2022 NIGHTMARE

Joho, Kingi differ on coastal party, unity talk on shaky ground

Kilifi governor roots for a new political outfit to unite region but his Mombasa counterpart and his allies insist that they are in ODM to stay.

In Summary

• Both leaders are serving their second and last terms as governors and have since declared interest in the presidency.

• On Saturday, Kingi criticised Mombasa politicians for declaring that they would not abandon ODM for the yet-to-be-declared coast-based party.

Kilifi county assembly speaker Jimmy Kahindi and Governor Amason Kingi during a meeting with MCAs in Kilifi on Saturday.
UNITY BID: Kilifi county assembly speaker Jimmy Kahindi and Governor Amason Kingi during a meeting with MCAs in Kilifi on Saturday.
Image: ALPHONCE GARI
Former Lamu Governor Issa Timammy and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho during a rally in Lamu on Saturday.
PUSHING FORWARD: Former Lamu Governor Issa Timammy and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho during a rally in Lamu on Saturday.
Image: ALPHONCE GARI
Jomvu MP Badi Twalib. He supports Governor Hassan Joho's presidential ambitions.
ALLY: Jomvu MP Badi Twalib. He supports Governor Hassan Joho's presidential ambitions.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO
Said 'Saido' Abdalla, a member of Governor Hassan Joho's inner circle.
LOYALTY: Said 'Saido' Abdalla, a member of Governor Hassan Joho's inner circle.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO

The quest for unity of purpose in the Coast region is on shaky ground.

This comes as sharp ideological differences emerge between unity proponents—Kilifi governor Amason Kingi and his Mombasa counterpart Hassan Joho.

While Kingi is advocating a Coast-based political party, Joho, who is one of the two ODM deputy party leaders, seems uncomfortable abandoning the party.

Both leaders are serving their second and last terms as governors and have since declared interest in the presidency.

On Saturday, Kingi openly criticised Mombasa politicians for declaring that they will not abandon ODM for the yet-to-be-declared Coast-based party.

Kingi was reacting to statements by Joho and Mvita MP Abdulswamad Sharif Nassir who said recently they will not ditch the Orange as they had invested a lot of resources in the party.

Kingi spoke during a meeting with 54 MCAs from his county to discuss the BBI and the idea of a Coast political party.

“I have also invested so many resources in ODM but am ready to abandon it after reading the mood of voters in the region who are for a coastal party,” he said.

In Mombasa, Joho’s allies are pushing him to focus his efforts on selling himself in other regions and leave the Coast region to them.

“The Coast region has already accepted him because he has been fighting for them at the national stage,” said Said ‘Saido’ Abdalla at a meeting in Nyali on Saturday.

Saido, who holds a lot of sway in Joho’s inner circle, said he will ensure the Mombasa governor gets 90 per cent of the region's two million votes.

Jomvu MP Badi Twalib on Saturday said the time has come for the region to stand up and be counted on the national political stage.

“At the Coast, we don’t see anyone else who should vie for the presidency except Ali Hassan Joho,” said Twalib at Miritini World Bank Primary School where he issued secondary school bursaries worth Sh12.67 million.

The lawmaker has recently developed a close relationship with the governor, accompanying him to almost all his functions across the region.

Already, Joho has started making moves aimed at bringing the region’s leaders together.

On February 1, he brought together 26 MPs at a hotel in Nyali to discuss Coast unity. He co-hosted the meeting with Kingi.

A week later, he met all MCAs from Mombasa county at Bahari Beach Hotel, focusing on the BBI agenda. He said charity begins at home.

On Saturday, Twalib and Saido said they are ready to be Joho’s foot soldiers to push him to State House.

“This time, we will be there together with the others so that when people are counted, we will also be counted,” Twalib said in Miritini.

In Nyali, Saido said: “We want Joho to spend his energy in Nyanza, Western, Nairobi and Central. Let us stay at home and ensure the house is clean and everything is in order.”

As Kingi met 54 MCAs, Joho was with over 16 MPs and senators, including six legislators from Kilifi county, in Lamu to kick-start his presidential campaign and push for the passing of the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Interestingly, Joho, in his speech, steered clear of the idea of a Coast-based political party.

He focused on his presidential bid, unity of the region and the BBI, urging residents to reject the 'hustler' politics championed by Deputy President William Ruto.

The legislators jetted in Lamu aboard two charter flights. They held a rally at Mkunguni Square on Lamu Island.

Joho said the region has communities from all over the country and the unity required is for all those who were born in the region to come together and help him go for the top seat. He also warned against ethnic profiling of leaders as it could undermine their unity quest.

Last week, governors Joho, Kingi, Taita Taveta’s Granton Samboja and Tana River’s Dhadho Godhana met in Taita Taveta and resolved to work together to unite the region. Conspicuously missing were Salim Mvurya (Kwale) and Fahim Twaha (Lamu); they sent apologies. 

At Saturday's rally in Lamu, Johio was alone. The other county chiefs did not attend and it was not clear why—this time no apologies. 

Separately, addressing journalists after meeting MCAs in Kilifi, Kingi said Joho was wrong to insist on staying in ODM led by Raila Odinga and still try to push for unity of the Coast region.

He said if all governors stand firm to claim to have invested in their parties and so are not willing to abandon them for other parties, Coast will not achieve unity.

Samboja was elected on a Wiper ticket, while Mvurya is a Jubilee-elected governor together with Twaha. Godhana is an ODM governor.

Kingi questioned how the region will package itself to speak in one voice ahead of next year's general election if they cannot come together to form one party.

“The new party will have a national outlook with local roots and will have membership from all regions in Kenya,” he said.

"We had set June as the deadline to unveil it but it is too far, the new party will be here next month.”

Those in attendance included Kilifi county assembly speaker Jimmy Kahindi, who said MCAs had agreed with Kingi they will have their own party to compete with others going forward.

Asked whether elected leaders joining the party will resign from their parties, Kahindi said the issue will be addressed after the outfit is unveiled.

In Lamu, Joho was accompanied by Kilifi senator Stewart Madzayo, Issa Boy (Kwale), Mohamed Faki (Mombasa), Christine Zawadi (nominated), Kilifi Woman Rep Gertrude Mbeyu and Mombasa’s Asha Hussein.

Also present were Likoni MP Mishi Mboko, Ganze’s Teddy Mwambire, Kilifi South’s Ken Chonga, Rabai's William Kamoti, Mvita’s Abdulswamad Sharif Nassir, Wundanyi’s Dan Mwashako, Lamu West’s Stanley Muthama, Mombasa county’s Zulekha Hassan, Matuga’s Kassim Tandaza, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, among other leaders.

Joho said he will first unite the region and visit all the six coastal counties before embarking on a countrywide vote-hunt. “Those who think my presidential ambition is a joke should know that the journey has just begun; it's time for us to be in the top seat,” he said.

He told residents to avoid being divided on ethnic grounds, reiterating that Coast has people from all communities.

All legislators who spoke during the rally his presidential bid and promised to join him in his campaigns in the region and beyond.

Joho said a leader from the minority groups is better placed to unite the country and asked other leaders to support him so he can become the first president from the minority communities.