How UDA won in Rurii ward by-election

UDA candidate Muraya Githaiga at the IEBC tallying centre at Rurii PCEA church in Nyandarua County on May 18, 2021. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Deputy President William Ruto's last-minute phone call address to voters in Rurii ward and intense door-to-door campaign by local leaders allied to the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party, played a great part in ensuring victory for Muraya Githaiga in the just concluded by-election.

Two days to the by-election, Ruto's allies led by Nyandarua Woman Representative Faith Gitau rallied the voters behind the 'hustler's movement' with a promise that the political future of the county was in the party whose symbol is the wheelbarrow.

Gitau and her a team of MPs Jayne Kihara (Naivasha), Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira), Michael Muchira (Ol Joro Orok) and Kiharu's Ndindi Nyoro organized for the deputy president via a phone link that was amplified through public address system at various stop-overs in the ward.

In his address, Ruto appealed to voters to elect Muraya whom he described as a young person with a vision for the people of Rurii.

According to lawyer Martin Wachungo, a political commentator in the Rift Valley and Mt Kenya regions, that act alone showed the voters of Rurii that he cared and that UDA is their new hope.

"If President Uhuru Kenyatta would have bothered to even send a message to the people to ask them to vote for Thinji, things would have been different," observed Wachungo.

The team also went to the ground with a message to the people that they were being isolated in Jubilee Party and that they no option but to seek shelter in UDA.

Muraya Githaiga celebrates with his supporters at Rurii PCEA church in Nyandarua County on May 18, 2021. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

As the Jubilee team used state might and launched a number of development projects in the ward through Governor Francis Kimemia and Water Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki to market their candidate Peter Thinji, the UDA team reminded the locals that the ruling party was intolerant and out of touch.

"Our message to the people was clear from the onset that Jubilee had deviated from its development agenda and was now busy with the handshake and the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) agenda of changing the constitution at the expense of the promises of 2013," she said after the win on Wednesday morning.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declared Muraya the winner after he garnered 4,303 votes against Thinji's 3,143. Susan Wangeci of The New Democrats (TND) came a distant third with 17 votes.

After the announcement at the Rurii PCEA church by the returning officer Wanjiku Muriuki, celebrations rent the air with residents blocking the Nyahururu Nairobi highway.

The victory was a big blow not only to Governor Kimemia who spearheaded the Jubilee campaigns but to Kipipiri Mp  Amos Kimunya who had vowed during one of the campaign meeting at Rurii Catholic Church that he would resign if the UDA candidate wins.

During the meeting, without any provocation, Kimunya who is also the National Assembly Majority Leader declared that; "I am the leader of the majority in the government and I cannot let it be ashamed in Nyandarua. I better resign if the Jubilee party does not win the Rurii seat."

On his part Kimemia had declared that he would not be defeated by the Tanga Tanga team that was headed by Ms Gitau.

Yesterday, Rigathi termed the win as a lesson to President Uhuru Kenyatta to listen to the electorate.

"This is now another lesson after the London ward by-elections. Mr President, please come to the ground and listen to your people" he said.

Nyandarua Woman Representative Faith Gitau addressing the press after Muraya Githaiga (second left) was announced as the winner in the just concluded by-election. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Gitau on her part said that the people of Rurii had indicated they were tired with governor Kimemia's administration.

"This should be a lesson to our governor who was supporting the Jubilee candidate. He should prepare to go home as he has done nothing for our people" she noted.

The race was seen as a supremacy battle between the woman representative and the governor.

Kimemia has for the last two weeks been dishing goodies to the residents accompanied by senior government officials among them Water and Sanitation Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki.

In his acceptance speech, Muraya promised to deliver on his promises as well as uniting the people of Rurii.

"I want to assure you that I will everything possible to deliver on the promises. Rurii is our home and we will all live as members of one family" he said.