Nyoro bets big on Jiinue Fund to fend off Kiambu rivals

The governor is wooing the youth and women voters

In Summary
  • The soft spoken governor says his rivals have nothing to show 
  • The race has narrowed down to five candidates.
Governor James Nyoro addressing members of the minority communities living inRuiru on Sunday
Governor James Nyoro addressing members of the minority communities living inRuiru on Sunday
Image: John Kamau

Kiambu Governor James Nyoro is banking on his two-year record to trounce his four main opponents in the do-or-die duel for Kiambu governor's seat.

The governor is facing a big test to defend his seat from senator Kimani Wamatangi of Deputy President William Ruto's UDA party and Moses Kuria of Chama Cha Kazi who is affiliated to the DP's Kenya Kwanza coalition.

There is also former governor William Kabogo of Tujibebe Wakenya Party and Thika Town MP Patrick Wainaina, alias Jungle who is running as an independent.

Nyoro is running on the ruling Jubilee party ticket. 

With Jubilee allied to Azimio La Umoja One Kenya coalition, Nyoro is likely to benefit from thousands of votes from minority communities in the 1.2 million Kiambu vote bloc.

Kiambu has about 200k voters drawn from other communities allied to Azimio such as Kamba, Luo, Luhyia and Kisii in suburban areas like Ruaka, Gachie, Kinoo, Kikuyu, Limuru, Githurai, Kahawa, Mwihoko, Ruiru, Juja, Thika among others.

However, analysts say the race is a tight battle whose outcome would be influenced by a number of factors including track record and different voting demographics.

Analysts say with both Kuria and Jungle coming from the same coalition of Kenya Kwanza, they could split their votes and hand Nyoro a headstart in his bid for a fresh mandate.

Kabogo, the pioneer Kiambu governor, is also no push over but his recent and late entry into the Azimio La Umoja One Kenya and his backing of Raila Odinga's presidential bid could boost Nyoro.

Nyoro, a soft spoken politician, is a key linchpin in Raila's camp being among the five Mt Kenya governors now backing Raila in his battle against Ruto.

Political analyst and university political scientist James Njoroge, said the Kiambu battle will be shaped by at least three factors including track record, business sensitive programmes and the political affiliations.

"Kiambu is the business and agricultural hub of Nairobi's neighbourhood, the next governor must demonstrate how he will spur businesses through funding and enhancing the business environment," Njoroge said.

The university don insisted that the Raila and Ruto factor will also play a role as the country hurtles to next month's general election.

"That is why Kabogo may be a factor that could indirectly benefit Nyoro because the incumbent is viewed as a steadfast supporter of baba, and therefore Kabogo is a Johnny come lately,"  he said. 

Nyoro kept off early campaigns after he took over leadership of the county following the successful impeachment of his former boss Ferdinand Waititu.

However, in the last three months, Nyoro has hit the campaign trail, aggressively urging voters to hand him a 'five fresh' having served for over two years.

"My voters know what we have been able to do in the last two years, there is more that is pending and which I am determined to accomplish in the next five years if they give me that chance," Nyoro said in one of the interviews with a local station.

With the race having entered the crucial homestretch, Nyoro has intensified campaigns and now bets on his recently unveiled Sh1.3 billion Jiinue Fund for small business to bolster his record for a fresh mandate.

The fund is a strategic collaboration between the Kiambu county government and the Kenya Commercial Bank that advances small loans to small and medium enterprises.

In the deal, KCB advances the money to willing individuals and small entrepreneurs while the devolved government acts as a guarantor with Sh138 million acting as collateral.

Through the facility, groups can access loans of up to Sh300,000 and start up financing of up to Sh150,000 while existing MSMEs and saccos get financing of up to Sh1 million.

The move saw Wamatangi and Kuria recently host Ruto in separate events to launch their parallel Hustler's Funds as part of their strategy to counter Nyoro who unveiled his Jiinue Fund in June.

But beyond the battle for the thousands of entrepreneurs, analysts opine that different demographics are slowly shifting as the August 9 polls inches closer.

Nyoro, who officially started campaigns after he was cleared by IEBC, has insisted he has done well in the slightly over two years including over 250Km of tarmac roads across Kiambu and provided 300,000 farmers with high quality maize seeds.

"We have improved piped water to residents of Kiambu, built three hospitals, and five markets." Nyoro said he never spoke much in the last two years because 'I was at work'." My predecessor had mismanaged the county and I had a lot on my plate to restore order in the county," he said.

Following Waititu's exit, the Nyoro administration was confronted with huge pending bills, corruption, poor services, demotivated stuff, and poor service delivery, he said.

Kabogo, a household name, comes from the populous Ruiru subcounty and popular among youth and women groups.

However, his defection to Raila's camp, appears to suggest that the ground is shifting and therefore the need to align himself with the people after months of sibling rivalry in Kenya Kwanza.

UDA which has fielded Wamatangi has been very clear they want their party above any affiliate party and would campaign for an UDA candidate and even want six-piece suit voting, which some Kiambu residents are not willing to embrace.

Analysts have opined that voters  under the age of 35 who were Kabogo's biggest following were not ready for six-piece, because what they want to make their own choices.

"It is clear that some of Kabogo’s followers who have been hurt by UDA might cross over and vote for Nyoro to avenge," Njoroge said.

Nyoro has said while his rivals are promising to deliver hustlers funds, he has already done his part and unveiled the Sh1.3 billion Jiiune Fund, advanced at a low rate of six per cent.

His allies have termed this a game changer against rivals with a big chunk of the youths excited by the move.

Political analyst Mwangi Njeru says some of Nyoro's rivals may have overestimated their popularity because of the two years lull in which the governor kept off politics as he worked.

"For instance, many view Kuria as a fighter of their rights, a defender and a champion of their issues but perhaps think he could have done a better jobs in the Senate as an oversight, not a manager,"  Njeru said.

But Kuria, a close ally of Ruto has often defended himself as an economist who understands the interventions that needs to be done at the county level through a good manager to change people's lives for the better.

Jungle was very popular because he really was in the initial UDA wave that was sweeping Central Kenya but his loss to Wamatangi and his decision to run as an independent has complicated his game plan.

Initially, his supporters believed that his Thika base would rally him to victory in UDA but his loss signalled that the youth votes would have revolted as they angle for the Jiinue Fund.

Recent polls have shown that the populous Ruiru, Thika and Juja subcounties have been turned into battle grounds with Nyoro doing well as his rivals who hail from there.

The candidates have intensified their campaigns to woo the majority youth and women voters.

Nyoro is pushing a Nyoro care and has promised to have an education fund worth Sh2.5 billion for needy children of single mothers and children from vulnerable families.


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