As the counting of votes for Kibra by-election went on, ODM candidate Imran Okoth received a surprise phone call from Jubilee candidate McDonald Mariga. In the video aired immediately by mainstream media, he is heard conceding defeat. He also took the opportunity to congratulate Imran and promised to help him to realise his vision for Kibra residents.
This call was unexpected, bearing in mind that Deputy President William Ruto fully supported his candidature and his close allies had earlier in the day assured Kenyans that Mariga was poised to win the seat with a big margin.
As voting continued, a nasty confrontation sparked by claims of voter bribery and rigging pitting DP allies ensued. The proponents of the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga rallied support for Imran while those opposed to it backed Mariga. Apart from this, there were many reasons given why Mariga did not stand a chance of winning.
For Kibra residents, he was an outsider. This is because he was not registered as a voter in the constituency. In August, he registered for the first time at Kariokor in Starehe Constituency. The residents could not entrust a person who had not been tested and had never voted in his life with leadership.
Given this scenario, they would question the intentions of those fronting him. We will not allow Kibra to be used as a battle ground by those obsessed with 2022 succession politics. It is too early to engage in this kind of politics. What we want is a development conscious leader. A leader who understands our problems and has been championing our interests.
One of the key lessons we have learnt from this by-election is you cannot use money to buy leadership. Kenyans will take money and vote for the right candidate. Also, they will question the source of the wads of banknotes being dished out. Besides, the results showed that Kenyans fully support the handshake deal which is meant to build a cohesive and united country. Without this unity of purpose, Uhuru’s Big Four agenda could have run into headwinds.
Notably, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and nominated MP Maina Kamanda led the Mount Kenya troops, who campaigned openly for Imran. This clearly demonstrated that the region supported the handshake between President Kenyatta and Raila. This is contrary to the impression created by members of the deputy president leaning Tangatanga team.
This group is opposed to the handshake and tried to convince Kenyans that Kibra residents were against the unity deal and would bot back Imran. In 2007, we witnessed the worst post-election violence in Kenya’s history. Five years later when he took the reign of power, Uhuru promised to build a united Kenya.