A car gift from the President five years ago has reportedly been turned into a tool of “blackmail” and “coercion” against the nation’s youngest legislator as political temperatures rise in Mt Kenya ahead of the August 9 elections.
Igembe South MP John Paul Mwirigi has been spending sleepless nights over a Toyota Prado that was gifted to him by the Head of State in 2017, his biggest mistake being his loyalty to Deputy President William Ruto.
He’s now contemplating returning the car to State House, if that will guarantee him “peace of mind” and “independence”.
President Uhuru Kenyatta presented the fuel guzzler to Mr Mwirigi at Sagana State Lodge.
The legislator on Sunday said the car had caused him anguish since he declared support for Dr Ruto with several leaders claiming his move was tantamount to disrespecting the Head of State.
He can no longer stand the “blackmail” he’s being subjected to by the President’s allies.
Mr Mwirigi, 28, shocked the nation when he campaigned on a bicycle and won the Igembe South seat as an independent candidate against Jubilee’s strong wave.
He trounced Mr Rufus Miriti, a heavyweight who ran on the ruling party’s ticket and enjoyed the backing of Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi, Senator Mithika Linturi and then-Woman Rep Florence Kajuju.
Mr Kenyatta supports Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition flagbearer Raila Odinga in the 2022 General Election.
Dr Ruto leads the Kenya Kwanza Alliance that brings together his United Democratic Alliance, the Amani National Congress led by Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford-Kenya and National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi’s Democratic Party.
The DP has in the recent past castigated the Jubilee administration for allegedly using State machinery to intimidate his allies. Mr Mwirigi singled out Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, who had accused him of disrespecting the President.
“I thank the President for gifting me a car in 2017. I am much humbled now as I was then. I wish to appreciate the President for gifting me wholeheartedly without expecting anything in return,” Mr Mwirigi posted on his Facebook wall.
“Recently, a number of leaders have been castigating me, claiming that by supporting Dr Ruto, I am disrespecting the President. I will be categorical on this issue. I have never insulted or disrespected the President in anyway and I am not planning to do so at any time. My allegiance to the DP won’t change at all,” he added.
Last Saturday, Mr Mwirigi was involved in an altercation with Mr Munya at Igembe Tea Factory in his constituency when the CS held a farmers’ meeting. In his address, Mr Mwirigi had attempted to drum up support for Dr 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”.
In his post, Mr Mwirigi wondered whether the CS was speaking for the President.
“If at all Mr Munya is speaking for the President, (since he has done this repeatedly on different occasions), I may, for the sake of my peace of mind and independence consider returning the gift…"
“I will not bear the blackmail by the CS anymore. If the attacks are an orchestrated plan to coerce me to change my decision, it will be an exercise in futility.”
Contacted, Mr Mwirigi said he stood by his Facebook post, but declined to divulge his next move.
“I meant what I wrote,” he told Nation.Africa.