Tigania East MP Mpuru Aburi enjoys keeping his political rivals on the edge – he has been a rabble-rouser since the 1980s.
Despite being the only prominent Meru politician to publicly endorse Governor Kawira Mwangaza during campaigns for the August elections, the friendship has ended.
But Mr Aburi, who was a stern critic of former governor Kiraitu Murungi, was cautious in campaigning for Ms Mwangaza and only used sign language when he needed to make public his preferred gubernatorial candidate.
During the inauguration of Governor Mwangaza, an excited Mr Aburi arrived when everyone had taken their seats, as is his norm, and charged towards the dais to give the governor a generous hug.
After Ms Mwangaza’s inauguration ceremony, Mr Aburi accompanied her to her new office and led a passionate prayer for the ‘cleansing and exorcising of all forms of evil’ in the county headquarters.
However, the two are now bitter rivals, resorting to using public gatherings and forums to exchange barbs.
If he does not reconcile with Governor Mwangaza, she will be the third governor Mr Aburi is declaring war against.
Mr Aburi cut ties with former governor Peter Munya two years after his election and fell out with Mr Murungi after one year in office.
As a result of his falling-out with Mr Munya, Mr Aburi had passionately backed the election of Mr Murungi in 2017 at the expense of his reelection.
At the height of his onslaught against Mr Murungi in 2019, Mr Aburi coined the slogan ‘Nopeu’ (disappear), a Kimeru word implying ‘Murungi must go’.
It is out of this word that Mr Aburi and his supporters coined the National Ordinary Peoples Empowerment Union (Nopeu) party, which he used to reclaim the Tigania East parliamentary seat.
His son Rodgers Kipembe is the Nopeu secretary-general.
On Wednesday, the dispute between Mr Aburi and Governor Mwangaza escalated after her husband, Murega Baicu, accused Mr Aburi of blackmailing her.
Addressing a meeting at Mbaranga in Tigania East, Mr Baicu claimed the genesis of the falling-out was a disagreement over employment, road contracts and payment of pending bills owed to Mr Aburi.
“The reason Mpuru Aburi has turned against the governor is that he wanted his wife to be given a county executive docket. He also wanted road contracts for his 12 companies,” Mr Baicu claimed.
“On the first day the governor took office, Mr Aburi brought a pending bill of more than Sh10 million for his TV station. The pending bills cannot be paid until they are audited and verified.”
But speaking on Wednesday evening on Meru FM, a vernacular station, Mr Aburi denied the allegation and instead accused Mr Baicu of disrespecting him.
“How is it possible to own 12 companies? The governor’s husband is clueless on these matters. It is Murega who was asking for 12 companies so that he can use them to channel money. I refused because this is money laundering,” Mr Aburi claimed.
He also denied pushing for his wife to be appointed member of the County Executive Committee.
“My wife is managing layers, which produce 60,000 eggs a day and six dairy cattle. She is also running a school with 650 pupils. She makes up to Sh200,000 a day,” he said.
“My son, who vied for Speaker, is a businessman and man enough to fight for his space. My daughter is also in business. They are uttering blatant lies.”
But Mr Baicu accused the Tigania East MP of inciting members of the county assembly to fight the governor after his request for favours were rejected.
Deputy Governor Isaac Mutuma added: “Even if he kicks off a campaign against the governor, the people are on our side. They have prepared an impeachment motion while others are collecting signatures to dissolve the county government. All this is because the governor has refused to allow looting of public resources.”
Governor Mwangaza dismissed Mr Aburi’s assertion that he contributed to her win, arguing that she fought alone throughout the campaign.
“Mpuru Aburi should not lie to anyone. He started using gestures in my support two weeks before the election after realising that the ground had shifted in my favour. He did not influence any vote,” the governor said.
She said Mr Aburi has a habit of destabilising governors, having fought the Munya and Murungi administrations.
She also claimed that the MP had sought to have his relatives employed in the county government.
“He turned against governor Munya and supported Kiraitu Murungi. No sooner Kiraitu was elected, then he started campaigning against him,” Ms Mwangaza said.
“With only three months in office, he has started fighting me. If he continues fighting me, he will be the loser.”
Mr Aburi accuses the governor of poor leadership and unfair distribution of resources.