Footballer McDonald Mariga has denied claims that his decision to vie for the vacant Kibra parliamentary seat was influenced by Deputy President William Ruto.
Mariga said he had sought the advice of people close to him before reaching the decision to throw his hat into the ring on a Jubilee Party ticket.
“I am not being pushed by anybody. It is something that I have decided to do after consulting my family,” the footballer said.
Mariga spoke yesterday at the party headquarters in Nairobi after being interviewed by the National Elections Board, which is chaired by Andrew Musangi, for consideration to be the party’s flag bearer in the by-election set for November 7.
At least 16 other aspirants are seeking the ruling party’s nod, with the winner set to face-off with Amani National Congress’ Eliud Owalo, and other candidates yet to be picked by their respective parties.
“I submitted all the required documents. That is why I am here for the interview,” Mariga said.
His entry into the Kibra race had triggered behind-the-scenes infighting pitting President Uhuru Kenyatta’s allies against those of the Deputy President.
A disputed letter that had been submitted to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) listing Mariga’s name alongside four other aspirants was disowned by Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju amid claims Ruto’s camp was pushing for his candidature.
Retire from football
The 32-year-old football star said his decision to join politics was fueled by his desire to serve the residents of the sprawling settlement, adding that he was ready to retire from football.
“I know the challenges facing slum dwellers, having been in Karanja (estate) myself. I want to give back to the society.”
Mariga said if not selected to be the party’s flag bearer, he would support the candidate picked.
The aspirants seeking the party ticket include Morris Kinyanjui, Walter Trenk, Ibrahim Said, Doreen Wasike, Oscar Kambona, Bukachi Chapia, Jane Githaiga, Jack Owino, Elli Rajab and Daniel Aden.
Kibra for Mariga
Others are Daniel Orogo, Ramadhan Hussein, Frank Amollo, Timothy Kaimenyi and Geoffrey Mwangi.
The star was accompanied by a handful of supporters who cheered him while waving placards declaring “Kibra for Mariga” and “Mariga ni Wetu”.
It was, however, a quiet arrival for the other aspirants who were not accompanied by their supporters to present their documents to the Musangi-led board.
The Kibra parliamentary seat fell vacant after the death of Ken Okoth on July 26.