Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu, who defeated Kiambu Governor William Kabogo in the recent Jubilee primaries. Efforts by Mr Kabogo to discredit Mr Waititu failed. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
How Kabogo’s attempts to besmirch Waititu ended in political disaster
Always dressed in buggy trousers, untucked oversize shirts and a hat when not on official duties, Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu, who is viewed as someone with little regard for etiquette, paints a picture of a confused happy-go-lucky fellow.
But the rough politician, who never shies away from admitting that he will do anything to get what he wants, is perhaps every politician’s envy.
Many agree that successfully shifting a political base from one county to another to save a dwindling political career, as the streetwise politician did, is what everyone wishes for, but it is not everyone’s game.
Within three years, the 55-year-old MP successfully shifted base to Kiambu County from Nairobi, where he had been sent to political oblivion after he lost to Evans Kidero in the 2013 governorship race.
The “fiery politician” found comfort in Kiambu, where he made a comeback after inheriting the Kabete parliamentary seat in May 2015 in a by-election following the killing of then MP George Muchai.
To some, he is an opportunist, a lucky go-getter, but to others, he is a man of the people who always acts as a champion for the downtrodden.
The MP, who courts attention wherever he goes, and whom troubles always follow, never walks away from them, and could probably fit the definition of an abrasive politician, at least going by his antics.
He often justifies his actions as the only way to tackle issues, and during his tenure as Embakasi MP, he was captured on camera throwing stones during a demonstration, and in Kabete, he led youths in raiding bars in the area in the fight against illicit alcohol.
“I just roam just like that, but I have God’s favour,” Mr Waititu said during his campaigns for the Jubilee Party ticket in the Kiambu governor’s race, in which he handed incumbent William Kabogo an embarrassing defeat.
Mr Waititu, popularly known as Babayao, garnered 353,604 votes against Mr Kabogo’s 69,916.
The MP was born on January 1, 1962 in Kibera, and has always been perceived as a “Nairobian” but during the Kabete by-election he said his parents had roots in Limuru and Githunguri.
Mr Waititu rose through the political ranks from being a councillor, deputy mayor to MP and assistant cabinet minister before losing in the 2013 elections.
Though he always appears friendly, Mr Waititu is a no-nonsense politician who says it as he sees it.
Nothing or no one moves or scares him, and bravery and aggressiveness saw him easily become a darling of the people of Kiambu, who viewed him as the only person who could tame Mr Kabogo.
The flamboyant governor, who has an appetite for fast cars, has been accused of arrogance, hard-headedness and disrespecting other elected leaders.
When Mr Waititu declared his interest in the Kabete seat, Mr Kabogo immediately started fighting his attempt to join Kiambu County politics, fearing that Babayao would team up with other MPs in the county who were fighting him.
Mr Kabogo, with the backing of ward representatives allied to him, started a spirited campaign against Mr Waititu’s candidature.
The governor used unkind words against Mr Waititu, with whom he served in Parliament for two terms, when they were Juja and Embakasi MPs respectively.
Mr Kabogo sought to brand the MP as an outsider, since he was shifting base from Nairobi, and a political reject because he had lost to Dr Kidero. But it did not work.
Perhaps out of anger, Mr Waititu, who had said he would be in Kiambu politics temporarily before returning to Nairobi, declared war on the governor.
He said he would use Kabete as a stepping stone to rise to become the county chief.
Mr Waititu teamed up with other leaders opposed to Governor Kabogo.
He portrayed himself as their “father figure”, and, together, they took Mr Kabogo head-on in a spirited campaign that was marred by innuendo, propaganda and character assassination.
Unlike other politicians who easily get angry over issues, Mr Waititu always made fun of the insults directed at him by Mr Kabogo, who he had sworn he will send him home.
The governor would describe the MP as an uneducated person who cannot speak proper English and even nicknamed him “Wakahare”, a Kikuyu word for squirrel.
But instead of getting angry, Mr Waititu made fun of the tantrums to ensure they worked in his favour.
Mr Waititu created a political tide that gave Mr Kabogo an embarrassing defeat at the just concluded Jubilee primaries.
The tide also affected 98 per cent of leaders backing the governor, who were also trounced at the primaries.
Mr Waititu weathered accusations by Mr Kabogo and his supporters that he had faked his academic papers.
The governor even took the matter to court, contesting that the MP never studied at Panjab University in India, where he also studied.
He argued that Mr Waititu was using his brother’s documents.
But it turned out that all efforts by Governor Kabogo to discredit Mr Waititu eventually favoured the Kabete MP in the recent primaries.
Mr Waititu’s supporters even quipped that a squirrel had felled a buffalo.
Source: Daily Nation