State House bid has changed life for Wajackoyah, aka ‘The Fifth’
Only a few months ago, one could simply walk in and walk out of George Wajackoyah’s Luchiri & Company Advocates offices without going through the rigours of seeking security clearance.
Not any more. The bearded lawyer and Roots Party presidential candidate is now “government property”, and he has a security detail to show for it. Indeed, it is in the government’s interest that the professor stays safe.
Were anything to happen to him, God forbid, the date of the August 9 presidential election would have to be pushed back. That is the law that has ensured he has at least two armed and uniformed police officers within earshot at any one given time. And he seems to be enjoying every bit of his newly found status as a presidential candidate, openly bragging that he was no longer a private citizen.
“I am no longer the ordinary person that you have always known,” he told People Daily brashly yesterday. “I am now a government property, with restrictions on where I have to stay or what I have to do.”
A source in the police service said the eccentric teetotaller from the sleepy village of Indangalasia in Matungu constituency has been assigned no less than 10 elite police officers to provide him with round-the-clock security for the remainder of the campaign period, and maybe, beyond.
The bodyguards have been split into three teams; one taking charge of his residence, the second stationed at his law firm’s offices and the third always with him wherever he goes.
As we settle for the interview, two armed Administration Police officers take positions at the main door to his office. As soon as he settles down, he switches off his phone. “These days it rings all through,” he says, probably unaware that he is revealing how his life has changed ever since he said he was interested in occupying the house on the hill. And he revels in the attention he is getting, coming up with ever more radical campaign pledges.
“We need a strong president who will rule by decree on some issues,” says the man who has said he will suspend the Constitution for six months from the moment he swears to uphold and protect it.
“You can call me a dictator. If that is the case, fine, you can elect me knowing what kind of president you are going to have.” Clearly, what voters see before they take him to State House is what they will get thereafter… after he has fulfilled his first pledge, which is to take a long toke of weed.
One other thing he has promised is the death sentence for those found guilty of corruption. Of course, it is in the public domain that he will legalise the weed, prostitution – just like in The Netherlands – and yes, trade in ivory.
“Everything about me has not changed, what has changed is the environment, which is temporary,” says the former spy who was among those who investigated the death of the then Foreign Minister Robert Ouko; who served in the government of President Daniel Arap Moi until his body was found mutilated and burned on the foothills of Got Alila one cold misty morning in February 1990.
Wajackoyah contends that in Kenyan politics, one has to be extra careful because it is characterised by intimidation, witch-hunting, mediocrity and, he dared say, murder. And the latter is what makes it necessary for him to have security 24/7. But this is a man who has been through quite a bit.
“I was once a street kid… I was once a prisoner. I was once a gravedigger. I was once homeless,” he says nonchalantly. He is not sure, though, if he wants to change his “mode of operation” even if he has set his bespectacled eyes firmly on State House.
“If you have dozens of security guards yet nobody wants to eliminate you, of what use are they?” he asks rhetorically. “I care less about what is going to happen to me because I am not afraid to die. I am not going to have 250 security guards, what have I done?” he asks. Were it up to him, he would rather his “guys” were around him although he feels obligated to go about his business of seeking to be Kenya’s chief executive as stipulated in the law.
“But I am not going to have sleepless nights because life has changed.” According to Article 138 of the Constitution, a presidential election shall be cancelled and a new election held in the event that a candidate or running mate dies on or before the scheduled election date.
Last week, Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai said every presidential candidate will be provided with at least ten armed police officers at the State’s expense. Each team assigned to a presidential candidate is headed by an inspector of police and will be at the beck and call of the candidates until the results of the presidential election are announced.
When Deputy President William Ruto named Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua as his running mate, the government moved fast to deploy security to the latter. The same was extended to Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua after she was named Raila Odinga’s running mate last month.
For Karua, who has been used to interacting with the masses freely, things changed so fast that she was left bewildered. “Although I was used to government security during my tenure as a minister, this one has been heightened a bit. It is tight,” Karua told People Daily by phone.
That is what it means to play in the league of presidential candidates, and it is a game Wajackoyah is becoming adept at. Before he garnered over 48,000 signatures and copies of IDs to be cleared by IEBC, Wajackoyah says he was routinely dismissed by friends and associates alike. Many considered his candidature as a joke, but today, “the Fifth” has become a sensation although he only had 4,530 followers on Twitter by last evening.
Now, he can’t take a walk or saunter into a mall without being mobbed by people seeking to take selfies with him. And his phone never stops ringing. “I am even getting calls from elected leaders in Parliament. Interestingly, some are even lending me money,” he says. Not too long ago, he visited a hospital and a former MP was shouting his name from afar.
“Of course, that would not have happened before,” he says. Not all changes have been as dramatic.
Another presidential candidate, David Mwaure Waihiga, who is vying on the Agano Party ticket, says the changes did not come immediately.
The lawyer even attended court matters on behalf of his clients on Monday and Tuesday and there was not even a whimper in the hallowed corridors of justice. Everything changed on Wednesday, however, when he found several police officers, some in full combat gear waiting –not for him but on him -outside his offices and yet another set at his home.
All they said was that they had been deployed to guard him. Yet Waihiga, a humble man by many counts, joined the presidential race, not to look for the trappings of power but because he wanted to serve the people of Kenya “with humility”.
“That (assigning police to candidates) may be a standard procedure but I remain the same humble person who wants to demystify the presidency,” he told People Daily yesterday.
Like Wajackoyah, Waihiga looks like the stone that the masons rejected. Before IEBC cleared him, many people dismissed him as a joker in the race, but today, he is getting attention and respect.
Some people have already started calling him “Your Excellency”. Maybe it is time they also started calling Wajackoyah “Your Highness”.