The surprise Burma Market lunch date where Senator Johnson Sakaja hosted ODM leader Raila Odinga has left tongues wagging on whether the former defunct TNA chairman is mulling joining the opposition leader’s camp ahead of 2022 polls.
It was during the visit that Raila hit out at members of the Tanga Tanga movement, saying they are keen on maintaining the status quo of ethnic divisions, theft and plunder of public resources.
The ODM leader urged Kenyans to prepare for a political battle between those who want a united and prosperous nation and those out to keep the country in a state of corruption and division.
He said changes are coming which will provide a chance to restore sanity to politics and public affairs, cautioning Kenyans from being diverted into 2022 politics.
Raila’s statement came a day after MPs against William Ruto’s 2022 bid asked him not to set foot in Kiambu county unless he was accompanied by his boss Uhuru Kenyatta.
Burma market, mainly considered a Jubilee vote block, welcomed the Nasa squad, that was accompanied by a section of Jubilee leaders.
It was the first time Raila addressed a crowd in Nairobi since the handshake between him and Uhuru Kenyatta on March 9 2018.
The political significance of the meeting was exhibited by Nairobi woman rep. Esther Passaris, who was not pleased with the visit, claiming she and fellow women leaders were not invited.
She however championed the public efforts to unite the country, adding that women too should be involved in the agenda.
Political pundits aver that Sakaja used the reunion to drum up support for his 2022 gubernatorial ambition where he has vowed to take headon incumbent Mike Sonko.
Sakaja joins a list of politicians who have since the handshake been realigning themselves ahead of 2022 polls.
It is instructive to note that Sakaja, a Jubilee senator and senate minority leader James Orengo were inside Raila’s vehicle.
Last year, Sakaja caused a storm within Jubilee when he condemned the arrest of Embakasi East MP Paul Ongili alias Babu Owino for allegedly disrespecting the president and assaulting a security guard.
With Owino facing charges against insulting the president, only Sakaja from Jubilee wing who came to his defence.
“Whoever is trying to use the criminal justice system to score whichever goals, should stop. And if you are in the police force and you think by doing this you are helping Jubilee, you are not,” Sakaja said while flanked by Owino after the latter’s release from custody.
“Babu pole sana together with your bodyguard. As soon as I got the information from one of your people I was able to dash over here,” he told Owino.
The youthful senator is eyeing Nairobi gubernatorial seat and also supports the handshake between Raila and Uhuru, a move that could see him contesting from their impending political faction.
Raila, according to sources, has no time for Sonko who in 2016 declared himself as acting president in Raila’s presence.
Sonko, while attending the funeral of Wavinya Ndeti’s husband, which was also attended by Raila, said he was number three politically in the country.
He forced Raila to walk out of the burial after a barrage of insults punctuated with taka taka! Ghasia.
In the last election Raila supported the then incumbent Evans Kidero. But the former Nairobi governor is now battling a series of corruption scandals making it hard for him to make a political comeback.
Sakaja had wanted the position in 2017 before he opted to vie for Senator.
He also accompanied Raila to visit the family of the late veteran politician Oduya Oprong, who passed away two weeks ago.
Raila enjoys massive support in Nairobi and if he decides to endorse Sakaja, then Sonko must go back to the drawing board.
The governor has made many enemies since 2017, and he will not want Raila to be in that list.
Sonko has been quoted saying that he might not seek re-election in 2022.
The presence of Makadara MP George Aladwa also spoke volumes on his intention to unseat Sonko in 2022.
Aladwa has already declared he is preparing to battle other hopefuls in the race to unseat Sonko in 2022.
He declared that he will be seeking the seat on an ODM ticket, a race likely to also include Kidero and Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi.
“Ile kivumbi itakuwa pale kwa nominations kati yangu, Kidero na Tim Wanyonyi haitakuwa ya mchezo,” said the ODM chair for the Nairobi county branch on Radio Jambo.
He added that he is ready to answer to criticisms from people opposed to his bid, adding that he has every right to contest for any seat he wishes, just like any other Kenyan.
Aladwa also expressed confidence that he has what it takes to serve in that capacity, basing his decision on his supporters, whom he claimed have been pushing him to go for the higher post.
“Hakuna kiti ya mtu hii Kenya. Niko na haki ya kusimama na niko tayari kwa majukumu haya (these seats are not reserved for specific persons, I too have the right to vie and am ready for the responsibility),” said the former Nairobi mayor.
Kidero was the first governor between 2013 and 2017, after which he lost it to Sonko of the ruling Jubilee Party.
Aladwa, who served as the last mayor of Nairobi before the city transited to the devolved system has enrolled for higher education in what many suspects is linked to his political ambitions. He hails from the Luhya community which has sizeable votes in the city.
Aladwa is currently undertaking a diploma at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, Nairobi campus and a degree at Kenya Methodist University concurrently.
The law requires that for one to be qualified to contest for governorship, he/she must hold a degree.
But it is Wanyonyi who was the first to declare his interest in the governorship of Nairobi in 2022.
The second term legislator disclosed that he would not seek re-election to parliament in the next election but will instead “go for something bigger”.
“It is a great honour to serve in the national assembly as an elected lawmaker. Ten years is enough for me to work for the people of Westlands. I do not want to hang on forever. When my tenure comes to an end, I should be able to pave way for others as I pursue new political goals and challenges at a higher level,” he said.
He said he had cultivated his professional and political careers in Kenya’s capital city for over 20 years and believes he can offer better service to the public.
He dismissed speculation that he was laying ground to stage an assault for the governor’s seat in Bungoma county, his place of birth.
“I made it clear when I started my campaigns in 2012 that if elected I would serve for two terms only as MP. That position has not changed. The Nairobi governor’s seat is the one I shall be going for. I will seek my party’s ticket to vie for that position. I joined politics in 2003 as a nominated councillor in Nairobi and was elected MP five years later. Therefore I understand the capital city much better than any other county in Kenya,” he said.
Wanyonyi was the first MP to declare his interest in the Nairobi governor’s seat. However, the MP said even though he has declared intentions to run for the Nairobi gubernatorial seat, he would not engage in early campaigns but give Sonko full co-operation and all the backing he needs until he completes his term.
Wanyonyi is also the co-founder of the Kenya Paraplegic Organisation where he served as executive director until he became an MP.
Others who have shown interest includes Babu, the youthful Embakasi East MP. The first-term ODM MP boasts of large support from Nairobi city dwellers
Esther Passaris who also enjoys massive support among women and youth, has also shown interest in the seat. She is known for championing human rights and social justice.
She is also known for her Adopt-a-Light company that lit up a section of Nairobi streets.
Beatrice Elachi, former nominated senator is also likely to contest for the Nairobi governor seat in 2022. The Nairobi county assembly speaker has created a political name for herself and is among vocal female politicians in the city.
Denis Waweru,former mp is also set to run for governorship 2022.