Inside Kananu’s surprise bid for Nairobi gubernatorial seat

She has emerged as a people friendly leader yet many thought that when she took over office, she was going to adopt some sense of autocratic leadership where everything starts and ends with her.

There is no doubt that Nairoibi Deputy Governor Ann Kananu has managed to endear herself to Nairobi residents as a charismatic leader whose transformational instincts have remained alive in the way she executes her duties.

On Friday 26th March, 2021, she shocked many when she declared that she will contest the Nairobi Gubernatorial seat in 2022.

Her announcement may have come as a surprise but those close to her must have seen it coming but it’s the timing that may have surprised them as well.

She did not just declare her interest but went ahead to warn her potential opponents to brace themselves for a tough political duel in the capital city.

“I will be vying in 2022. For those who think I am only here for a little while, I am telling them that I am here to stay. We shall faceoff,” she declared during a function on Friday, March 26.

Her sudden rise to the top of things at City Hall has provided an opportunity to pounce and make her political statement known to all and sandy in the city. It may rightfully be termed as an opportunity that didn’t come through much struggle but one thing is clear-she has always strategically set herself for bigger things.

Nairoibi Deputy Governor Ann Kananu did not just declare her interest but went ahead to warn her potential opponents to brace themselves for a tough political duel in the capital city.

Prior to her nomination as deputy governor on January 6, 2020, Ms. Mwenda maintained a low-key profile. At the time, she was the Nairobi County Chief Officer for Disaster Management and Coordination, a position she had held for the last two years.

She was married to the late Philip Njiru Muthathai who died in January 2019 following a road accident.

Before she was appointed to be in-charge of the county’s Disaster Management and Coordination docket, she served as a security supervisor in charge of quality control and training at the Kenya Airports Authority for 13 years.

Prior to that, she worked as a personal assistant at H. Mogambi & Co Advocates as well as Mokir Enterprises, which was a Safaricom Consultancy firm responsible for handling customer services.

Clearly, she is someone whose rise to political power has taken a short time and there would be nothing to lose if she gave it all in her quest to be elected. However, there is a big possibility that she could become the third governor pending the decision by a three-judge bench that is looking into several cases challenging her planned swearing in as the governor.

Kananu took over the county leadership after the impeachment of Mike Sonko who is facing various charges in court.

THE CONTEST

She will not be the first one to declare interest in the seat that is expected to be a hot contest between political bigwigs in the city. She becomes the second woman to declare her interest after former Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru declared her intentions early this year.Wanjiru had already hit the ground running in readiness for the by election that was aborted following the swearing in of Kananu as the Deputy Governor.

Kananu’s candidature will be viewed as an inspiration to women and young aspiring leaders across the country.

Other leaders who have shown interest in the seat include Embakasi East MP Babu Owino,Makongeni MP Peter Imwatok and former Dagoreti South MP Dennis Waweru.

She becomes the third woman to have shown interest in leading Nairobi with Margaret Wanjiru and the current Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris having tried her luck  in 2017 before tapping out in favor of the then Governor Kidero.

It will be the first time Kananu will be juggling her political might in the murky terrain that comes with a lot of financial burden.

Benjamin Kariuki a former councilor in the defunct Nairobi City Council told The Times that Kananu’s chances will depend heavily on what she is capable to achieve between now and 2022.

“She has the ball in her court and you never what will happen if she uses the opportunity presented before her to stamp her authority and have a strong mark,” he said.

At City Hall, observers say that she has cut herself the demeanor of a leader who is easy to access and one who is readily available to talk on phone. “ You can always have a serious conversation with her even on phone and sometimes a chitchat when she is onlne.I think she likes interacting and listening to what people say,” a Director at one of the departments said.

Kananu’s candidature will be viewed as an inspiration to women and young aspiring leaders across the country.

To win the seat, she will have to identify herself closely with the ruling Jubilee party which gave her the opportunity to serve in the position of Deputy Governor. She will also have to cascade well her relationship with the current MCAs and those aspiring and of course, she will need a heavy financial war chest.

For her, the Stars can only keep shining at least for now even as we expect a lot to unfold ahead of the 2022 general election.

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