By Moses Njagih
Kibaki has for decades been the county’s political leader but his retirement after elections gives Nyeri – considered the bedrock of Mt Kenya politics – the perfect opportunity to pick his successor.
Nyeri has played a pivotal role in shaping politics in central Kenya and thus with Kibaki’s departure, local politicians are burning the midnight oil to claim leadership of the county.
The matter has dominated campaigns for the Governor and county positions, with aspirants urging the electorate to pick a leader capable of inheriting Kibaki’s political boots and one who can give the region political direction.
Despite dominating Mt Kenya region politics for several decades, Kibaki has failed to groom a successor well knowing he was heading for retirement, a fact that now leaves a void that the aspirants are seeking to fill.
Worse still, some of those angling for the position cannot express their ambition publicly fearing they would be considered to be fighting the President. Former Mathira MP Nderitu Gachagua and Assistant Minister Mwangi Kiunjuri suffered these accusations when they led campaigns for the Grand National Union (GNU) candidate in a civic by-election in Othaya against Kibaki’s PNU candidate.
“Kibaki is the cause of the gaping void that the county finds itself. He should have started grooming a potential leader the moment he ascended to the presidency since he knew he would be exiting the political field,” says an aspirant eyeing to be a governor.
The stakes are even higher given that Nyeri is considered to shape the politics of the surrounding counties of Kirinyaga, Nyandarua and Laikipia besides being a crucial cog of the larger central Kenya political wheel.
The county’s governor’s position is widely being viewed as the one to provide political headship given the executive powers the holder will wield.
Gachagua leads the pack of those eyeing the position. Apart from Gachagua, who is also the GNU Secretary General, others who have expressed interests in the position are Dr Thuo Mathenge who unsuccessfully contested the Nyeri Town seat in the last election and who is also the Secretary General of Saba-Saba Asili party.