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Leaders who shaped 2018 political calendar.

figure By OSCAR OBONYO The political scene in 2018 has been fast and dynamic, like never before. It has left many casualties in its trail and also created heroes alike.

In this light-hearted piece, we look back at some of the political figures whose acts stood out as representative of the political calendar or spread mirth on the political scene. FERDINAND WAITITU Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, aka Clifford Ndung'u, has over the years fashioned himself as the defender of the common mwananchi.

In January, he officially changed his name to Ferdinand Waititu Ndung'u Baba Yao, through a gazette notice. The "Baba Yao" surname is meant to demonstrate the politician's father figure, which he has exhibited to his political supporters over the past few years.

This year, Mr Waititu also acquired the fame of being "the man who moves rivers". This follows his protest against demolitions of buildings in Nairobi built on riparian land, by suggesting the rivers should instead be moved.

In February, the people's defender was at it again, this time challenging Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu to a physical duel: "Hakuna kusamehea mtu. Mimi na yeye tutashikana makoti, hapa kwa hapa, mpaka yeye alipe zile malorry zilichomwa kwa sababu ya 'incitement' yake (There is no forgiving anyone.

I will deal with her individually until she pays for the charcoal lorries burnt because of her incitement). Ms Ngilu had earlier called on residents to impound and burn lorries transporting charcoal from Kitui.

All in all, Baba Yao's notion of moving rivers is the most hilarious which makes him stand out as Kenya's most positive dreamer of 2018.MIKE MBUVI SONKOThe Nairobi Governor is the indisputable public cop of 2018. He has operated undercover, sneaking on his officers at the county, including influential businesses and close friends. Sonko not only records their conversations, but leaks the same to the public thereafter.

Sonko once looped in President Uhuru Kenyatta in his fetish for recording confidential conversations. The governor's high-profile victims this year include his Kiambu counterpart Waititu, and Nairobi tycoons Praful Kumar and Mike Maina.

In his leaked conversation with Waititu, Sonko undertakes to release the Kiambu governor's wife from police custody for flouting building construction rules in the city. In August, Sonko shared a recording of tml" target="_blankKumar attempting to bribe him with Sh1 million to allow him add two more floors to his hotel in Gigiri.

And in a recording doing the rounds on social media this month, Sonko hurls insults at Maina, accusing him of using fake documents to claim ownership of a 20-acre parcel of land in Kayole. Sonko maintains that this is his style of fighting corruption and impunity at City Hall, which somehow qualifies him to be the public cop of the year.

BONI KHALWALEFor the 15 years he has served in Parliament two terms in the National Assembly and one term in the Senate the self-styled "mtetezi wa wanyonge (champion of the vulnerable)" has tried to live up to the expectations of his admirers. And as the self-appointed voice of the voiceless, Dr Khalwale earned himself accolades of a giant slayer by daring and charging at the powerful like a bullfighter his moniker.

For many years, Deputy President William Ruto was one of the bullfighter's punching bags. During the 2013 and 2017 electoral campaigns, Dr Khalwale particularly worked up the crowds with sensational claims linking Ruto to the Sh8 billion, tml" target="_blank134-acre Karen land scandal and for "grabbing 100 acres of land from my poor kinsman", Adrian Muteshi, among other corruption claims.

Come 2017, after losing the gubernatorial race against Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Dr Khalwale went underground in what he explains as: "After running such a blistering race, I had to cool off my heels." And when the bullfighter finally resurfaced, he was totally dehorned and limping to a new tune of Ruto his erstwhile political enemy.

And for his radical U-turn, the bullfighter clinches the trophy of political unpredictability.MILLIE MABONA ODHIAMBORemember that memorable scene in December 2016 of Mbita MP Millie Mabona Odhiambo walking bare feet her shoes in her hands to the National Assembly? The police had cordoned off the area for fear of eruption of chaos, during a special sitting to deliberate on amendments to the electoral laws.

Kenyans immediately flocked to the social media with mock illustrations linking Millie's stride to that of Johnnie Walker, the popular brand of Scotch whisky. Celebrated by the Opposition and loathed by the government-friendly party, Millie unleashed a tirade of unprintable abuses at the President a trademark political approach that has sustained her over the years and which guaranteed her re-election in 2017. There is no denying the fiery legislator is a different breed.

But the vocal politician has since lost her voice and the Johnnie Walker majestic stride thanks to the March 9 famous handshake. Unlike Khalwale, she is yet to find her political footing or an alternative politician to back, other than Baba (Raila Odinga).

Judging from her past record, Millie closes the year as the most muted politician. DAVID OLE SANKOKWith his bright coloured signature suits, with stripes of the national flag, David ole Sankok stands out more as a uniformed parliamentary orderly than a legislator.

He claims the national colours are meant to promote patriotism, yet Sankok is one of the most abusive and divisive politicians in Kenya.His pet target is opposition leader Raila Odinga and this year he unleashed a bagful of venomous insults at the ODM party leader.

The MP recently confessed on Radio Citizen's live show that helliphellip "kumchokoza na kumshambulia Raila ni moja kati ya kazi nilizopewa baada ya uteuzi (bashing Raila is one of my roles)," in reference to Jubilee's decision to nominate him to Parliament.And his vitriol is spread across political parties.

During the gender rule debate, the MP stirred up the rage of female politicians by declining to support the affirmative action Bill "for slay queens to slay their way into the National Assembly, Senate or County Assemblies". Never mind that Sankok, who walks with the aid of crutches, is a beneficiary of affirmative action.

For his mixed signals, Sankok goes unchallenged as this year's most slippery legislator. JUNET MOHAMEDWhen it comes to political metamorphosis, few can match the progression the Suna East MP has undergone over the past 10 years.

From a Mayor of Migori Town to member of Parliament, Junet has emerged as a strong political player in the Opposition. A member of the Somali ethnic group, Junet not only speaks fluent Dholuo but, as colleagues in Luo Nyanza have observed, "he is more Luo and militant in defending the Luo nation and Mr Odinga" than most local politicians.

Today the youthful MP is Minority Chief Whip in the National Assembly, as well as director of elections of the giant opposition party, ODM. Junet has also emerged as a close confidante of Mr Odinga, and was the sole politician who accompanied the Opposition leader to Harambee House during the famous handshake with President Kenyatta.

These latest developments have totally reshaped Junet's demeanour. From a streetwise and combative politician, Junet has become calmer and diplomatic overnight, unwilling to discuss "sensitive governmental issues" a development that qualifies him as the most transformed politician.

ANNE WAIGURUAs Devolution minister in President Kenyatta's first administration, Ms Waiguru acquired the nickname of "Iron Lady thanks to her strong influence and closeness to the powers that be.But at the peak of her troubles over the National Youth Service scandal in the last Parliament, she melted into near oblivion after being shunned by political heavyweights including the DP and Mr Odinga.

But the "cat walker", as she was sarcastically described by Ruto, has proved to be the number one political personality in epitomising the handshake deal.She has literally walked to offices of her political nemesis and those she did not get along with, to build bridges.

Having patched up differences with Ruto, Waiguru has knocked at the offices of Mr Odinga, whom she had sued for "character assassination", and those of the original "iron lady of Gichugu", Kirinyaga County, Ms Martha Karua. Waiguru and Karua locked horns in a hotly contested gubernatorial poll for Kirinyaga.

For her building bridges efforts, she is the political peacemaker of the year.
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Publication:Daily Nation, Kenya (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:Dec 30, 2018
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