Drama as Jimi Wanjigi confronts Wafula Chebukati for locking him out of presidential race

Jimi Wanjigi (L) with his running mate Willis Evans Otieno at the Bomas of Kenya on June 6, 2022 during IEBC clearance to run for presidency. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Jimi Wanjigi of Safina Party is a livid man.

He had hoped to give the presidential top guns a run for their money in the August 9 General Election, but that dream now remains a mirage.

His biggest undoing is lack of a university degree.

His incessant pleas to be heard by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairperson Wafula Chebukati fell on deaf ears.

“You have to bring me a physical copy of the degree certificate for me to clear you [as a presidential candidate],” Chebukati told Wanjigi at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi on Monday, June 6.

Wanjigi had armed himself with a letter from the Commission for University Education (CUE), which stated that both the university – Daystar –  and course that he was pursuing –  Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Security Studies – are accredited by the agency.

As per a letter shared by Wanjigi to the IEBC boss, the presidential hopeful is due for graduation in December 2022.

Also in his possession, were academic transcripts, which Wanjigi said “serve the same purpose as a degree certificate”.

Chebukati said Wanjigi’s application was marred by many unmet requirements.

Besides the degree challenge, Chebukati said the aspirant did not raise sufficient number of Kenyans’ signatures to support his bid, and that there were inconsistencies in the copies of ID cards that he’d submitted.

It is a requirement that any person seeking the presidency must collect at least 48,000 signatures from registered voters in at least 24 Kenyan counties. The documents must be accompanied by photocopied ID cards of the supporters.

After Chebukati said he had disqualified Wanjigi for not meeting the requirements, the aspirant confronted the IEBC boss.

“This disqualification is clearly being decided elsewhere, [and not the IEBC offices]. You can’t apply different rules to different people,” he said.

“We had earlier been told that all the documents that we submitted were in order. We are privy to details of a certain [presidential] candidate whose application was accepted based on documents whose nature are similar to the ones I have presented. That candidate was cleared, yet my application has been rejected,” said Wanjigi.

The aspirant claims that unnamed top guns in the political race have compromised the IEBC so that “the ballot paper is not flooded by many candidates”.

“There are some people who don’t want to see others on the ballot paper. Let me tell you [IEBC], you won’t get away with it. This is a country founded on law; a country that adheres to the Constitution,” Wanjigi said as Chebukati looked on.

The IEBC chief thereafter asked Wanjigi to “summarise” his remarks, a statement that appeared to provoke the presidential aspirant.

“Don’t cut me off, don’t cut me off!”

It’s at this point that Wanjigi’s microphone went mute in unclear circumstances. Chebukati, thereafter, walked out of the Bomas venue.

Wanjigi also exited the venue, and addressed pockets of his supporters outside Bomas.

He vowed to file a petition at the High Court to compel IEBC to include him on the ballot paper as a presidential candidate.

“I want to assure Kenyans that I will be on the ballot [paper] on August 9, 2022,” he said.

Wanjigi’s journey to the ballot has met various challenges.

He started off as a challenger of Raila Odinga in the quest to get ODM’s endorsement as a presidential candidate. That attempt failed, forcing Wanjigi to decamp to Safina Party, where he got his wish – endorsement as a presidential candidate – on March 21, 2022.

Wanjigi, thereafter, pledged to work closely with Deputy President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Coalition.

A lack of degree certificate has now thrown his quest to become Kenya’s fifth president into a spin.

Wanjigi had presented himself for clearance alongside his running mate Willis Evans Otieno, an advocate of the High Court of Kenya.