Sonko picks Vivo MD as running mate

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By COLLINS OMULO
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By ELVIS ONDIEKI
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Jubilee Party’s nominee for Nairobi County governorship race, Senator Mike Sonko, has picked Vivo Energy boss Polycarp Igathe as his running mate in the August 8 General Election.

The choice of Mr Igathe, who is expected to be unveiled on Wednesday, was informed by the need for Mr Sonko to have a deputy well versed with corporate management, sources said on Tuesday.

It took the intervention of top Jubilee leadership for the University of Nairobi graduate, who has served as the regional managing director for East Africa at fast-moving consumer goods manufacturer Haco Tiger Brands, to accept to deputise the flamboyant legislator, the sources further revealed.

He has served as the chairman of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers and a director at the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, the apex body for the private sector in Kenya.

The Nairobi senator was to unveil his deputy at the party headquarters at Pangani, going by a tip to media houses at 1pm Tuesday, but journalists waited for many hours in vain.

A few women at the entrance were heard talking excitedly about Mr Sonko’s planned entry.

But by 3pm there was no sign of him as the Nation learnt that he was deep in consultations in Karen with a senior Jubilee leader.

When the Nation arrived at The Hub, in Karen, at around 4.30pm, guards said Mr Sonko and his convoy had left the premises after “putting on a show” with his motorcade.

Sources, meanwhile, confirmed that Mr Sonko and Mr Igathe met Deputy President William Ruto at his Karen office on Tuesday afternoon.

‘They came to consult the Deputy President in his capacity as the deputy party leader,” said a staffer at the DP’s office.

Mr Sonko heavily defeated former Gatanga Member of Parliament and 2013 presidential candidate Peter Kenneth at this month’s party nominations, polling over 160,000 votes.

However, Mr Sonko has had a tough time trying to convince leaders allied to the ruling party about his credentials to run the city county affairs with most of them not convinced with his academic qualifications and managerial experience.

He had been shunned by most business people as well as private sector personalities who have had doubts over his ability to run Nairobi.

Many see the senator as unfit for a top managerial job despite his massive following, mainly emanating from his support base, which is from residents in informal settlements.

BATTLE PERCEPTIONS
It was not lost on him, however, that he had to battle perceptions that his opponent was more qualified for the candidature, based on his experience as a top football administrator and a banker.

Mr Sonko publicly admitted his shortcomings. In a post on his Facebook timeline, he sought the help of his followers to determine who among the nine people he had in mind fit the bill as his running mate. Among them was Mr Igathe.

The list also contained politicians Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, Dennis Waweru and Millicent Omanga, educationist Janet Ouko, businessman Jimnah Mbaru, former Nairobi Town Clerk John Gakuo, former presidential candidate Prof James ole Kiyiapi and hotelier Raymond Matiba.

These misgivings about the former Makadara Member of Parliament prompted the intervention of top Jubilee leadership to step in and quell the growing murmurs that would have adversely affected his chances in the elections against the incumbent, Dr Evans Kidero of ODM.

It is said a meeting of Nairobi politicians at The Hub settled on Mr Igathe.

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