When businessman Jimi Wanjigi announced that he would be running for President, it caught many by surprise.
For a man who has mostly been behind the scenes since playing a key role in the election of Mwai Kibaki in 2002, many were surprised by his announcement.
The Star can now reveal the behind-the-scenes runnings aimed at making Wanjigi – the man who pushed Raila Odinga to take oath as the people’s president in 2017 – a formidable candidate for 2022.
On Friday, Wanjigi will meet ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna at Chungwa House to discuss his candidature and the nomination process.
Insiders in his yet to be unveiled secretariat say Wanjigi is putting together a machine that will see him go for the ODM ticket for the presidency.
Plans are in place to unveil the campaign headquarters based in Westlands where he has been meeting various grassroots leaders in the next two months.
In the plan, Wanjigi aims to take over ODM grassroots offices in Central Kenya and Eastern with the objective of controlling delegates who will eventually decide the Orange party candidate.
With no dominant party in Mt Kenya, Wanjigi believes that making ODM active in the region gives him an upper hand in the race to State House.
Insiders in his camp have revealed to the Star that Wanjigi is focused on ensuring that ODM uses the delegates formula to elect its flag bearer in 2022.
The businessman is of the view that ODM is his best bet to propelling him into a key political player in the Mt Kenya region.
“Mt Kenya has the largest basket of voters. Up to 35 per cent depending on how people register as voters. The fact is that Mt Kenya has not sat out of any election and this will definitely not be the first one,” a source in Wanjigi camp told the Star.
On Sunday, Wanjigi said he was ready to compete with party leader Raila Odinga for the ODM presidential ticket for the 2022 General Election.
“Odinga is my good friend and I want to tell him now that I will beat him at the nominations. It is time for a new crop of leaders,” Wanjigi said at the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, Ndarugu, in Nakuru Town West.
Others who have declared interest in the ODM ticket are Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and his Kakamega counterpart Wycliffe Oparanya.
According to Article 6.2.2 of the ODM constitution, all national officials other than the secretary for parliamentary affairs, secretary for women affairs, secretary for youth affairs, and the executive director shall be elected by the National Delegates Conference.
Article 7.2 of the constitution lays out who may attend the delegates conference and caps the number at 3,000.
The ODM delegates conference was last used competitively in 2007 where Raila carried the day.
At the NDC on September 1, 2007, Raila defeated William Ruto, Musalia Mudavadi, Najib Balala and Joseph Nyagah to become the flag bearer.
For the 2013 and 2017 elections, Raila was unopposed and was just endorsed by the NDC.
If ODM is to go into an NDC contest to pick the flag bearer, Raila is seen to have an upper hand as most of the elected leaders are more loyal to him.
All members of the ODM Party Parliamentary Group, governors and the deputy governors are part of the National Delegates Conference.
Wanjigi and his team have drawn up a plan that seeks to take up control of ODM in Central Kenya and its diaspora in the Rift Valley, the Eastern region and part of Nairobi as a starting point.
The focus for Wanjigi, according to insiders, is members outside those who are already holding elective positions.
Since the ODM constitution has a formula for topping up delegates from various branches – which are based on constituencies – the Wanjigi team believes recruitment in these areas ups his stakes.
“Under Article 7.2.2, subsections 4,5,6 and 11 bring in the national character through representation from constituencies and regions. The formula will be driven by recruitment numbers. The more Orange you can get the better,” a lawyer working in the Wanjigi team explained.
A week ago, Wanjigi announced that he would be opening an ODM office in Murang’a that would be used for his campaigns in the county.
Wanjigi’s county campaigns coordinator Ngugi Mburu said the current ODM office located at Kenol has been dormant.
This came a week after he opened a similar office in Kajiado where he reiterated that he will contest for the presidential candidature of the ODM party against Raila.
The plan is to open or revive ODM offices across the counties in Mt Kenya.
While in Kajiado, Wanjigi said that nothing would hinder him from contesting in the next general election.
“I am confident the party primaries will be free and fair, and I am sure I will win against Raila, it is the right time we change the party leadership,” Wanjigi said.
According to Wanjigi, the country required economic liberation and argues that he is best placed to play that role.
“The country has faced a myriad of challenges among them impunity and corruption which have stagnated economic growth,” he added.
Wanjigi has been instrumental in the formation of governments since 2002 when NARC took over from Kanu which had been in power for 24 years.
In 2013, Wanjigi was pivotal in the Jubilee campaigns that saw President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto elected.
The businessman, whose operations have sometimes been controversial, however, fell out with them and joined Raila’s camp for the 2017 elections.
Wanjigi almost single-handedly pushed the Nasa chief to withdraw from the presidential rerun on October 26, 2017 after rallying the support of Raila’s allies including James Orengo.
Immediately after the polls, which Raila boycotted, Wanjigi spearheaded an aggressive push for Raila to be sworn in as the people’s president, relying on results of the August 8 election annulled by the Supreme Court.
By The Star