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Jimi Wanjigi: Trojan horse or man on a true mission?

POLITICS
By Biketi Kikechi | September 19th 2021

Presidential aspirant  Jimi Wanjigi addresses the press at Mash Park Hotel in Kisii County on September 17, 2021. [Sammy Omingo,Standard]

Is businessman Jimi Wanjigi a man on a mission or is he a mere Trojan horse being used by ODM party leader Raila Odinga to build up the impending declaration of his 2022 candidature for president?

While some political analysts argue he could have a valid dream of clinching the ODM ticket because of the material support he has given Raila in the past, it could also be that he is using the opportunity to boost his profile.

The politician-cum-businessman, however, says he is on a mission and nothing, including attempts to intimidate him like what happened in Migori on Friday when his entourage was stoned, will stop his quest to be president.

“It is unfortunate that the Director of Elections was behind the hirelings who stoned us and party officials in Migori and that begs the question of how credible the coming nomination exercise will be,” said Wanjigi yesterday.

Political pundit Herman Manyora argues that it is possible Raila can support another person and that could be playing in Wanjigi’s mind.

Former allies like ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Wiper Party counterpart Kalonzo Musyoka think it is not possible because of the treatment they received from ODM in the past.

“It is a valid dream because he knows that he stands a better chance than others like governors Hassan Joho and Wycliffe Oparanya, first because of his past support for Raila, his financial position and the Mt Kenya support base,” said Prof Manyora.

But on the flip side, he also sees possibility of the formerly reclusive politician taking on Raila, knowing well that the hostile treatment he will get from ODM hooligans will give him sympathy votes in Mt Kenya.

He argues that ill-treatment, violence and rejection in ODM will work in his favour in Mt Kenya because of the sacrifice he made for Raila including harassment of his family by the government in the past.

But political scientist and former Minister Amukowa Anangwe sees the hidden hand of the ODM leader in Wanjigi’s bold move because; “he cannot make an initiative of that magnitude without a nod from Raila.”

He thinks the game plan is on how best to rope in the Mt Kenya vote and push for Raila’s bid and in so doing also galvanise the vote for himself should the plan fail to materialise.

“He has worked with Raila and financed his campaigns and they have a close understanding of each other, which makes it highly possible that they know what the end game should be like,” says Prof Anangwe.

Another scholar Macharia Munene of USIU, is however of the opinion that Wanjigi believes he is on a mission because he is disillusioned by people he supported in the past.

He says Jimi believes he has a chance to fill an existing vacuum and that is why he has embarked on a high profile campaign against Raila in his Nyanza backyard, a feat few politicians have dared.

“By daring Raila and having the courage to challenge him, he is attracting attention to himself with a belief that his name will be on the ballot in 2022 and he seems determined to make a political mark,” says Prof Munene.

Other pundits though do not just fathom the idea of Raila ceding his ambition of running for president to another person because he has allegedly reneged on agreements to support other candidates who have sacrificed their own ambitions for him.

Lugari MP Ayub Savula says Mudavadi agreed to become the campaign manager for the National Super Alliance (NASA) ticket that fielded Raila and Kalonzo in the 2017 presidential elections with an agreement that he could be supported in 2022.

He argues that Raila not only refused to reciprocate Mudavadi’s goodwill because he had also supported him in 2007 but even trashed other agreements like the sharing of positions in parliamentary committees and the sharing of revenue from the Political Parties Fund.

On the violence visited on Wanjigi in Migori, pundits agreed that Raila’s supporters and the ODM party had nothing to do with it because it is a tag the ODM leader has fought to shed off in the past.

Could Wanjigi have stage managed the stoning to ensure the meeting received the national attention or was it the work of Suna East MP Junet Mohammed as the former told ODM supporters on Radio Nam Lolwe yesterday morning?

“ODM stood to gain nothing from the attack on Wanjigi, if anything they lost face and it only makes Raila look bad instead of him benefiting from that kind of rowdy behavior,” says Prof Manyora.

Prof Anangwe argues that the goons could have been from rival groups because Migori is an area where ODM has received some opposition through Governor Okoth Obado’s People’s Development Party (PDP) in the past.

But Wanjigi is adamant that the ODM party including the chairman John Mbadi know who was behind the chaos in Migori and they should take action by suspending those party officials.

“It is ODM that did it and nobody else because party officials who were with us pointed out some of the goons who had been hired by Junet and I have asked that he and others involved be suspended from the party,” said Wanjigi.

He also revealed that he called Raila on Friday morning and asked him to condemn the incident but he had not heard from him by yesterday morning.

He demanded for structural changes in the party because the situation at the grassroots is disturbing, despite the fact that officials in Nairobi were painting a completely different picture of how well regional offices were operating.

In Homa Bay for example, where they visited on Friday morning and were well received by party officials, Wanjigi said the office has no furniture and they also have rent arrears for many months.

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