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ELECTION 2022

Wangui Ngirici: Why I messaged Raila on his birthday but snubbed Ruto

POLITICS
By Ndungu Gachane | Jan 8th 2022 | 4 min read

Wangui Ngirici (C) says if presidential election was to be held today, DP William Ruto (R) won’t defeat Raila Odinga (L) by a big margin in Mount Kenya. [File, Standard]

Kirinyaga Woman Representative Wangui Ngirici is completely done with UDA, and there’s no turning back for her, she says in this exclusive interview with The Standard.

On January 6, the lawmaker raised eyebrows when she wished ODM leader Raila Odinga a happy birthday, one day to the former prime minister’s 77th birthday.

“Happy 77th birthday, jakom,” she said in a Facebook post that received more than 38,000 reactions, 16,000 comments and 540 shares.

Until recently, Ngirici was Deputy President William Ruto’s foot soldier in Kirinyaga County, crusading for his presidential bid and the bottom up economic ideology. Not anymore.

Asked why she wished Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader a happy birthday, but snubbed Ruto when he turned 55 years old on December 21, 2021, she said: “It’s simple, I did not have internet on December 21.”

Of course, the response appears dishonest. Ngirici is a millionaire if not a billionaire, and internet connectivity would be the last thing she’d be unable to afford.

However, our answer to the question – why she failed to publicly send Ruto a birthday message – became clearer as our interview progressed.

“I was betrayed by Ruto and UDA,” she said, referring to her acrimonious exit from the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) after her nemesis in the Kirinyaga gubernatorial seat, Anne Waiguru, joined the Ruto-led political party.

Wangui Ngirici says the said-betrayal “angered” her supporters, who are now pushing her to join Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja side.

“How I was mistreated in UDA made them (supporters) to sympathise with me.

“Before alienating me in UDA, the Party commissioned skewed opinion polls to suggest that Waiguru was more popular in Kirinyaga than I was. Kirinyaga people are aware of this, and are now urging me to join Raila Odinga’s political camp, saying I did not deserve the betrayal,” she said.

But will she heed her supporters’ advice? “Let them continue backing me up on my gubernatorial bid. Later, I will declare my stand on that.”

Going back to where we started: why didn’t she wish Ruto a happy birthday on December 21 last year? Her answer lies in the responses above, and not the lack of internet connectivity claim.

Ngirici says Raila Odinga has made significant inroads in Mount Kenya, and that the margin between him and DP Ruto, whom she places ahead, isn’t as wide as it previously was.

“Even if Ruto gets a higher number of votes in Mount Kenya for his presidential bid, he won’t beat Raila by a big margin. His (Ruto's) approval rating in Mount Kenya has reduced because of how he insults the region’s political parties and his refusal to rein in on cartels who are running the show in UDA,” she said.

According to the woman representative, the cartels in UDA engineered her ejection.

“They (cartels) are dictating who runs for which elective seat, and are dictating who in the UDA camp gives addresses in the media. If you’ve been keen, you’d notice that not all politicians allied to UDA give TV, radio or newspaper interviews,” she said.

According to the lawmaker, DP Ruto is “happy” with how things are run in UDA, and rarely reprimands the cartel members.

“Sometime back, in our UDA WhatsApp group, a section of the MPs body-shamed and insulted me, but the deputy president remained silent, though he’d read the messages,” she said, warning that UDA’s downfall was imminent if Ruto doesn’t call his troops to order.

“I can’t run for an elective seat on a UDA ticket, even if the ticket was given to me on a silver platter.”

Ngirici claims soon more leaders from Mount Kenya and North Eastern regions will join her in leaving UDA.

“There are leaders [from North Eastern and Mount Kenya] who have informed me that they’re just waiting for the appropriate time to ditch the Party.”

The legislator said in the interview that she supports the Political Parties (Amendment) Bill 2021, as “it’s good for small parties, and the Mount Kenya region at large”.

“Those (MPs) who voted against the Bill are hypocrites and do not wish well for our region. Coalitions will ensure our interests are catered for in the next government,” said Ngirici.

Asked who she supports among the presidential aspirants, Ngirici said: “I’d say it’s too early to cast my support behind a particular presidential candidate. However, with time, I will announce who is my preferred choice.”

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