The extreme, absurd and funny stunts aspirants engage in to lure voters
By Grace Ng'ang'a
| May 26th 2022 | 4 min read
The road to being called a mheshimiwa is long and expensive.
From abandoning the ambience of five-star hotels and trooping to local vibandas (viosks) and riding on (mkokotenis) carts, this is the season politicians do the strangest of things to appeal to voters.
Some have shrugged off their expensive suits to join the common man in his daily struggle.
With barely less than three months to the August 9 General Election, things are getting pretty interesting with aspirants demonstrating unique styles to lure voters.
In Nairobi for instance, aspirants are applying various tricks.
Nairobi Governor aspirant Polycarp Igathe is the latest to draw mixed reactions after opting for a door to door strategy to interact with voters in most cases deciding to pull up his sleeves ready to work.
To relate with the common man, Igathe has been seen hanging in matatus, barbershops, nyama choma zones with the youth, and different markets on lorries full of fruits and vegetables, leaving the traders with one message, naomba kura yako (I’m asking for your vote).
This has caused a stir on social media, with Kenyans even creating a hashtag. And his antics seem to be gaining favour and traction. T
his has seen him gradually distance himself from the corporate world.
The former Equity Bank chief commercial officer seems to leave nothing to chance. He has been seen selling boiled eggs and chapatis with vendors in the city.
But according to him, these antics are just part of his strategy.
"The way I have designed my campaign, my first phase was to ground myself and root myself in Nairobians' day to day lives and I am impressed by the way they are celebrating their everyday lives,'' he told The Standard.
He added: ''People should get used to seeing me because that is how things will be even should I be governor. I will be serving you your menu, not the menu of the chef.''
To those criticising him, Igathe said there is time for everything and for him, his time is now.
''Every pump attendant of every fueling station knows me, every bookshop seller knows me and every customer of Equity Bank who is a micro trader knows me and they are ready to vote for me,'' he said.
Nairobi Woman Rep aspirant Millicent Omanga was recently pictured frying fish in the Dagoretti area.
On Tuesday, Boda boda operators in Nairobi Central Business District (CBD) were treated with free fuel for their motorcycles by the nominated senator.
Omanga had on Monday pledged to get fuel for the riders that would spot her at a fuel station within the city.
“Watu wangu wa senke kesho saa moja asubuhi nitakua Naivasha Road nikiweka free fuel to the first 500 boda bodas to spot me in one of the petrol stations. Come tuboreshe biz na Omanga,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
Nairobi governor aspirant Johnson Sakaja and his deputy Njoroge Muchiri have not been left behind.
From playing pool and sharing light moments with traders, they have also adopted the door-to-door strategy to as many city voters.
According to the senator, meeting the common man has not started now that he seeking the governor's seat.
Sakaja said he has been consistent and holds the record of initiating people-friendly legislation.
He also cautioned voters not to be wooed by politicians who don’t have their interests at heart.
"I believe even as we politic we must be consistent as leaders. We are stewards of hope and we must be genuine in our pursuit. The aspirations of our people are tribe-less and my mantra is order, dignity, hope and opportunity for all,’’ he said.
Azimio youth leader Ascon Kamili stressed the need for leaders to persuade voters.
"This is in response to the need to appear as people aligned or people's projects considering the unending cry for a listening ear by the common man,’’ he said.
He added: "The economy is a mess owing to the coronavirus pandemic and other factors as such need to appear close to people.’’
Kasarani MP Mercy Gakuya has been building perimeter walls in police stations and public primary and secondary schools in her constituency to convince voters to give her a second term.
Will the voters listen and be swayed by these politicians? The verdict will be out after August 9.
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