Inside Politics

Could Wajackoyah dash Raila, Ruto hopes for first round win?

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022 04:35 | By
Prof. George Wajackoyah. PHOTO/Courtesy

If politics is a game of numbers then the Roots Party candidate George Luchiri Wajackoyah is rubbing the big boys the wrong way. 

A poll released yesterday by Trends and Insights for Africa (Tifa) that focused on Nairobi indicated that Roots Party ties in popularity with the ruling Jubilee and has beaten Wiper Party to become the third most popular party in the Capital City.

The poll indicates that Wajackoyah has seven per cent support in the city, UDA candidate, Deputy President William Ruto, has a 25 per cent popularity with Azimio-One Kenya’s Raila Odinga ruling the roost with 50 per cent. 

This is the first time Wajackoyah is being polled and indications are that his stake will keep rising. Going by the popularity in the city, he will get 175,000 votes if elections were held today. 

If this percentage is replicated nationally, he will get 1.5 million votes in August which could easily deny any of the leading candidates a first-round win. Such is the threat that has gotten politicians and analysts talking.

Before he declared his intention to become president, the lawyer spent most of his time in the corridors of justice fighting to win cases for his clients.

August surprise

Although he would attract media attention once in a while, particularly if he had high profile clients, he remained politically aloof since returning to the country from exile ten years ago.

With two months to elections, however, Wajackoyah has injected excitement in a race that months ago was a straightforward two-horse contest between Raila and Ruto.

The excitement around the 63-year-old’s candidature has triggered discussions on whether he can attract enough votes to force a runoff.

Yesterday, Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot said it was time competitors paid more attention to him, saying he could pull a surprise in August.

“If this Wajackoyah pushes hard enough and scores anywhere upwards of 500,000 votes he can easily force a runoff. He is making some funny promises to the youth, even the middle class. People are excited about promises of legalising weed but he has also promised something that is appealing to the middle class, that they will work for only four days a week,” said Cheruiyot.

Political commentator and economist Mohamed Wehliye twitted that Wajackoyah was eating into Kenya Kwanza numbers.

“Many Hustlers have now found a new home in Wajackoyah The Fifth (WTF). The local derby between UDA and WTF will be interesting one to watch,” wrote Wehliye.

Wajackoyah has focused on oft-controversial topics, like legalising marijuana and snake farming, which appear to resonate well with the youth. He has pledged to legalise bhang for medicinal use and export.

Death penalty

The other fringe candidate is Agano party’s Mwaure Waihiga. 

In most opinion polls, none of the frontrunners have garnered the 50 per cent plus one vote required to be declared the winner, a pointer to the crucial role fringe candidates might play in the General-Election.

Once he got the IEBC’s nod to contest on June 2, Wajackoyah has become a sensation, with youths trooping to his rallies, which are infrequent and unconventional.

Muthoni Njiru, 32, of Kirinyaga said she had been enchanted by Wajackoyah’s candidature and was seriously considering voting for him.

“He is making me feel like corruption will be a thing of the past in his government, no one will dare steal,” Njiru told People Daily.

Wajackoyah, who picked Justina Wamae as his running mate, is proposing the death penalty for corruption convicts. 

“He is giving real solutions on what is supposed to be done to bring Kenyan economy back to life. He should visit Mt Kenya more to sell his candidature,” she added, saying she wouldn’t mind venturing into bhang farming if it is legalised.

With more youths coming out to express their support, mostly online, talk has been rife on the extent to which the euphoria can turn into votes. 

Music Copyright Society of Kenya Chief Executive Ezekiel Mutua has said the Roots Party candidate’s style of politics had brought something different on board.

“Hate him or love him, this man has a serious political ripple effect. Ignore him at your own peril,” observed Mutua, adding that the lawyer could even garner over a million votes and cause a run-off.

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui has also welcomed Wajackoyah’s entrance into the race with the hope it will dim Ruto’s chances in the election.

“The gospel of Wajackoyah is getting a very warm reception from some youths who were previously supporting the Yellow (UDA) brothers. They seem to connect with the message of rebellion and freedom. Because he has not been in government, he has a high moral authority to critique and offer solutions,” said Kinyanjui, who belongs to the Azimio camp.

State project?

Ruto’s campaign has been centred on ‘hustlers’, who are mostly the youth.

Some have even claimed that Wajackoyah could be a government’s decoy to distract youths’ interest in Ruto’s candidature. 

But Soy MP Caleb Kositany, a Ruto ally, told People Daily they did not see any serious competition from the Roots candidate.

“Wajackoyah is not a threat to us. Not at all. We also do not think he is being sponsored by anyone. He is a candidate like anyone else,” the MP said. 

The Roots candidate has distanced himself from claims he is a state-sponsored candidate saying he was only interested in offering real solutions to the challenges facing the country.

“We are not going to point fingers at anyone, we are asking Kenyans to look at us as we are. This is the only chance Kenyans have to change this country. We are only four candidates, me and Justina are the only ones that have the real concerns of Kenyans,” he said during a recent interview. 

In the 2013 election campaigns, another candidate Mwalimu Abduba Dida, triggered similar excitement with popular one-liner solutions to the country’s problems only to end up with just over 50,000 votes.  

Wajackoyah returned to the country in 2012 after a 20-year-exile. He left Kenya in the early 1990s fearing for his life as he was among investigators in the murder of then Foreign Affairs Minister Robert Ouko.

“Shake the tree, tie the rope to hang the corrupt, say no to those promising Sh6k, no to the wheelbarrow,” he said when he recently graced a night reggae-show-cum-rally in Embu.

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