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23 years old university student wins parliamentary seat for Igembe South

As counting was still going on at the Maua Girls School constituency tallying centre, John Paul Mwirigi last evening had a 76 per cent lead on his closest contender, who had 13 per cent.

Mr Mwirigi, who is pursuing a degree in education at Mount Kenya University, was vying as an independent candidate.

He was competing against Jubilee candidate Rufus Miriti, Mzalendo Mwenda (PNU), Mutuma Kubai of Maendeleo Chap Chap, and DP’s Raphael Muringi.

Supporters of the soft-spoken leader camped outside the tallying centre as the counting was going on, ignoring police orders to keep off.

When they realised that their preferred candidate was leading with a big margin, they started celebrating, prompting the police and IEBC officials to allow them to get the youthful leader out of the tallying centre for a celebration in Maua town.

They did rounds in Maua town before going to a valley to hold prayers.

Mwirigi attributed his victory to his closeness to mwananchi and his involvement in community development activities. He said he is from a poor background and it is a miracle that he even got university fees.

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“I am always with my people and they know the struggle (l have gone through) for the prosperity of our society and that’s why they chose me. My opponents spent a lot of money in their campaigns. Some even tried to bribe voters but the people of Igembe were wise to choose someone who has their interests at heart and that is me,” he said.

When he is sworn in, Mwirigi might be the youngest legislator in the august House, which will see Meru County retain the crown of electing youthful leaders even after Buuri MP Kinoti Gatobu’s exit from active politics. Mwirigi was born in January 1994 at Akachiu village in Igembe South.

He said what prompted him to contest the seat despite having no resources for campaigning was lack of development in the constituency and the deplorable state of infrastructure.

He vowed to focus on youth and women employment.

Before seeking an elective seat Mwirigi was a boda boda rider in Maua. He also told The Standard that when on school break, he would work as a casual labourer in tea factories in the area, earning Sh350 a day.

[Darlington Manyara] 

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