On January 27, 2021- An Opinion by Iko Siku “The only way to predict the future is to have power to shape the future”
Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu is besieged at home from virtually every corner. Her throne, like never before, has attracted a wave of opposition with at least four contenders declaring interest. They are former Governor Dr Julius Malombe, former Senator David Musila, Ambassador Kiema Kilonzo and former Nairobi Deputy Governor Jonathan Mueke.
Graft, internal political rifts, bad governance, incompetence, public disenchantment and a host of troubles stand like a pus-oozing sore on the face of her three year old government.
With the 2022 General Elections just about 18 months away, political winds are blowing across the country. Now that the transition fever has also caught the entire nation, there is an unprecedented political jostling and new alignments are fast forming.
The national political realities shall inevitably directly affect and determine Kitui County politics. So far, reverberations from the alignments at the national arena are starting to be felt in the local scene.
Ngilu is aware of all these factors ranged against her. She will not sit and wait to be struck down by the tsunami. And be politically destroyed.
She will do anything, everything within her ability to retain the seat. For Ngilu knows that if she loses the Governor’s seat, she will completely be cast into the political dustbin, finished for good.
And that, she won’t easily rebrand from the ashes and rise to win another political seat locally or nationally. Her age and the sins of ommission and commission in her 24 year stint in national government and now at the helm of Kitui county may haunt her never to rise.
For example, apart from a despicable development performance as Kitui Governor, she has scores of criminal files pending prosecution at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC). Without the Governor feather on her hat to give her the power to manipulate things, she will easily be hauled into court and remain to fight court battles for the rest of her life. This would cause an irreparable damage in her political career.
For the wily, ever scheming, politically mutative and instinctive Ngilu, the next election will be a do or die dilemma. She will spare nothing to retain that seat.
Just watch how she has been acting in the last three years. It was simply strategic.
She spent her first year fighting her perceived political and economic enemies. She deliberately clashed with everyone within and without her government, to clear the ground of any obstacles as she launched herself into financial empowerment that would serve her during hard political times ahead.
The charcoal and sand trade ban, the endless scores of fluid projects like the Ndengu Revolution and Kicotec, the calculated ejection of brilliant and brave county officials in critical dockets, the pacification of county staff, the evaporation of staff allowances and recurrent budget, the growth of tightly controlled sectoral cartels et cetera et cetera were strategic acts of self preservation for the ultimate strike.
She will not hesitate to unleash her money, any resources and buy what she must, and survive!
Destiny shapers networks
This world has its movers and shakers. People who have the power to control and determine the course of events. They are destiny shapers.
After one year of deliberate rabid acts, wily Ngilu moved to connect well with Kenya’s destiny shapers. She has set the stage for an intricate web of powerful networks that will be handy in the hour of need.
First, she is a reputed close ally to Kenya’s political kingmaker Raila Odinga. Secondly, she has latched herself as a fierce defender of BBI where she connects warmly with the who is who of Kenya namely Musalia Mudavadi, Gideon Moi, Moses Wetangula, Kalonzo Musyoka and powerful business moguls. And above all President Uhuru Kenyatta. Her political footmen are also firmly in the Hustler Nation as forerunners in case things don’t work out well in the other camp. Make no mistake, Ngilu is herself a strong national leader with solid international connections.
Only last week, most unexpectedly, she went tong and hammer defending Ukambani Kingpin Kalonzo Musyoka (SKM) from attacks by Hustler Chief. SKM is mellowed and more surprises are being packaged to soften and win the heart and soul of the Wiper master. And lure her diehard supporters.
With that one stroke, confusion reigns supreme in the Wiper fraterniity with a variety of spins doing rounds as Ngilu inches closer to the Wiper heartbeat.
In the larger Ukambani, she is tightly knit to her Makueni and Machakos brothers Kivutha Kibwana and Alfred Mutua under the aegis of South-Eastern Economic Block (SEKEB) and at the same time dallies with tycoon and Huster Chief in Ukambani Johstone Muthama.
In Kitui, she dallies with all the sitting MPs and MCAs in a carrot and stick tactic.
A crowded race and opposition disunity
Ngilu honed her political skills in the 80s and 90s fighting the all powerful KANU government under the “Professor of Politics” President Daniel Moi. She is no stranger to cut-throat, do or die politics. Over the years, she has gained massive experience, skill and knowledge of Kitui’s political psyche. To wage war against her requires a united, well organized and meticulously executed campaign.
For a small, unsophisticated and manipulable voter base such as Kitui’s, a large number of contenders to the throne is obviously counterproductive. If the opposition leaders would swallow their pride, come together and raise a formidable team, dethroning Ngilu would need just a chorus, what with her poor performance and an angry and frustrated populace.
If the opposition goes to the elections so divided, a repeat of the 1992 scenario, where former President Daniel Moi beat the then opposition despite a feverish support countrywide, is in the offing.
The Musila factor
The ground is feverishly pro-Malombe and anti-Ngilu. Many analysts hitherto believed a Malombe win against Ngilu could be a walk over owing to his flowery development record and the nostalgia of the economically vibrant days under the former Governor.
But the re-entry of former Senator David Musila has complicated the political arithmetics for all the candidates because the Mwingi vote base was seen to be “yours for the taking”. Not any more. Musila is expected to ring fence the area as he did in 2017 unless a formidable campaign strategy is crafted to deal with the region.
Rebranding her county government
This week, seven new faces were sworn in as County Executive Chiefs after two years with an unconstitutional government (on account of gender imbalance and legal threshold for County Executive Committee Members) after several resigned while two were impeached. Ngilu has finally fixed a huge loophole. This face saving initiative is aimed at softening the ground and pacifying certain political quarters. Although it is a last ditch affair, it will surely bear fruit.
Therefore, contenders to the throne must go back to the drawing board and weigh their options. To restrategize and ask hard questions. To review their plans in toto, to re-assess their strengths and weaknesses. And to craft a killer campaign strategy.
For Ngilu is no fool. She has the power of incumbency well used. She has a really Big Reason, a life and death reason, unlike them, to fight tooth and nail to keep the crown on her head. And she will be mean. She will pull any trick and punch to remain at the throne. She will be more lethal than 2017! Tighten your safety belts!
I know this won’t go down well with my buddies. But I know one thing. I’ve said nothing you didn’t know. Only they did not master the courage to say it, loudly.
I’ve said it. Now go and act.
For you and I know: Dethroning Ngilu won’t be a walk in the park!