The adage that is it is not over until it is over is alive in the National Assembly as old, but familiar names, make it back to the House from their various political Siberias.
Former MPs that had been in the political cold for decades bear-hugged amid hearty laughs with fellow veterans and parliamentary staff as they returned to the familiar territory.
One-time Ntonyiri lawmaker Maoka Maore, now the Igembe North MP-elect, and the new Budalang’i MP Raphael Wanjala are among the names that are back after a ten-year hiatus.
It was also a grand re-union for ex- MPs Amos Kimunya (Kipipiri), Jeremiah Kioni (Ndaragwa) Joshua Kutuny (Cherang’any), Fred Kapondi (Mt Elgon), Charles Kilonzo (Yatta) and Peter Mwathi (Limuru), who recaptured their seats after five years.
In 2013 Kimunya lost his Kipipiri seat to lawyer Samuel Kamunye Gichigi who garnered 18,972 votes against Kimunya’s 16,689. Rubbed the wrong way, Kimunya fired an angry letter to the people of Kipipiri admonishing them for not appreciating his development record.
Returning officer Acenia Njoroge would read out the letter after declaring the results.
In 2013 Jeremiah Kioni quit the PNU to be Musalia’s Mudavadi’s running mate in United Democratic Party, UDP. They did not win. Musalia himself had decamped from Raila Odinga’s ODM.
As for Raphael Wanjala, his brush with the law in high drama that involved his partner Joyce Akinyi was the stuff of a successful movie. Throw in the Nigerian Anthony Chinedu’s matrimonial and business wars with Akinyi and the movie got better.
The legislators told The Standard it felt good to be back to the House, with most explaining that they learnt useful lessons in the cold.
“It was hard for me at first to adjust to life outside parliament, having had been an MP for 15 years. But I coped quickly. I am happy that the people of Igembe North chose to have me as their legislator again,” said Maore who lost his seat in 2007.
Wanjala, who was sent packing by the outgoing MP Ababu Namwaba in 2007, said he was overjoyed to reconnect with his former colleagues, adding that he was wiser after staying back and working with his constituents when he was out of office.
Kapondi said it felt great to be back to parliament and promised to discharge his duties diligently.
” I learnt useful lessons after I failed to make it back to parliament. My challenge now is to satisfy the huge expectations my constituency has after they re-elected me with an overwhelming majority,” said Kapondi.
Kioni said break from politics gave him time to reflect on his life and opportunity to be with his family.
“I somehow enjoyed being outside. When you are in politics it is easy to forget your family. I am happy I had ample time with my family during the break. It is good to come back and interact again with new MPs and the old guard that served with me,” he said.
Kutuny, who was outspoken in and out of the 10th parliament before he was sent packing by former Boston Marathon Winner Wesley Korir, said the five years outside parliament helped him have a broader outlook in life.
“I was lucky I got an opportunity to serve in another capacity as an advisor of President Uhuru Kenyatta. I learnt a lot and I am a better person now,” said Kutuny, who however, promised that he will still be his old self.
“Kutuny will just remain the Kutuny you saw between 2007 and 2013. I will defend President Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto like I used to and speak my mind without fear,” he said, adding that he will also put more effort in his legislative duties and developing the constituency.
On his part Kilonzo, who was vocal in the 10th parliament, said he will continue with his fight against graft in government, pledging to fight to uplift the lives of his Yatta electorate.
“Today is the greatest day of my life. I am happy that I have another opportunity to serve the people of Yatta. The confidence the electorate had in me gives me inspiration to work hard,” said the MP.