At the start of Thursday November 7, the election day in Kibra, Jubilee candidate McDonald Mariga was a very confident man.
Even after failing to vote for himself because he is not a registered voter in the constituency with one of the largest slums in Africa, he said he was confident of winning the city seat.
But things would soon change.
At 11pm Thursday, with only 60 out of 183 polling stations tallied, Mariga conceded defeat by Orange party candidate Imran Okoth to the surprise of his supporters and rivals.
"I would like to congratulate you for wining. We had a healthy competition and I’m ready to support your leadership," Mariga said in a video message.
Mariga’s concession came as a surprise in a country where even candidates with remotest chances of winning in elections move all the way to the Supreme Court to challenge results.
In Kenya, many a candidate, some trailing with ocean-wide gaps, also wait for the final tally before conceding defeat.
Still, some never concede at all even after the apex court pronounces itself on their contests and resort to violence.
So, what prompted Mariga, the man who enjoyed the company of Deputy President Willam Ruto, to call it a day so early?
It has emerged that Mariga sensed defeat way before the electoral commission started counting and tallying votes in the Kibra by-election.
He threw in the towel after reports from the Jubilee tallying centre showed that he would not beat Mr Okoth even if they waited for the final results.
The message, sent to President Kenyatta’s top party leadership, saw Jubilee MPs who had campaigned and stood with the former footballer resign to fate too.
Kikiyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah, his Lang’ata counterpart Nixon Korir and John Kiarie of Dagoretti South, who had also assured their supporters that Mariga was winning, left the constituency tallying centre moments before Mariga made the announcement.
ODM MPs and no-nonsense agents manned polling stations and had got their figures before midnight when IEBC Returning Officer Beatrice Muli had just started announcing the results.
“Madam returning officer, we have tallied our own results and our candidates has won,” said Suna East MP Junet Mohamed at the IEBC tallying centre after the ODM brigade started complaining about the slow pace of releasing the results.
“We request you to go by our figures since the results here are trickling slowly.”
The Jubilee team did not dispute ODM’s allegations and this was evident when not even a single Jubilee MP was present when the final results were released at Nairobi City Inspectorate Training College hall.
Jubilee Chief Whip and Mumias East Benjamin Washiali confirmed to the Nation that they had a tallying centre at Ngong Hills Hotel where their results were being sent by their agents through their mobile phones.
“We conceded defeat because the results we had tallied showed our opponents were leading,” he said.
“But we have not lost it all since we have gained ground and I can assure you that in 2022, Mariga will beat Imran. He will not leave the constituency and the deployment that we saw being done by ODM won’t be there to help him then.”
National Assembly Minority Leader and ODM Chairman John Mbadi, also in an interview with the Nation, confirmed that party had its tallying centre at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation offices where their agents also sent the results.
“It was not at the tallying centre as such but our agents, through members of parliament manning the polling stations, forwarded the results and we were adding them as they came,” he said.
“The figure released was different from ours by a small margin but this can be attributed to the way we organised ourselves to protect our votes. We had our MPs in all the polling stations,” added Mr Mbadi.