Jimi Wanjigi’s race for Kenya’s presidency hit a deád end after he was disqualified for lack of requisite academic qualifications. His application to join the list of candidates in the 9th August presidential elections was rejected today by the Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) because he does not have a degree, on a day that many expected to witness his political might.
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In a development that throws the flamboyant businessman into political oblivion – at least as far as this year’s election is concerned – IEBC effectively applied sudden brakes to what has been building up as an alternative force in the state house. Besides ODM’s Raila Odinga and UDA’s William Ruto, only Wanjigi of Safina Party has been causing a blip on the political radar, thanks to his deep pockets.
The electoral agency said Mr Wanjigi did not have the degree certificate as required by law, and did not meet the threshold for signatures to be cleared to vie. IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati asked Mr Wanjigi to bring the physical degree certificate.
Wanjigi presented academic transcripts with documents indicating he would be graduating in December. Also, his signature numbers fell short by one county, according to Mr Chebukati, who is the returning officer for the presidential elections.
Mr Wanjigi, accompanied by his running mate Willis Otieno, cried foul. “We were told that all the documentation were alright during our pre-nomination meeting. Why cherry-pick now? There are certain people who don’t want some individuals on the ballot,” he said.
Mr Wanjigi claimed to have submitted signatures from 25 counties, one more than the needed 24, but that could not be independently verified.
Wanjigi, a Nairobi billionaire, tossed himself into the political ring after years of bankrolling his preferred candidate behind the scenes. He started off in ODM, his party in the 2017 elections, before branching out after the party endorsed Raila without competitive elections.
He tried flirting with Wiper and UDA but did crystallize into any political deal. He may have the money but Wanjigi has yet to acquire the most important political capital: a massive following, especially of the tribal kind.
If he is locked out, his fate will be sealed. He will have to wait to graduate in December in preparation for the 2027 election. That will need a degree of patience for someone who had hoped to brand himself for 2027 using this election.
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