Naivasha is aflame with the exploits of one of its most controversial sons.
Senator Ben Paul Njoroge’s pronouncement that Central region will not automatically back Deputy President William Ruto come 2022 has catapulted him to the national limelight.
Born and brought up in Naivasha, Mr Njoroge is not new to controversy as he has on various occasions clashed with fellow leaders for all manner of reasons. On April 16 this year, the legislator did the unthinkable, according to Jubilee stalwarts, when he travelled to Kakamega to witness Ford K leader Moses Wetang’ula launch his presidential bid.
This was a big day for Mr Ruto, who was celebrating the end of his case at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
President Uhuru Kenyatta, and three other Kenyans who had been charged at the ICC had also chosen the day to mark the end of their cases with special prayers in Nakuru.
The senator later explained that he opted for the Wetang’ula fete to express solidarity with a fellow senator, who had invited him. Most of his Jubilee counterparts were in Nakuru.
Njoroge’s path to the Senate was not smooth sailing. Soon after the 2013 General Election, he went to court arguing that he was top of the The National Alliance (TNA) nomination list to Senate. He said the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission had no right to short-change him. Senators Harold Kipchumba and Linet Kemunto, who both have disabilities and were nominated by their parties to represent persons with disabilities, were kicked out by Lady Justice Rose Ougo, who ruled that they were not validly nominated.
In her judgement, Justice Ougo said the electoral commission had no mandate to substitute nominees that were in the first list with names listed afterwards, and ordered the commission to gazette Njoroge and Ms Goldliver Omondi as the duly nominated senators.
Njoroge joined politics in 1992 when he vied for Nakuru Kanu chairmanship. In 2003, former President Mwai Kibaki appointed him as a board member for the National Council for Persons with Disabilities.
One of his most publicised clashes took place early this year, when he differed with Naivasha MP John Kihagi over some treasure allegedly buried in an abandoned cave in Maraigushu. The bone of contention was claims that the cave was used as a hiding place by the British army during World War II and while leaving some goods had been left behind.
The senator supported a group of youths who wanted to dig up the cave and recover the goods, but Mr Kihagi said such a move would negatively affect a nearby source of water. Armed Administration Police officers had to guard the cave until the issue fizzled down and the recovery of the treasures was forgotten. Another person who has worked with the senator is Andrew Ndung’u Kihonge who represents persons with disabilities in Hellsgate Ward in Naivasha.
Mr Kihonge says that prior to his nomination by court as the senator they were good friends and were in court daily seeking justice.
A close confidant termed the senator as a controversial hustler who is ready to go to any length to achieve his goal and always speaks his mind.
“Previously he tried to vie for a seat as a councillor in Naivasha and at one time was the representative of persons with disabilities before joining Senate,” he said.
Owing to his statement last weekend, Njoroge is once again in the limelight.
Mwangi Muraya, a youth leader, said they resolved to ban the senator from carrying out any activities in Naivasha including holding meetings.
“Though his home is here, we have agreed that he will not hold any meeting here as we want peace and that is what we are calling for,” he said.
But Njoroge has blamed his enemies for the demonstrations over his comments regarding Ruto’s 2022 candidature. The senator has come out guns blazing saying his wars with the local liquor board were to blame for the ugly incidences witnessed in the lake side town.
‘I still stand by my comments on Sunday because I believe that we should concentrate on 2017 elections other than 2022,” he says.