Politics

The fearless ambition of James Nyoro

The fearless ambition of James Nyoro

James Karanja Nyoro, the Deputy Governor of Kiambu County who is poised to be the next boss, is a man who never shied away from confronting his boss Ferdinand Waititu.

He was constantly in the headlines disapproving 'Baba Yao' without a flinch.

He has a reputation as a hardened technocrat as well as a formidable political opponent.

A graduate of Agricultural Economics from the University of Nairobi, the career analyst furthered his studies at London’s Wye College.

He went on to forge an impressive career, including serving as the Principal Analyst at Tegemeo Institute, a policy think-tank affiliated to Egerton University, for almost 20 years.

While there, he was in charge of policy research and advocacy in agricultural and rural development.

His duty as the Executive Director for the institute saw him identify policy needs and also developed many research points for the private sector and various governments.

He also served as country and policy advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington.

Between 2008 and 2012, he was Managing Director of the Rockefeller Foundation for African Region whose offices are based in Nairobi.

He then served as senior food security and climate change adviser to the Presidency and was based at Deputy President William Ruto's office.

However, Dr Nyoro walked out of the job with reports at the time pointing towards his frustration with lack of professionalism.

Dr Nyoro also contributed to the formulation of Kenya’s Vision 2030.

FORAY INTO POLITICS

The technocrat's first shot at the Kiambu gubernatorial seat was in 2013 when challenged then Governor William Kabogo but lost. Mr Kabogo garnered 487,631 votes against Dr Nyoro’s 241,658.

He stayed out of the political field and was then that he was appointed the senior advisory job in 2016. He also served as an advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.

Not one to temper his political ambitions, Dr Nyoro, together with David Gakuyo, John Mugwe and Aquiline Njoko formed a political party, United for Kiambu, to remove then incumbent governor, William Kabogo.

Nyoro was the party’s gubernatorial contestant but decided, after much deliberation with his co-founders, to cede his position to Jubilee’s Ferdinand Waititu who was more popular at the grassroots level.

The duo formed a powerful 'political tsunami' that sent Kabogo packing with a wide margin. Dr Nyoro was officially sworn in as the Deputy Governor of Kiambu.

TROUBLE IN PARADISE

However, not long into their political marriage, trouble hit paradise and the cordial relationship that had existed between the two started to sour.

So bad were their differences that at one point, they exchanged bitter words in public at an event graced by DP Ruto.

Their quarrels grew and in-house wrangles became the order of the day at Kiambu County headquarters until in July 2019 when a court order blocked Waititu from accessing his office until a graft-related case against him was heard and determined.

Waititu was charged with Sh588 million corruption case alongside his wife and other senior county officials.

The court disagreed with Mr Waititu's legal team when they argued that his absence would lead to a leadership vacuum at the County, and Dr Nyoro subsequently took over as acting Kiambu Governor.

At this point, Mr Waititu's political career took a nosedive. The county’s ward representatives held a vote and majority elected to impeach him from office in December last year.

It wasn't all rosy for Dr Nyoro either. He faced hard times at the hands of Kiambu MCAs loyal to the embattled Waititu, who sought to impeach him just a few days after “Baba Yao” was impeached. However, he survived as their threats never materialised.

Waititu’s fate was sealed at Senate Wednesday when majority of the legislators voted to uphold his impeachment.

With these events, Dr Nyoro awaits his turn at the helm of Kiambu County. But is Waititu really down and out? Only time will tell.