Jimmy Wanjigi is best known to many Kenyans as a high-rolling power broker and businessman worth billions of shillings. Soon, however, he might be a name on the ballot in the 2022 Presidential elections after confirming his interest in the top seat.
Wanjigi stated that he would not play the king-maker role he has been associated with, and was instead plunging into elective politics.
The billionaire is said to be laying the groundwork for a potential Presidential run, exploring various possibilities. He stated that he would give more information on the planned bid ‘at the appropriate juncture’.
“Let me confirm that I will be in active politics and will not be playing my previous role as king-maker,” he was quoted telling NTV.
Wanjigi has been a behind-the-scenes player in the country’s high-stakes Presidential elections – supporting the Jubilee duo of President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto in 2013, before switching sides in 2017 to back and finance the National Super Alliance (NASA) led by Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga in 2017.
His backing of NASA landed him in trouble with Uhuru’s administration in the aftermath of the September 2017 election whose results were nullified by the Supreme Court over irregularities. A large contingent of Police raided his palatial Muthaiga home in October 2017, stating a 72-hour siege after guns were found in a Malindi home believed to belong to Wanjigi.
After the ordeal, Wanjigi famously issued a hard-hitting statement tearing into Uhuru’s administration and accusing them of disregarding the rule of law. Flanked by his wife and ODM leaders, he disclosed that it was in his house that Uhuru and Ruto first reached an agreement to work together ahead of the 2013 polls.
“In fact, their government was formed in this house,” he asserted.
Wanjigi is the son of Maina Wanjigi, who was a Cabinet Minister in former President Daniel Arap Moi’s administration.
His vast wealth has been attributed to his securing of lucrative government contracts, as well as his work as a commission agent helping companies access relevant business opportunities worth millions of dollars.
His entrance into the Presidential race is sure to complicate matters for aspirants including Deputy President William Ruto. Ruto’s main rival, Raila Odinga, has yet to declare his interest in the Presidency although analysts reckon he is planning for one final stab at the top seat.
The Mt. Kenya region’s politics are also set to be impacted by the announcement as Wanjigi hails from it. Leaders from the region have been pushing different individuals as President Kenyatta’s political heir – including National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth.