He’s leading County deputy Gov, Jubilee candidate in stronghold: Despite joblessness, varsity student, 23, on verge of history

JOSEPH MWIRIGI [PHOTO | EDAILY]

A 23-year-old man, John Paul Mwirigi, has the chance to become the youngest ever Member of Parliament (MP) in the National Assembly should he be declared winner of the Igembe South Parliamentary seat in the August 8 General Election.

Mwirigi, an independent candidate, has an over 3,000 votes lead against his closest competitor, Joseph Miriti Rufus Mwereria, who is running for office on a Jubilee Party ticket.

As at 7:50 pm Wednesday, Mwirigi had 19,366 votes, compared to his political rival, Mwereria, who – on the same time – had 15,977 votes, with 95.14 per cent of the results from polling stations tallied.

Mwirigi campaign rallies were imbued with a sense of humility, as he would hit the trail on foot, engage in door-to-door vote lobbying, reminding voters to identify him – on the ballot – with his characteristic grey sweater that has a black stripe running horizontally just beneath his chest area.

Mwirigi never printed a campaign poster, banking on his humble outlook to edge over perceived political heavyweights such as Jubilee Party’s Joseph Mwereria and Meru Deputy Governor, Raphael Muriungi, who got a paltry 2,202 votes in a race contested by five candidates.

Others who were on the ballot include Martin Mutuma of Maendeleo Chap Chap Party and Joseph Mwenda of Party of National Unity (PNU), who came third and fourth respectively as at 7:50 pm, according to the provisional results on the IEBC website.

Mutuma and Mwenda as at 7:50 pm had 6,477 votes and 5,140 votes respectively.

Mwirigi, a perceived underdog in the race for Igembe South, describes himself as a “hustler wa kawaida” who is ready to serve his constituents.

“I want to thank the people of Igembe South for electing me into Parliament. I will serve you to the best of my ability. I will work closely with my competitors. I want to represent the common mwananchi, whose needs are often overlooked by Parliamentarians once they get into office,” Mwirigi told Citizen Digital on phone.

Despite jobless people – in most instances – being perceived as political pariahs in an arena, where money trumps ideology, Mwirigi, a student at a local university, has risen against all odds to emerge victorious in a county, where endorsement by a popular political party could easily win you an elective seat.

“I am currently jobless. I rely on vibarua (menial jobs) to make ends meet. Nonetheless, I thank God that I am headed for the August House. I won’t let down my constituents, who believe in me,” he says, when being interviewed next to a natural green fence, a compound belonging to another person.

The IEBC is yet to finalise the results and declare Mwirigi the bonafide winner for Igembe South MP.

Kenya’s youngest MP tag was being held by Boniface Kinoti Gatobu, who was elected as Buuri Member of Parliament in the 2013 parliamentary elections. At 26, he was the youngest member of Kenya’s 11th Parliament.

Gatobu, who was running for Meru Governor in the 2017 General Election, stepped down and declared support for Kiraitu Murungi, who IEBC’s preliminary results show that he’s floored incumbent Governor, Peter Munya.

 

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