, who is credited with mentoring him.

It was Kirubi who designed the Sonko-Igathe ticket in 2017 General Election which culminated in their election to serve as governor and deputy governor, respectively.

But the political marriage broke down following the resignation of Igathe, citing differences with Sonko.

Kirubi was hoping Igathe, who was the cog that sustained the Prime Minister's round-table conference that was held regularly by former premier Raila Odinga during the Grand Coalition government, would rise to the occasion and improve service delivery to Nairobians.

Sources revealed that Kirubi was again disappointed by Igathe when he resigned from his company to rejoin Equity Bank at a time the businessman was ailing and needed a trusted hand to manage his firm.

Igathe had rejoined Vivo Energy associated with Kirubi after a spell as Deputy Governor of Nairobi and Managing Director and Chief Commercial Officer of Equity Bank Limited.

He had rejoined Vivo on September 1, 2019 as the Executive Vice President for Sales and Marketing.

In a statement, Vivo Energy CEO stated,” I am pleased to announce that Polycarp Igathe will rejoin Vivo Energy as the Executive vice president Sales and Marketing, a newly created role that is being added to the Vivo Executive Management (VEM).”

But in March 2020, Kirubi was shocked when Equity Group Holdings Plc announced Igathe had re-joined the Equity Executive team as the Group Chief Commercial Officer reporting to the Group Chief Executive Officer, Dr James Mwangi.  

Before returning to Vivo in 2019, Igathe was the Managing Director of Equity Bank (Kenya) Limited and also doubled up as the Chief Commercial Officer.

Sources revealed that top Jubilee leaders are also wary of Igathe’s candidature given his habit of abandoning the ship at the most critical hour.

But the Mt Kenya Foundation tycoons are dangling the financial funding to Raila to push for the nomination of Igathe but the ODM leader is said to have told them off, stating the city seat must go to a person with the metal to withstand shock waves, and not a cry baby like Igathe.

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