Wangui Ngirici’s Raila birthday post: A hidden message?

Raila Odinga turns 77 years old tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 7). Kirinyaga Woman Rep Wangui Ngirici wished him a happy birthday today (Thursday, Jan. 6). [File, Standard]

Kirinyaga Woman Representative Wangui Ngirici has on Thursday, January 6 wished ODM leader Raila Odinga a happy birthday, one day to his 77th birthday. 

In under three hours, Ngirici's Facebook post had 9,300 comments, 20,000 reactions and 355 shares.

Wangui Ngirici's Facebook post on Thursday, January 6 a day before Raila's 77th birthday. [Courtesy]

“Happy 77th birthday, jakom,” said Ngirici. She also attached his photo on the Facebook post. 

Jakom is one of the several nicknames that the ODM chief has. In Luo it means “chairman” and is often used informally to refer to people who enjoy prominence in social, political or economic settings.

Other nicknames that Raila Odinga has include Baba and Tinga.

Ngirici abandons UDA

Until recently, Ngirici was in the Deputy President William Ruto’s political camp, campaigning for the DP’s presidential candidature ahead of the August 9 General Election.

However, the entry of Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru in the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Party in late October 2021 scuttled Ngirici’s plans to ride on the political outfit to ascend to governorship in 2022.

As a result, Ngirici announced her exit from UDA on December 30, 2021. She later removed the party’s green and yellow branding from her vehicles and businesses in Kirinyaga County on Monday, January 3.

Ngirici, in a past interview with The Standard, said she had invested heavily in popularising UDA, and that she regrets that her efforts were “betrayed”.

Is Ngirici warming up to the Azimio side?

Her Thursday birthday message to Odinga raised eyebrows online, with a section of Facebook users speculating that she had joined the pro Kenyatta and Odinga’s side.

Facebook user Otukho Jackson commented: “I thought Raila’s birthday is tomorrow (Friday, January 7). But the hurried wish makes it a big political statement, especially after leaving Ruto’s camp. The message is home.”

Gerald Bitok said: “His birthday is tomorrow, but, yes, your message [indirectly endorsing Raila Odinga for president] is home.”

Rogers Kaptum said: “Just move to [team] Azimio [la Umoja] in peace. We wish you [all] the best. You are still testing the waters. Be bold and make a decision.”

Linus Ombede said: “Welcome home, jaber! Baba is ready to receive and help you beat her (Waiguru) early in the morning.”

Our calls to Ngirici went unanswered, though she texted back, saying: “Can I call you later?”

Mount Kenya politics

Ngirici’s Facebook post wishing Raila a happy birthday comes barely 18 hours after she suggested, in a veiled message, that Ruto “shouldn’t dictate” the interests of Mount Kenya constituents.

“The interests of Mount Kenya [people] can't be dictated by outsiders. It's only through partnerships and election of independent-minded leaders that Mount Kenya will benefit. We, as the mountain, might produce a deputy president, but we can only be sure that he or she shall be respected if we have a formidable coalition,” she said on Facebook on Wednesday evening, January 5.

“We might not be producing a president in 2022, but we have the numbers to determine who becomes the president. Respect the mountain.”

DP Ruto's explanantion

In an interview on Citizen Television on December 28, 2021, Deputy President William Ruto suggested Ngirici had hoped to get a direct UDA nomination for the Kirinyaga gubernatorial seat but he wasn’t convinced she was the best candidate for UDA.

“The only way to reward friends, is not to give them a ticket. You can give your friend a ticket, and he’ll fail at the ballot if he is not the popular candidate at that moment. That would mean that that party ticket is meaningless,” he said.