Kenya’s youngest MP, John Paul Mwirigi, says he does not owe allegiance to President Uhuru Kenyatta for buying him his first car when he was elected to parliament in the 2017 elections.
The 28-year-old Igembe South MP shot to prominence when he won the seat as an independent candidate after campaigning for months on a bicycle, beating Jubilee Party’s candidate Rufus Miriti who came second.
Mr Kenyatta bought Mr Mwirigi a Toyota Prado car, which was presented to the MP at the Sagana State Lodge.
Despite their camaraderie when they won the 2013 elections, today, President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto do not see eye to eye, with the President now backing ODM leader Raila Odinga for the presidency in the August 9 polls under the Azimio La Umoja coalition.
Following the falling-out, the Jubilee Party split down the middle with some leaders supporting the President while the other faction stuck with the DP.
No strings attached
Mr Mwirigi, who is DP Ruto’s diehard supporter, said when the President bought him the car, the Head of State did not indicate the gift had “any strings attached” and maintained he will continue supporting the DP.
The MP was reacting to Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya’s accusation that despite the President’s gesture, Mr Mwirigi had rebelled against him and supported Dr Ruto.
During a charged farmers’ meeting at Igembe Tea Factory in Mr Mwirigi’s constituency on Saturday when he drummed up support for Mr Odinga, Mr Munya criticised the MP over what he referred to as ingratitude and disrespect for President Kenyatta despite his generosity.
Mr Mwirigi, who was present at the meeting, had attempted to drum support for DP Ruto but the CS interrupted him.
“You don’t insult an elder who addresses you as his son and bought your first car out of love. You should reciprocate by supporting him and telling the people the good things he has done for them,” Mr Munya told the crowd amid chants of “Azimio”.
“The President wants us to benefit when he retires and does not want us in the opposition. He does not want us to suffer like we did for 24 years,” the CS added, referring to the late President Daniel Moi’s reign from 1978 to 2002.
But while addressing journalists after the meeting, Mr Mwirigi told off Mr Munya and accused the CS of intimidating him using the President’s gift yet “he did not come to my aid when I needed help”.
“Now he is using the President’s gesture to pursue his personal interests,” said Mr Mwirigi.
“The President’s gift was not supposed to influence my decisions as a leader. In any case, the Head of State bought the car after DP Ruto told him the best gift the presidency could give me was make my work easier by way of mobility,” he said, adding that even if the gift had not come his way, he could still have bought a car using the Sh7 million car grant given to MPs.
‘CS playing politics’
The MP said instead of explaining to farmers how they would benefit from the government’s programmes, the CS chose to “play politics” and attack him in his own backyard.
“It is unfortunate for the CS to use the gift to try and intimidate me yet Uhuru himself has never indicated he wants it back. I respect the President, I appreciate his gift and I know how to thank him when he retires,” he added.
Mr Mwirigi reiterated that his support for DP Ruto does not mean disrespect for President Kenyatta and accused Mr Munya of not being respectful to leaders who helped him secure the CS’s position.
“As for political choices, the President said he has a right to choose whoever he wishes (to support, and that is) the reason he decided to support Mr Odinga. On my part, I have chosen Dr William Ruto and nobody will intimidate me,” he said.