I became MP to serve my people, not amass wealth, says former hawker - Daily Nation

Mwirigi: I became MP to serve my people, not amass wealth

Monday January 1 2018

President Kenyatta with Hon. John Paul Mwirigi

Igembe South MP John Paul Mwirigi receives a new car from President Kenyatta during a meeting with central Kenya leaders at Sagana State Lodge in Nyeri County in September. PHOTO | SAMUEL MIRING'U | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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At the end of the first Jubilee parliamentary group meeting at State House in Nairobi on August 30, three weeks after the general election, one thing stood out.

Mr John Paul Mwirigi, 23, who had just been elected MP for Igembe South, walked from State House to the city centre to board a matatu home because he did not own a car.

This is not a common occurrence with elected leaders in the country. His was that of humility and courage.

The newly elected MP had also boarded a matatu to Nairobi for his swearing-in.  

President Kenyatta had convened the meeting on the eve of the MPs’ swearing-in to chart the Jubilee agenda in Parliament.

This happened just a day before the Supreme Court nullified his victory on account of massive irregularities and illegalities in the August 8 presidential election.


Mr Mwirigi was new in Nairobi and despite his changed status, the youngest MP in the calendar of Kenyan Parliament, wanted to board a matatu to Eastland’s Pipeline estate, where he was staying with his elder sister in a one-roomed house when he came for the swearing-in.

“I did not want to be a nuisance to my colleagues even though many of them were willing to give me a ride,” said Mr Mwirigi, who was elected as an independent candidate said.

He beat candidates with well-oiled and elaborate campaign machinery to inherit the seat previously held by current Meru Senator Mithika Linturi.  

The young legislator had been driven to State House by Tharaka MP George Murugara and did not want to bother him or his colleagues anymore after the function and so he decided to walk.

“Immediately the meeting was over, I remember getting out not like an MP but like a worker, who was done for the day at State House. I walked past the gate towards town in the hope of meeting  a friend, Mr Kobia,” he said.


His friend had volunteered to drive him around the city as he prepared to get his own car.

Four months down the line,  his situation has changed.  

“I can say that I now own the car that I was given by President Uhuru Kenyatta. It is the only car that I have and I am not planning to buy another one before accomplishing the things that I had planned to do,” Mr Mwirigi said.

He, however, said what has not changed is how he relates with the people who elected him.


“They are my bosses. They gave me a job and I will continue to relate with them in the same  manner I did as I was seeking their support. Unlike many politicians who turn away from their voters once they get elected, my people will always come first,” he said.

From a sand mixer at a construction site in Meru to a firewood hawker earning between Sh200 and Sh350 a day, Mr Mwirigi now earns a six-figure salary.

At the disposal of the sixth born in the family of eight are committee and travelling allowances, among other perks and privileges that go with the office of an MP.

“My father who died in 2014 was a security company driver. My mother is a peasant farmer in Meru. Whatever she grows caters for our family but I will now supplement her efforts,” he said.