Peter Kenneth choice to replace Uhuru as kingpin elicits mixed reaction
The entry of former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth into Mt Kenya politics as a possible kingpin after President Uhuru Kenyatta exits in 2022 is getting mixed reactions in a region where the race is a head-scratcher.
That Mr Kenneth is eyeing a national position has not been lost to observers and in the coming days, he will be opening his campaign centre known as PK Hub to coordinate his political activities as he readies himself for the battle ahead.
But his critics say he will have to sweat it out as he wriggles through his past miscalculations and battle other pretenders to the throne.
Those who are fronting Mr Kenneth have packaged him as one with blessings from President Kenyatta.
When President Kenyatta last visited Mr Kenneth’s Gatanga backyard a year ago, he was asked by his handshake-partner Raila Odinga to get the politician a government job.
Among his supporters are Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kangata, Gatanga MP Joseph Nduati and Kiambu, Woman Rep Gathoni wa Muchomba who say they will start campaigning to propel Mr Kenneth to the pedestal, adding that he is fit to be appointed to the Cabinet.
Mr Kangata asked the President to consider PK if he ever reconstitutes his government, arguing that he will add value should he join the top decision-making organ of the Executive.
But popular political analyst Ngugi Njoroge posed: “Is the President himself popular enough in Central region to push him (PK) through? Is Kenneth connected to the ground politically?”
Mr Njoroge maintains that much as the President is a factor in deciding who will take over from him once he retires, his deputy William Ruto too has influence. He says whoever is scheming to become the region’s kingpin is safer waiting for the right time.
Mr Kenneth is returning to national politics at a crucial time when the BBI referendum campaigns are only being delayed by the surging Covid-19 pandemic.
“The PK hub is almost ready and should be up and running in mid-August,” Mr Kenneth’s spokesman Alhaji Amin told the Nation.
“It will be the command base for all of PK’s political activities. A place where his operations and political activities will be dispensed.”
But former career administrator Joseph Kaguthi said Mr Kenneth will be “a hard sell since he is associated with serious political miscalculations in the region.”
He said the Kenya National Congress leader contested against the community in 2013 when he opposed The Hague-bound Uhuru and dismissed calls by former Internal Security Minister John Michuki to back Mr Kenyattas’s candidature.
Whether President Kenyatta, who was previously critical of Mr Kenneth’s candidature, has overcome that betrayal, real or perceived, is yet to be seen.
But since Mr Kenneth has the backing of Mr Odinga, it appears that his entry may not be as rocky as thought by Mr Kaguthi and his ilk.
“The region also remembers that in 2013, Raila Odinga while on a political tour identified Mr Kenneth and former Education Assistant Minister Kilemi Mwiria as his pointmen in the region…these are serious issues he has to cleanse himself from,” Mr Kaguthi said.
Mr Kaguthi accuses Mr Kenneth of refusing to dissolve his Kenya National Congress party to join Jubilee, saying he is entering too late into the day.
But former Maragwa MP Elias Mbau says this is not a big deal since even Jomo Kenyatta refused to join Mau Mau and Mwai Kibaki refused to join original FORD and rose to become a successful President.
“We want Kenneth endorsed and packaged as the one who will go to the negotiation table carrying our combined eight million votes and pawn us to the highest bidder, or if nothing meaningful comes out of it, we bid independently if need be,” said Mr Mbau.
In Mr Kenneth’s Murang’a backyard, support is also coming from Gatanga MP Nduati Ngugi, Mary Wa Maua (Maragua), Mathioya’s Peter Kimari, Kigumo’s Wangari Mwaniki, Woman Rep Sabina Chege and Senator Irungu Kang’ata.
Also on his side are Education Chief Administrative Secretary Zack Kinuthia and New Partnerships for African Development Chairman Elias Mbau from Maragua. “We are working hard to ensure that he emerges as the Mt Kenya Kingpin because he is the right person to inherit the President in 2022,” Mr Nduati said.
Ms Wa Muchomba said supporting Mr Kenneth is the easier option because he already enjoys a national appeal as a result of his previous positions in the public service.
But DP Ruto’s ally Kandara’s Alice Wahome opposes the rise of Mr Kenneth, saying “there are so many (leaders) in this region who fit the bill.”
Additional reporting by Ibrahim Oruko
Source: Daily Nation