Former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu when he was arrested during a demonstration
Former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu when he was arrested during a demonstration

By Reporter

From cringe-worthy statements such as suggesting that landlords should be forced to ‘divert rivers’ instead of having their property demolished; to being captured on video throwing stones at people he claimed were land grabbers, impeached Governor Ferdinand Waititu never fails to court controversy.

Waititu is currently the second governor under the 2010 Constitution to be impeached by the Senate.

The first was Embu Governor Martin Wambora, who got a lifeline after the court stopped his impeachment.

Waititu was born in 1962 and grew up in Kibra.

A fiery and vibrant politician, Waititu did all it took to get what he wanted.

He was an assistant minister for Water Services and Irrigation during President Mwai Kibaki’s regime.

One of the not-so-honourable moments he is remembered for is during his time as a deputy mayor and Councillor of the Nairobi City Council.

In 2012, he was captured on camera throwing stones at people he claimed were land grabbers.

Following graft and gross misconduct charges levelled against him, Waititu was impeached as governor paving way for his deputy James Nyoro to be sworn-in.

His appeal for the Senate’s mercy fell on deaf ears as the majority upheld the three charges levelled against him.

In August 2017, Waititu was elected as the Jubilee Party nominee for governor in Kiambu County after defeating William Kabogo, who had been the county chief.

Waititu won the poll with 353,604 votes against Kabogo’s 69,916.

Political life

Waititu completed his secondary school in 1981 at Dagoretti High School, where he obtained the Kenya Certificate of Education.

For his university education, Waititu says he went to Panjab University, but there was a court case following allegations he faked his certificate.

One academic at the institution confirmed Waititu schooled a the university, while another said his name was nowhere in their records.

Married to Susan Ndung’u, Waititu is a father of two girls Josephine Ndung’u and Monica Njeri Waititu.

Waititu began his political journey in 2002, when he was elected councilor for Njiru ward.

Embakasi MP

During the 2007-08 General Election, the late Mellitus Mugabe Were was elected as Member of Parliament for Embakasi constituency on an ODM ticket.

A few days later, Were was killed outside his house in Woodley estate.

When the seat was declared vacant, Waititu wasted no time running for the seat and he won the by-election, seeing him serve between 2008 and 2013.

Waititu was however suspended as an MP following incitement claims.

Waititu was reacting to the killing of a street child, allegedly by a Maasai security guard, for stealing a chicken in Nairobi’s Kayole suburb.

Environment CS Keriako Tobiko, then the Director of Public Prosecutions, ordered the immediate arrest of Waititu on grounds that statements would encourage violence.

Tobiko said Waititu’s remarks had incited violence and “feelings of hatred and hostility against the Maasai community”.

Then Interior CS Kato Ole Metito also called for the arrest of  Waititu.

Babayao, as Waititu is popularly refereed to and to which he legally changed his name, was however compelled to publicly apologise over the remarks after sharp criticism from several political quarters, including President Uhuru Kenyatta, then his party leader and Deputy Prime Minister.

In the 2013 General Election, Babayao re-emerged on the political scene when he vied for the Nairobi gubernatorial seat but lost to Evans Kidero.

A year later, Waititu was appointed as the Chairman of Athi Water Service Board, but the High Court stopped the appointment on grounds of integrity.

Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi ruled that she was satisfied with the urgent application filed by businessman Benson Riitho to temporarily stop Waititu from assuming office until the case was determined.

Riitho had claimed in his application that the Cabinet Secretary in charge of Environment, Water and Natural Resources Judy Wakhungu irregularly appointed Waititu to head the water board without considering the integrity of the former MP.

Ngugi declared Waititu unfit to hold public office and nullified his appointment.

Kabete MP

In February 2015, former Kabete Member of Parliament George Muchai died after he was attacked and shot dead by armed gunmen.

Muchai was shot in the wee hours of the morning at the Kenyatta Avenue-Uhuru Highway roundabout in Nairobi.

Two of the MP’s bodyguards and his driver also died.

As his constituents came to terms with the demise of their MP, the seat was declared vacant by the electoral body.

And yet again, Babayao gave it a try.

Though a voter had moved to court seeking to block Waititu’s candidature on Jubilee Alliance Party, the High Court rejected the bid.

Justice George Odunga dismissed the application, saying the court had no mandate to block anyone from participating in a by-election.

The judge upheld objections raised lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui, representing Waititu, that the issues raised by Geoffrey Kimathi in the petition could only be placed before the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Disputes Resolution Committee.

The judge said the court does not have the jurisdiction under electoral laws to make a finding on a nominee’s eligibility.

The voter had asked the court to stop Waititu from vying because he has pending integrity issues.

Kimathi wanted the court to hold that Waititu had been declared unfit to hold public office and should not vie for the parliamentary seat.

After the court battle, Babayao clinched the seat until 2017, when he announced his ambition to contest for the Kiambu gubernatorial seat.

Kiambu governor

When immediate former governor William Kabogo fell out of grace with Kiambu residents, Waititu grabbed the opportunity to run for the seat.

He won the 2017 election to become governor, but it was not long before the rift between he and his deputy James Nyoro came to the fore.

At one point, Nyoro threatened to resign accusing Waititu of running a one man show.

As the fighting continued, Waititu was placed on the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission radar over alleged questionable expenditure at the county that started with the controversial ‘Kaa Sober’ programme which gobbled about Sh1 billion without the county assembly’s approval.

He was also accused of irregular awarding of tenders worth Sh588 million and embezzlement of public funds.

In July last year, Waititu and his wife Susan went missing after DPP Noording Haji ordered their arrest over Sh588 million illegal tenders.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission said they raided all the residents of the governor but he was nowhere to be found.

The tender was for the upgrading of various gravel roads to bituminous service.

Other charges included engaging in a fraudulent practice in procurement, fraudulent acquisition of public property and money laundering.

Waititu was finally arrested after he presented himself at the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission offices in Nairobi.

It is from here that Waitutu’s woes escalated leading to his impeachment at the county assembly and the decision being upheld by the Senate.

Waititu on Thursday rushed to court to petition his impeachement.

The matter will be heard on Monday.

It remains to be seen whether he, like Wambora, will get a lifeline, or whether his fate has been sealed.