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Wanjigi: We first swore-in Raila as people's president at his residence

By Jacob Ngetich | August 9th 2021

ODM leader Raila Odinga with businessman Jimi Wanjigi.[Courtesy]

ODM leader Raila Odinga took oath as the 'People's President' in his residence in Karen, Nairobi two weeks before the mock swearing-in at Uhuru Park, fours years ago.

Although this has remained a close guarded secret, it has emerged that at some point Raila was hesitant to publicly take the oath but yielded to pressure from his political lieutenants. 

In an exclusive interview with The Standard, business mogul turned politician Jimi Wanjigi opened the lid on his role in President Uhuru Kenyatta's election in 2013 and Raila's 2017 bid for the presidency and the desire to see the late Vice President George Saitoti lead the country.

The businessman who is the son of former Assistant Minister Maina Wanjigi recounted the events of 2017 presidential election and the aftermath of the nullification of Kenyatta's election victory.

In the 2017 presidential election, Wanjigi campaigned against a government he helped craft and rallied behind Raila.

He disclosed that the three former NASA principals Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Kalonzo Musyoka (wiper) and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula (Ford Kenya) skipped the planned private swearing-in of Raila as the People's President at his residence.

"When we laid bare the results of the servers at Intercontinental Hotel we had agreed that Raila would host us for lunch where we would swear him in. We went ahead as planned but the three NASA principals did not join us. We still went ahead but to swear him in and recorded the event on video," he said.

The event which was recorded was led by former Raila aide Miguna Miguna and attended by most ODM MPs and ardent supporters.

The leaders opted to swear in the ODM chief after he boycotted the repeat presidential election on October 26, 2017, thus handing Uhuru victory.

"We decided that we are going to swear in Raila, and to do so we needed to create momentum before the event. That's why we organised demonstrations. We wanted to capture the political psyche before the momentous day," he said.

He admitted that he was at the forefront in the swearing in and at one point when even Raila seemed to be shaken by the thought of the same, but he "kept him cool".

"At one point on the material day, Raila looked uncertain about the oath. We were at Dusit 2 and as we watched the crowd swell at Uhuru Park. The NASA co principals had gone missing and Raila said he wanted go look for them. But the look on his face suggested he was trying buy time," he said.

He added: "I told him, we are not going anywhere, let the principals keep off but we must drive down to Uhuru Park."

Luckily for the ODM leader, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, Siaya Senator James Orengo, Ruaraka MP T J Kajwang and Raila's former aide Miguna Miguna, longside his other allies, were 'fired up' and were ready for the event.

Wanjigi revealed that Kalonzo had begged them not to go ahead with the swearing in of Raila as the People's President.

"He told us do anything but don't take the oath. If there is any bloodshed after that we will find ourselves at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Mudavadi and Wetang'ula were ambivalent in the entire episode that day," he said.

The businessman said his decision to run for presidency is motivated by the desire for change.

Wanjigi said: "I would love to be the change that Kenyans pray to see. An acrimonious fallout with the Uhuru drove me straight to the arms of Raila who after unsuccessfully challenging the President's election in 2013, decided to mount a fourth stab at the presidency."

He noted that most of his opponents in the race to State House have been in politics for over 30 years and have nothing new to offer Kenyans.

"Ruto has been in politics for 30 years now since he joined Youth for Kanu (YK) 92, Raila 40, Kalonzo 39, Mudavadi 32years, what is new that this guys want to offer? I am the fresh breath in politics," Wanjigi said.

"I am a businessman and looks at empowering people," he added.

During the 2017 General Election, Raila spiritedly campaigned with the promise of taking his supporters to the political Caanan, reminiscent of the Israelites sojourn to the Canaan the place of milk and honey, Wanjigi, nicknamed James Bond was the pianist of the pilgrim's choir.

At one time Wanjigi felt the full force of the state machinery after attempts to arrest him twice, while he was driving to his office and another at his home.

He is banking on the rich Mt Kenya vote bloc and economic agenda to pull a surprise in the 2022 race.

The businessman said he has supported most presidential aspirants in the past and it is now time for him to make a stab at the presidency.

The billionaire who owns Kwacha Group of Companies, argues that he will bring in fresh blood into the Kenyan political psyche.

"What we have now is the politics of mediocrity, we cannot continue like this, in the three generations of our Kenyan politics, we must work for total overhaul. We should not recycle same old faces and expect changes," said Wanjigi.

Wanjigi vowed to mount a vigorous campaign that will rattle perceived front runners.

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