So far, no politician has suggested that they want to be Nairobi governor or senator. This is pretty odd because so far as eating is concerned, the Capital city offers the fattest pie.
City Hall, for instance, recently unveiled a Sh12 billion budget. The city hosts most of the country’s biggest taxpayers and contributes the largest percentage of national GDP. The opportunities for patronage, bribery, and power brokerage are awesome.
The interesting bit is that nearly everyone with aspirations to be governor or senator across the country own property and residential homes in Nairobi. But they don’t want to help create wealth in Nairobi. They probably want to divert it to the village, where they can eat it far away from the public limelight.
If that’s not the case, what this means is that we do not at present have a politician with a national appeal who transcends ethnic boundaries. At independence, we had Mwai Kibaki, Tom Mboya, and Munyua Waiyaki. Now, we have people who can only seek election in their villages of birth, where they will be backed up by their clans.
Those who seek elective seats in Nairobi only do after ensuring that the constituency is home to a large number of people who speak their mother tongue.
True, Nairobi has its own gallant sons and daughters. The PLO Lumumbas, the Barrak Mulukas, the Dennis Aluangas – highly accomplished professionals who were born and bred in Eastlands and for whom Nairobi is home. But as PLO demonstrated, they can’t win a city election.
And then there are the Manu Chandarias, the Jimnah Mbarus, the Titus Naikunis and the Vimal Shahs – people who run major financial corporations with national, even regional impact. These are the men who build empires and who can fashion and execute dreams around a futuristic Nairobi County. But try as you would, you just don’t picture Manu Chandaria addressing a noisy campaign rally in Kamukunji.
So then, who will become Nairobi’s Governor? The answer is no rocket science. It will be a guy who pulled himself out of the gutter by his bootstraps – mostly by selling contraband.
He will be someone who can throw a punch. He will certainly be a former councillor. His level of education will be, at best, elementary.
His command of the English language will be basic. His knowledge of finance and HR management will be limited to a timber yard or butchery.
That is the man who will preside over Kenya’s seat of Government and East Africa’s largest metropolis. Amusingly, it is city residents who do not vote in Nairobi who will complain and suffer most as the governor eats in the middle of a smoky traffic jam.