A 23 year old bachelor of education student is set to make history as the youngest ever MP to be elected in parliament.
John Paul Mwirigi who vied as an independent candidate won Igembe South parliamentary seat by 19 980 votes (38,96%) against Jubilee’s Rufus Miriti’s 16 615 votes (32,40%).
He was born in January 7 1994 he attended Riaki primary school and later went to Kirindine Day Secondary school and is currently pursuing a Bachelors of education Degree at Mount Kenya University specializing in History and Kiswahili,he is in third year.
Before embarking on campaigns he worked as a casual labourer in ‘mjengo’ and sometimes picked tea earning Sh.350 a day.
Immediate former MP Mithika Linturi opted to run for Meru senate seat successfully.
Linturi had endorsed Jubilee’s Miriti for the seat. When President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto toured Maua in the last dush a week to election. Ruto endorsed Jubilee Miriti he urged residents to vote for him.
Mwirigi was not even in anyone’s lips not even journalist could give him coverage.To many he was an underdog who was chewing more than he can bite.
He managed to contain the Jubilee wave to clinch the seat in an area where Miraa is mainly grown.
Before venturing into politics to seek the seat many saw Mwirigi’s venture as a ‘piped dream’ that would not turn out into a reality.
Mwirigi an orphan and a sixth born in a family of eight did not even own land and did not even afford a decent lifestyle live alone have money for campaigns.
Mwirigi who is soft spoken told people to remember him when they get to the ballot.
He used to campaign on foot and sometimes used Boda Boda, this is after Boda Boda riders opted to assist him reach out to people after they saw something unique in his campaign pledges.
He developed interest in politics after he dreamt himself tabling a motion as MP when he was in Form Three at Kirindine Day secondary.
« I told my fellow students about this dream and began seeking votes our area chief reported me to the principal and said i was smoking cannabis when i began campaigning in my village, » Mwirigi said.
He said the principal called him to her office and asked him about it.
« I told him that i wanted to be an MP and upon realizing how serious i was she advised me not to relent in my quest as i would be a role model if i became legislator since the school was yet to produce any legislator.I saw the deplorable state our village was in despite having leaders, there were poor roads and lack of water this pushed me and i said i will one day vie so that i can change things, » Mwirigi said.
He said years later after that he came to learn that his principal’s husband was also running for the seat on a Jubilee ticket but through the campaign they did not verbally abuse each other.
« People who witnessed us speak(Mwirigi and Principal Husband) at the same event would like to hear how master and student out do each in pledges and campaign strategies, » he said.
Mwirigi was wearing a torn out shirt on the day of election when results started trickling in,he was leading by a margin his closest competitor could not close inn.
Before the election Mwirigi went on a door to door camapign and reminded voters not to forget him.
He had not printed even a single poster nor given even a penny in hand outs so he did not even need much money to oil his campaign.
The MP elect said he was sponsored with little money to buy food as he traversed the constituency in his low profile campaigns where he used Boda Bodas as his source of transport.
He could not decline attending fundraisers,he would attend and then boldly told organizers he had no cash to give.
« When you reach in the ballot remember my grey sweater am the one with the grey sweater so tick there, » he told voters.
His grey sweater did magic for him and he was on August 9 he was leading and from the look of things he was headed for victory.
« My rivals were taunting me because of my sweater which i was bought by residents and said why would residents elect someone who cannot even afford a suit but this worked to my advantage. I told residents yes i could not afford a suit because i dint have a job unlike the others and that is the reason they needed to vote for me and not to vote for my rivals as they had jobs and were well off, »Mwirigi said
His supporters thronged near Maua girls high school, the constituency tallying center on August 9, after news was leading with 19,366 while his closest competitor had 15,977 spread like wild fire.
He was whisked away in an old Land Rover to Maua town where early celebrations began pomp and color was witnesses in the small town bringing down business to a stand still.
Others in the race were Maendeleo Chap Chap’s Mutuma Kubai who came in third with 7 005 votes (13,66%), PNU’s Mwenda Mzalendo who came in fourth with 5 362 votes (10,46%) while immediate former Meru deputy governor Raphael Muriungi was trailed with 2 320 votes (4,52%).
Mwirigi is still single but plans to have a girlfriend in the five years he will be in parliament.
In his acceptance speech Mwirigi said he will prioritize agri business,nurture upcoming talents and promote entrepreneurship as well as improve infrastructure
He said as a young person he understands the problems of the youth and will help them out.
» I saw things were not working as they are supposed to be but i wanted to vie so that i mentor the youth, i decided to stand in the gap of young people the problems the young people go through i have undergone the same and i decided to mentor them through leadership as i willl solve their problems, » Mwirigi said.
He said he will table motion revolving around tea farming as Igembe South mainly relies on it for livelihoods.
Meru has a history of voting for young MPs,Immediate Buuri MP Kinoti Gatobu who unsuccessfully vied for Meru governor was 26 when he won,he was the youngest member of Kenya’s 11th Parliament.
Mwirigi will be the youngest MP in the 12th parliament and this hence Meru will retain the crown of electing young MPs.