Don’t underrate Wanjigi, he can pull a surprise


Jimmy Wanjigi
Joseph Mutua Ndonga
mutuandonga@yahoo.com

Worth Noting:

  • We recall how our kin suffered during tribal clashes of 1992, 1997 and 2007. This happened at a time when Ruto was serving in President Moi’s government and many considered him to be a key insider. He later joined the Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Party [ODM].
  • Yes, in the latter two election related chaos, Ruto was not implicated. But as an insider, many doubted the planning could have happened behind his back.  For now, we had no option other than to support him because we do not have an alternative candidate.
  • Therefore, Wanjigi’s announcement is most welcome. He may not be the best candidate but this is a wake-up call to other leaders from our region eyeing the same seat to come out and declare their interest. This will give us chance to choose the best-suited candidate.

A few days ago, the Nairobi City billionaire Jimmy Wanjigi declared that will vie for the presidency, joining the crowded list of those eyeing the position.

When I heard this, the first question that came to my mind is. Does he stand any chance? For now, the majority of the people from Mount Kenya region where he hails from are supporting the Deputy President William Ruto. Can he change this narrative?

I had a candid conversation with a cross-section of Kikuyus residing in the Githurai estate. Of course, the opinion was divided. A good number of them argued. We are not supporting the DP because we believe he had a good vision for this country.

We recall how our kin suffered during tribal clashes of 1992, 1997 and 2007. This happened at a time when Ruto was serving in President Moi’s government and many considered him to be a key insider. He later joined the Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Party [ODM].

Yes, in the latter two election related chaos, Ruto was not implicated. But as an insider, many doubted the planning could have happened behind his back.  For now, we had no option other than to support him because we do not have an alternative candidate.

Therefore, Wanjigi’s announcement is most welcome. He may not be the best candidate, but this is a wake-up call to other leaders from our region eyeing the same seat to come out and declare their interest. This will give us the chance to choose the best-suited candidate.

To some, Jimi Wanjigi is not person who can be underrated.  Apart from being a shrewd schemer and power broker, he is a tycoon and well-educated. Besides curving a niche in the world of business, he was a key player during the second term of President Mwai Kibaki’s government. He connected his Grand Coalition Government to Chinese Road and Bridge Corporation [CRBC], which had agreed to carry out Standard Gauge Railway [SGR] feasibility study at own cost and later build the modern line.

Wanjigi was so connected that he was instrumental in securing Sh1.5 billion grant from China which saw CRBC build an additional lane from JKIA to Nyayo Staduim and improve the road to Gigiri, the headquarters of UN.

As a close of ally of Professor George Saitoti, then National Security cabinet minister, reports indicated he had clinched yet another lucrative tender to procure and supply guns and related security equipment to Kenyan Police and Kenya Defense Forces [KDF].

In the run-up to 2013 General Election, he also played an instrumental role of reaching out to leading political heavy weights. He would host them at his Muthaiga home or in his spacious Kwacha office located in Westland. The negotiations culminated in the birth of a number of political deals.

He finally made a breakthrough he when he hosted Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto at his home. The duo agreed to form the Jubilee party, which catapulted them to power.

Mr Wanjigi wanted them to reciprocate by retaining him as a key player in securing business deals with CRBC. His eyes were specifically trained on SGR, since he was at the centre of the negotiations meant to secure the funding. He had already convinced China that SGR was a viable project; it would revive our economy and turn around the fortunes of Kenyans in a big way.

As the fate would be, Kibaki and Raila term ended before the final statutory documents had been signed.

For the reasons that were not made public, the UhuRuto government elbowed Wanjigi out of this deal.

Though the son of Moi-era cabinet minister, Maina Wanjigi, choose to keep quiet on this matter, one thing was clear. He did not take it lightly.  He did not quit the Jubilee party immediately, and many reasoned this was because he thought the duo would change their mind. When he realized the door had been completely shut, he quit in a huff to join Raila’s ODM party.

As Raila’s top confidante, he played a key role in boardroom negotiations that culminated in the formation of the National Super Alliance [NASA] coalition. In 2017 polls, the outfit almost sent UhuRuto packing.

 

Joseph Mutua Ndonga is a Political Analyst and Blogger

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