A chat with chicken trader, 29, who sought to challenge Ruto for UDA flag

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022 01:00 | By
UDA presidential aspirant Jephnei Nyakwama PHOTO/COURTESY

He might have lost his bid to fly the UDA presidential banner in the August 9 election, but Jephnei Nyakwama’s dream to lead is still alive.

Nyakwama, 29, (right) sought battle it out with Deputy President William Ruto and Tracy Wanjiru, a third year student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), for the UDA ticket but lost.

He and Wanjiru were both interviewed and disqualified for not meeting the required qualifications. The party picked Ruto to fly its flag, something that Nyakwama describes as a setback to his ambitions.

“I will consult my family and supporters before deciding on the way forward. I might even run as an Independent candidate,” he said.

The Kisii University Bachelors of Education graduate says he decided to run for presidency after watching the problems facing the youth. Also, “athlete Eliud Kipchoge taught us that no human is limited. My dream is that big,” said the father one.

“I believe I have the capacity and academic qualifications to lead this country. I did not go for other posts because I would have had more impact as president,” he noted.

The former student leader said his first priority if elected president is to give the youth tax breaks and introduce policies to promote entrepreneurship. “White collar jobs are not available; let’s venture into business. I would make entrepreneurship a compulsory subject from primary to university levels,” he stated.

Nyakwama ventured into business after writing more than 500 job applications since leaving campus six years ago. “At various times, I worked as a mjengo (labourer), taxi driver at night and accounts assistant,” he recalled.

Nyakwama said he supports UDA’s political and economic ideologies such as Bottom Up, but added that Ruto is tightly marked by his rivals and should consider passing the baton to a teammate. He added that  he had not met the DP before last week’s interview sessions.

A third born in a family of two sons and two daughters, Nyakwama recalls his brief interaction with Ruto a day after the interviews.

“I associate with his grass-to-grace story. Like him, my father used to send me to Kilgoris to buy chicken and then sell them in our home town of Kisii,” he remembers.

Initially, UDA had promised to give him a fee waiver but this was changed. He added that he was consequently appointed leader of UDA’s National Youth Congress.

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