Sudi drama at Wilson Airport 'linked to funding of DP's campaigns'

Sudi drama at Wilson Airport 'linked to funding of DP's campaigns'

Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi at the ATPU headquarters along Ngong Road in Nairobi on August 7, 2021. Mr Sudi was recently involved in a fracas at the Wilson Airport while in the company of British businessman Michael Spencer and a former Tanzanian minister Lazaro Nyalandu.

Photo credit: Sile Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

The fracas at Wilson Airport, Nairobi, involving Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi and two foreigners could be linked to the funding of Deputy President William Ruto’s election campaigns, it has emerged.

British businessman Michael Spencer and Mr Lazaro Nyalandu, the former Tanzanian Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, were in the company of Mr Sudi during the standoff at the airport on Wednesday.

The MP caused a scene by insisting on using the VIP lounge without his bags and those of Mr Spencer and Mr Nyalandu being inspected.

The three had arrived at the airport from Eldoret aboard an East African Air Charters plane at 11am, according to a passenger manifest seen by the Sunday Nation.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s allies – Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny and his Ndaragwa colleague Jeremiah Kioni – said Dr Ruto’s campaign teams are telling investors that they will form the next government so as to get campaign money.

“They no longer have resources and have to blackmail people and lie to potential investors,” Mr Kutuny said.

“They have been threatening to kick out certain investors who don’t give them money now when they take power.”

Mr Kioni said just the DPs allies have been bragging of having the numerical strength in the National Assembly and Senate and are using the same approach with investors to get funding.

“I believe they have conned people locally and have now gone international. Without doubt, they will be using this method to solicit money from foreigners. That  is why you see them with foreigners, promising them investment opportunities,” said Mr Kioni.

Engaging investors

Though some of Dr Ruto’s lieutenants term the allegations “propaganda”, Murang’a Senator Irung’u Kang’ata told the Sunday Nation that the DP and his team have begun engaging investors.

“It is true we are talking to foreigners because we intend to be a pro-investors government. One does not need to associate with us to benefit because the business environment will be good for everyone. We will deregulate the economy, lower taxes, remove red-tape and all forms of trade barriers,” Mr Kang’ata said.

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua and his Kimilili colleague Didmus Barasa said the DP’s allies have never promised anyone investment opportunities.

“When did we talk to those investors? This is mere propaganda,” Mr Gachagua said.

Though Mr Sudi refused to comment on the airport saga, he has on many occasions accused the government of frustrating the DP’s 2022 campaign fundraising.

The Kapseret MP cites the deportation of Turkish businessman Harun Aydin, who Dr Ruto last year said was unfairly treated because of his association with him.

“The plan to block Ruto getting campaign money started in 2017. They started by ensuring Cabinet Secretaries associated with him were dismissed,” said Mr Sudi, who was on Dr Ruto’s botched trip to Uganda in August 2021.

“Any investor that came close to the DP was vanquished. This is aimed at destroying any channel that can give us campaign funds.”

Airport drama

But the foreigners at the heart of the Wilson Airport drama are deeply involved in politics back home.

Both belong to the ruling parties in their countries. While Mr  Nyalandu has been elected MP three times, Mr Spencer is into political party funding.

Mr Spencer, who is his 60s, was in 2016 described as “Cameron’s broker buddy” by London’s Sunday Times newspaper.

It was in reference to his closeness with David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister from 2010 to 2016. Mr Cameron led the Conservative Party, which has in the past been financed by Mr Spencer.

He was the party treasurer from 2006 to 2010.

According to the 2021 Sunday Times Rich List, Mr Spencer is valued at £1.2 billion (Sh184.3 billion).

He has a wide array of business interests, from finance, insurance to wealth management.

Another of his interests, which might connect his paths with Mr Nyalandu, is his stake in a London-based natural resources investment firm that has “invested in a number of offshore oil and gas assets in the UK and is focussed on realising the additional exploration potential of this proven hydrocarbon province” as stated on its website.

Mr Spencer owns Sirai House, a lodge in Borana conservancy, Laikipia county.

He told the Business Daily in 2018 that he has two houses in Kenya. He was the main sponsor of the Kenya Derby, a horse competition at Ngong Racecourse, that year in which his horse won.

“Doing things that I enjoy, that I think are of value and exciting gives me pleasure – like breeding horses and building a business in Nairobi. Building small things that can give you as much pleasure as big ones,” he said.

Mr Nyalandu was the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) MP for Singida North constituency from 2000 to 2017.

The politician in his early 50s resigned from CCM in November 2017 and joined Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema).

He wanted to be the Chadema, presidential candidate for the  October 2020 election but lost to Tundu Lissu in the primaries.

Mr Nyalandu contested the Singida North constituency seat but lost to CCM’s Abeid Ighondo.

A month after losing the election, he was involved in a standoff with Tanzanian authorities at the Kenyan border.

Longido District Commissioner Frank Mwaisumbe said Mr Nyalandu was held at Namanga border for not having the required travel documents.

“We have asked him to bring the documents. He will be taken to court if he fails to,” Mr Mwaisumbe said.

In April last year, Mr Nyalandu switched from Chadema to CCM, saying he had returned home. He  thanked President Samia Hassan Suluhu for forgiving him.

Campaign funding

Mr Spencer and Mr Nyalandu flew from Eldoret to Nairobi on Thursday.

Mr Sudi caused a scene when he insisted that their bags should not be inspected.

Prof Ken Oluoch, who heads the Political Science department at Moi University, and University of Nairobi’s Herman Manyora, say the shoe was on Dr Ruto’s foot, having been part of a government that cracked down on the opposition.

Mr Manyora said the DP once insisted that the Raila Odinga-led opposition account for money it received and from who.

“No country can allow you to get campaign funding in a shadowy manner. This is politics and if your opponent can frustrate you, he will happily do so as long as it does not break the law,” Mr Manyora said.

“State and system have been frustrating others and Ruto is receiving his share. Ruto was part of the system that frustrated Raila. Let him face it.”

There was uproar in the opposition in 2017 when Kenya deported American John Aristotle Philips, Canadian Andreas Katsouris and two unnamed Ghanaians who were said to be running the opposition’s election tallying centre, just days to the vote.

The opposition also accused government officials of harassing businessman Jimi Wanjigi, who was thought of as a significant financier in the campaign.

At some point, Mr Odinga’s running mate Kalonzo Musyoka complained of harassment in his Kalonzo Musyoka Foundation. Mr Musyoka called it a witch hunt.