Wanjigi courts Oparanya for 2027 running mate


Safina Party Leader Jimmy Wanjigi. [File, Standard]

Safina Party Leader Jimmy Wanjigi has expressed interest in contesting for the presidency in 2027 alongside ODM Deputy Party Leader Wycliffe Oparanya.

Speaking at a funeral in Butere, Wanjigi said he needed a solid leader like Oparanya now that the Orange Party’s leader Raila Odinga is likely to land the African Union Commission President’s job, if he is to beat President William Ruto.

Oparanya is currently pitted against former Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho over who will take over from Raila if he is elected to the AUC post. 

Wanjigi said Ruto’s rule is a thorn in the flesh of Kenyans due to a radical taxation regime that has made life extremely unbearable for the masses.

“This mission calls for a tough opposition led by a tough man like myself and backed by Oparanya as my running mate. I need a mate from the land of the brave. I know Butere as a land of the brave, like Martin Shikuku, who gave the Kanu one-party regime sleepless nights when it was oppressing the nation,” he said.

“Shikuku partnered with Kenneth Matiba to form one of the most potent opposition pairs of the 1990s that neutralised Kanu’s dictatorship and watered the seed of multiparty democracy. That is the type of pairing I want to form with Oparanya to get Ruto out of power.”

He said Ruto’s tax regime is so severe that people in Kenya Kwanza’s Mt Kenya stronghold are complaining, just like those in opposition bastions.

“I know you are eager to see this regime out because you are also feeling the pinch of the rising cost of living,” he said.

Oparanya, however, remained non-committal to the proposal, saying 2027 is still way too far to plan for.

“Wanjigi has proposed to me but the downside of it is that I am also eying the presidency. But I know we will one day agree on the respective path to follow,” he said.

Oparanya, at the same time, said that he would keep the ODM fire burning even if Raila made it as AUC chairman.

“Many think that we, the Raila foot soldiers, will give up on playing the opposition role but that is beside the point. We will keep checking the regime,” he said.

Butere MP Tindi Mwale and immediate former Shinyalu MP Justus Kizito said Kenyans are backing the Raila candidacy for AUC chair so that he could be replaced by Oparanya as ODM leader.

“We want him (Oparanya) to take over ODM and make friends and even political alliances with people like Wanjigi so that we can shape the political future of our nation,” said Mwale.

The leaders also read foul play in the move by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to summon Oparanya over alleged crimes he committed during his tenure. They said the summons were suspect and a scheme by the current political regime to dim his rising political star.

The politicians were speaking during the funeral of a pastor John Mukolwe, 50, who died in a recent road accident in Tanzania that claimed the lives of 25 people. The crash involving four vehicles which occurred in the Ngaramtoni suburb of Arusha, northern Tanzania, on February 24, 2024.

According to the Tanzanian press, of the 25 people killed, 11 were members of Youth With a Mission (YWAM) where Mukolwe was the base leader of the Arusha station. At least 21 people sustained injuries.