From billionaire to broke presidential candidate: The rise and fall of Cyrus Jirongo
3 weeks ago, 05:00
Former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo was one of the eight candidates cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to contest last year’s presidential election.
But the United Democratic Party (UDP) flagbearer appears to have acted out of tune when he failed to organise or show up in any campaign rallies, a move that puzzled his close allies and party supporters.
The former YK ’92 lobby group boss has in the past been associated with high profile campaigns in his western region political backyard and other parts of the country.
His rallies were usually well attended. Mr Jirongo was a crowd puller due to his generosity to those in attendance.
He was known for giving out large sums of money to party supporters after addressing meetings.
Last year, Mr Jirongo kept away from the limelight as other candidates traversed the country in search of votes.
He garnered a modest 11,000 votes.
Mr Jirongo’ political career stretches back to 1997 when he clinched the Lugari parliamentary seat on a Kanu ticket.
In the 2002 polls, Mr Jirongo was upset by Dr Enock Kibunguchy of Narc but made a comeback in the 2007 general election on a Kenya African Democratic Development Union (Kaddu) ticket.
The controversial politician first declared interest to contest the presidency in 2013 but withdrew from the race and unsuccessfully ran for the Kakamega Senate seat.
Mr Jirongo’s allies said his plans to launch a vigorous campaign for the top seat last year were dealt a serious blow at the last minute after a major donor backed out.
Mr Jirongo’s party fielded candidates for parliamentary and ward representative seats in Kakamega and Vihiga counties.
But his plans appear to have backfired badly when he could not raise funds for their campaigns — effectively leaving them on their own to fight for their political survival.
Despite the financial setback, UDP clinched the Koyonzo ward seat in Kakamega County Assembly and the Bunyore West ward seat in Vihiga County.
In Lugari constituency, Mr Charles Khakama Welangai unsuccessfully contested the seat on the same ticket.
Mr Welangai said if plans by Mr Jirongo had gone according to script, the political scenario in western region would have been quite different.
“We were working closely with Mr Jirongo and for those of us who were at the party secretariat, it became clear things were not going according to plan due to a financial setback,” Mr Welangai said.
“Politics has a lot of dynamics which must run in tandem with the strategy of its key members. In the case of our party, our strategy did not work out as we had planned and we ended up financing our campaigns from our pockets,” Mr Welangai added.
Nominated MCA Alice Ahuga from Vihiga Couty Assembly echoed similar views on Mr Jirongo’s presidential race debacle.
She said despite the popularity of UDP at the grassroots, failure by the party’s presidential candidate to show up in campaigns put paid to their efforts to win ward ...
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