Young and broke, MP rides matatu to State House date
After the Jubilee parliamentary group meeting on Wednesday at State House, that was chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta, one thing stood out.
A 23-year-old man, the MP-elect for Igembe South John Paul Mwirigi did what most Kenyans would say does not befit the status of an MP.
Mr Mwirigi, the youngest MP, does not own a car. He relies on friends to drive him around.
After being driven to State House by Tharaka MP George Murugara, Mr Mwirigi did not want to bother his colleagues any more. Once the meeting ended, he walked out of State House, past the gate towards town in the hope that he will meet a Mr Kobia, a friend who had volunteered to drive him around until he gets a car.
“I am actually walking to town from State House. I didn’t want to bother my colleagues even though many of them were willing to give me a ride,” Mr Mwirigi said on phone when contacted by the Nation about the meeting.
Mr Mwirigi contested as an independent candidate flooring those with elaborate campaign machines from the start.
He said his intention was to bring the job of an MP closer to the people unlike his predecessors who “take off immediately after they are elected”.
On Tuesday morning as he went for the induction for members of the National Assembly, Mr Mwirigi travelled from Meru by matatu.
He boarded the matatu like any other passenger from Meru Town to the famous Tearoom stage in Nairobi’s River Road.
Throughout the two-and-a-half hour journey, nobody seemed to recognise him, he said, until he met Mr Kobia, who offered to drive him to Parliament Buildings.
He carried his election certificate and identity card to show that he was indeed an elected MP, securing him easy entry into Parliament Buildings.
He was ushered in and taken around.
“Everyone was willing to take me around,” the jovial Mr Mwirigi said of his first time at Parliament Buildings.
He said he spent the night at his sister’s place in Nairobi’s Pipeline estate. However, he later looked for an alternative and is now staying at friend’s as he prepares to settle down with his first salary just a few days away.
Mr Mwirigi is a man who has surmounted many barriers. From being a sand mixer at a construction site, a firewood hawker earning between Sh200 to Sh350 a day, he is set to earn a six-figure monthly salary.
A basic salary of Sh623, 000 plus responsibility allowances await the sixth born in a family of eight. “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,” he said adding that none of his elder siblings has a formal job.
With the car grant the MPs used to enjoy scrapped by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, he might have to wait longer before acquiring a car befitting the status of an MP.
However, he is not bothered by what he terms the luxuries of life as long as he is able to get from point A to B. But some MPs have promised to raise funds so that he buys a car.
Former National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi praised Mr Mwirigi’s determination.
“He is a young man but he has achieved so much within a very short period. This is a story to tell. I feel so proud of him,” he said.
Budalang’i MP-elect Raphael Wanjala said it was a privilege to serve in the House with a colleague young enough to be his fourth born son. “It’s an incredible achievement he has made. I am just so happy for him,” Mr Wanjala said.