Jubilee is planning to deny Senator Mike Sonko the coveted ticket for Nairobi governor, and the flamboyant politician blames a senior official in the Office of the President.
The party favours Peter Kenneth to head the county jewel in the crown considered a likely springboard to the presidency.
It has given up attempts to have Sonko reach a deal with the former Gatanga MP. Kenneth is a former presidential candidate and former assistant minister in government with several portfolios.
The senator has long been considered the biggest threat to ODM incumbent Governor Evans Kidero, but Jubilee wants him to defend his Senate seat.
“Sonko has refused to step down, despite several attempts and the party has no option but isolate him,” a senior official involved in behind-the-scenes negotiations said.
The senator says he has been denied a certificate of good conduct because of questions over his KCSE exam certificate — which has been deemed satisfactory in two past elections.
Sonko, often draped in gold chains and accompanied by an entourage of bodyguards, is known for bold words and extravagant, showy gestures. He’s known for the Sonko Rescue Team that helps people in distress, providing ambulances, hearses, wedding limousines and cash.
He said he will seek legal redress.
“Itabidi niende kortini kwa sababu niko na leaving na KCSE certificates,” Sonko told the Star yesterday.
Today is the last day to submit JP nomination papers.
A report by local ITF Research last month showed the governor and the senator command equal support at 28 per cent, while other potential contenders collectively garner 12 per cent.
Kidero won in 2013 with 692,483 votes,TNA’s Ferdinand Waititu had 617,839.
Sonko won his Senate seat with 808,705 votes, followed by ODM’s Margaret Wanjiru with 525,8222 votes.
Jubilee is also said to be unhappy with former Starehe MP Wanjiru who has insisted on running for governor when party leaders asked her to support Kenneth “and be rewarded later”.
Once it became clear Sonko would not give up on Nairobi governor, Jubilee strategists asked Sakaja to join Kenneth’s camp and run for Senate.
Yesterday Sakaja announced he will run for Nairobi senator, after filing papers at JP headquarters.
During his press conference yesterday, Sakaja was flanked by Nairobi leaders including Rachel Shebesh, who have all dumped Sonko for Kenneth.
“I will 100 per cent support the candidate chosen. Jubilee requires a team representing all generations,” he said.
He was accompanied by MPs Steven Kariuki (Mathare), Shebesh (woman Rep), Waihenya Ndirangu (Roysambu), George Theuri (Embakasi West) and their Gatundu South counterpart Moses Kuria. The same MPs accompanied Kenneth to file nomination papers on Wednesday.
Yesterday Sonko told the Star the plot to deny him the ticket was hatched by a senior official in the President’s office.
“There is a senior official at OP who is behind all this. I am told the system and some top party officials plotted to lock me out of the JP nomination,” Sonko protested in a telephone interview.
He claimed the official had instructed the CID to deny him a certificate of good conduct,required for Jubilee clearance.
The CID reportedly demanded Sonko provide his original and certified KCSE exam Certificate. Sonko claimed that was a plan to deny him clearance.
Sonko asked why police hesitated to clear him, though he had been given clearance in 2010 when he was first elected MP for Makadara, and again in 2013 to run for Nairobi senator.
“My KCSE papers are at Knec for anyone to check. Knut chairman Mudzo Nzili was board chairman at the school I attended in Kwale. The headmaster is the current Education officer in Tana River,” Sonko said.
According to Sakaja, people must sacrifice for the sake of Jubilee unity to give the party an edge over the opposition.
“I have sacrificed to unite Jubilee in Nairobi. Moving as a divided team is a sure route to loss. I am leading by example. It had too many people. I’ll try my luck in the Senate,” Sakaja told the Star yesterday
The other governor aspirant and member of Team Nairobi — Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru — yesterday denied reports he will run for reelection.
“It is not true,” Waweru told the Star in a text message.
Sonko expressed frustration, saying he does not know what kind of game the authorities were playing.
“Sijui ni karata gani wanacheza hawa watu wanasema sikumaliza form four na nilmaliza. Wakaniambia niende Knec next week na kila kitu yangu wa confirm,” he said.
This loosely translates, “I do not know what game these people are playing. They are saying I did not finish form four, and yet I did. They told me to go to Knec and confirm.
Sonko said he graduated from Kwale High school, adding, “My schoolmates are all over.”
The Star has established the realignments in Jubilee’s Nairobi politics are influenced by factors beyond the politicians.
Sonko, Sakaja, Waweru and Wanjiru came together to neutralise Kenneth and prevent his entry.
They had promised to negotiate and come up with a line-up but after months of talks, it was clear they could not agree.
Insiders familiar with negotiations that started last year say the presidency is very keen on Nairobi.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto have met all JP aspirants and asked them to agree on sharing positions.
At one time, Uhuru even offered to throw in a Cabinet Secretary slot for the team, as long as they assemble a winning JP team for Nairobi — especially governor.
Team Nairobi has considered Kenneth a project of tycoons from Central Kenya who want to deny Ruto the presidency in 2022 and see one of ‘their own’ in office.
Though Kenneth was born and reared in Nairobi, they painted him as an outsider and intruder because his family is from Murang’a.
But Sakaja’s announcement he will run for Senate is considered the death knell for Team Nairobi. He asked them to stop competing and to all form Team Jubilee.