Not even President Uhuru Kenyatta, in whose hands Kangema MP Muturi Kigano’s Jubilee nomination fate had been placed, could save him.
This was after he insisted that as one who stood with the Handshake politics, including helping circumvent legal hurdles for the Building Bridges Initiative in Parliament as the chairman for Justice and Legal Affairs, he deserved recognition.
Mr Kigano also postulated that as one of the key pillars for the president in Mt Kenya and who had defied the Hustler Nation wave, he deserved preferential treatment.
But when all was said and done, nothing in his defence persuaded the party to consider him as an asset.
This saw him lose his desire to defend his seat during the August 9 General Election to George Kibuku.
After being told to agree amongst themselves on who to be cleared to contest, Mr Kigano had insisted that, at 76, he felt he had unfinished business with his constituents and was not ready to cede ground.
On April 15, the Jubilee Party convened a special sitting at Windsor Golf Hotel where he was told that the party felt he should consider accepting an alternative offer so that he could let Mr Kibuku get the ticket.
“I am not ready to voluntarily step down,” Mr Kigano said. “It was better we get results on who should carry the day from the Kangema voters.”
Even after an opinion poll by the party that gave him 23 points against Mr Kibuku’s 79, the Kangema MP dismissed them as fake.
“I did not need to play dirty to win. I will present myself to the voters and they will rate me. If it is a development agenda, I have not heard people complaining [about it],” he said.
“I have remained loyal to the president and in turn he has favoured me with development projects that include more than 300 kilometres of road. The only lie I hear my detractors trying to beat me with is that of my age,” added the lawmaker.
That was when the issue was referred back to the Jubilee Party secretariat and to the President as the party leader.
Denied the ticket
On Thursday, the party ruled that Mr Kigano will not fly the Jubilee flag, becoming the only sitting Jubilee MP who stuck with the ruling party to be denied the ticket.
Mr Kibuku said he is happy that Jubilee and the President had placed on him the trust to deliver the seat, a task he said he will give an honest shot.
He said he respects the party, its processes and its party leader and is optimistic that he will deliver the seat.
Mr Kigano, a veteran lawyer, dismissed as propaganda assertions that he is too old, insisting that he feels he is half his age while upholding the adage that a man is as old as he feels.
He said that of all the negative sentiments spread by his competitors to discredit him, none sounded more ridiculous and far-fetched “than trying to brand me as a man whose mind is similar to a cabbage”.
In his campaigns, Mr Kigano had declared that he was seeking to serve for another five-year term as the Kangema MP.
“After that, I will announce what higher seat I will go for,” he said. “It might be Murang’a governor or even the presidency. Those who want to portray old age as a form of sickness or a curse should try their propaganda elsewhere, not with me who has the right to feel as young as I can.”
In the 12th Parliament, Mr Kigano’s closest age mate is Kitutu Chache MP Jimmy Agwenyi who is 77.
Young in the mind
“Mr Kigano is young in the mind. Service delivery is in the mind, not in the grey hair or in the face. We treat him with awe in Parliament since he oozes raw wisdom. If need be, all of us from the other six constituencies will come and campaign for him to be re-elected because our community needs his wise input in Parliament,” Gatanga MP Nduati Ngugi said at a past meeting.
Mr Kigano is a man of no small means and his war chest is said to be big enough to finance another shot at his seat through an independent ticket.
“This is the saddest moment for us in politics, being discriminated against owing to age. Mr Kigano is younger than Raila Odinga who, at 77, has the support of the Jubilee Party for the presidency. He is younger than 80-year-old Oburu Oginga whom the Jubilee Party is supporting. We are exploring options available for us and by May 8 we will have communicated,” said Kangema Constituency Development Caucus chairman Peter Njire.
May 8 is the deadline for candidates to register as independent contestants.
Never without drama
Known to be a good mixer even in small joints of Kangema constituency where he catches the latest from the ground, Mr Kigano’s life is never without drama.
He tells of an incident when Kangema police arrested him and he offered to help them shame him.
“They had arrested me just to prove to me that I was not worth any respect. If their aim was to shame me in the eyes of the public, I volunteered to remove my trousers for all to see my shame,” he said. “The trousers were near my knees when the officers forced them up, helped me tie the belt and released me.”
What endears him to many in Kangema is his ability not to play personalised politics. He often steers clear of confrontations.
“We love Mr Kigano because he has no favourites. He treats us equally and has a lot of wisdom to share. It is unheard of for Mr Kigano to be toxic in the current political debates that have split the country and Murang’a County into several factions. In his wisdom, he has told us that all these storms will reconcile under two main formations and that will be the ideal time to engage,” former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth says.
Mr Kigano is rated as the epitome of resilience since he started vying for the Kangema seat in 1974. He finally bagged it in 2017.It was only in 2007 that he did not contest since he was an officer with the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya.
Started vying at 28
Mr Kigano proudly says he started vying when he was 28 and bagged it when he was 71 after 43 years of persistent trying.
In 1990, a camera captured him being carried to safety by his colleague after he was injured in Nairobi during the agitation for multi-party democracy.
Polygamous and with five sons and a daughter, Mr Kigano schooled at Njiiris High School between 1960 to 1964 before enrolling at the Kenya School of Law in 1965.
He went to the University of Birmingham to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree in 1970. Besides being in private practice as a lawyer, he has also worked at the Agricultural Finance Corporation as a company secretary.