By Biodun Busari
As the people of Kenya are set to elect a new President in less than 24 hours, here are brief profiles of the presidential candidates.
William Ruto, 55-year-old deputy president who started politics in his 20s
William Ruto is the deputy president to President Uhuru Kenyatta who began politics in his 20s as a campaigner for former President Daniel Moi and later secured a seat in the National Assembly in 1997.
He supported President Uhuru Kenyatta during his first presidential run in 2002, where he lost to an opposition coalition headed by Mwai Kibaki, who was backed by Odinga.
Later, Ruto collaborated with Odinga in 2007 to dislodge Kibaki, who then had the support of Kenyatta.
The Ruto and Kenyatta alliance won two consecutive elections in 2013 and 2017, before the truce between Kenyatta and Odinga the following year ruptured the ruling Jubilee Party and isolated Ruto.
It also resulted in Kenyatta reneging on a promise to back Ruto at the end of his two terms.
Ruto used to sell live chickens on the side of a highway, but now possesses one of the biggest poultry farms in the country. His business empire includes hospitality and real estate.
He has vowed to invest at least 500 billion shillings in farming, which employs more than 40% of the labour force, and in small businesses.
Ruto has promised not to refurbish the nation’s debt.
77-year-old Raila Odinga, former prime minister and Kenyan’s first vice president’s son
Raila Odinga is the son of Kenya’s first vice president, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, and has the backing of his former rival, President Kenyatta.
Odinga will be contesting for the fifth time to be the president of Kenya.
He is a mechanical engineer who studied in Germany and unlike Ruto, he has promised to restructure the nation’s commercial debt to ease the burden of repayments, which take up more than half of Kenya’s tax collections every year.
Odinga, popularly known as Baba, has promised to transfer 6,000 shillings ($50) every month to poor households. He also pledged universal health care and free education from early childhood to tertiary level.
The septuagenarian politician lost to Kenyatta, son of the nation’s founding president, in the 2013 elections. In 2018, Kenyatta and Odinga agreed on a treaty that resulted in the incumbent supporting Odinga’s bid for the presidency over his own deputy.
Odinga is the founder of East African Spectre, a company that specialises in the manufacture of liquid petroleum gas cylinders.
David Waihiga Mwaure, lawyer, pastor who has lost political offices five times
David Mwaure is in his fifties and this is his sixth attempt at a political office as he is seeking to be President to return what he says is the illegal wealth of $125 billion stockpiled overseas.
Mwaure founded the Agano party in 2006, with the aim of promoting development, a servant-leadership of vision, integrity, professionalism, and excellence. However, the party failed to produce a presidential candidate in the 2007 general elections.
In 2011, Mwaure contested for the Kamukunji Parliamentary seat using the Agano party ticket. This was after the High Court annulled the election of MP Simon Mbugua due to malpractices in the 2007 elections. However, Mwaure lost the by-election.
Mwaure had publicised his intention of running for the presidency during the 2013 elections. He however changed his mind and decided to run for Lamu gubernatorial seat instead. Unfortunately, he lost the gubernatorial seat.
The politician later applied to become a supreme court judge in Kenya. The Judicial Service Commission went ahead and held an interview with him, but then rejected him for the position. In 2022, Mwaure also applied for a court of Appeal judge position but failed to get it.
In 2021, Waihiga went ahead and tried to get the Nairobi Gubernatorial seat which was left vacant after Governor Mike Mbuvi’s leave. He however never got the chance to be elected as the race never went to the ballot.
He is running for the 2022 presidential seat using his Agano party ticket and also pledged loans and grants to help women and the youth start and run small enterprises.
George Wajackoyah, law professor planning to legalize industrial marijuana
George Wajackoyah is a 63-year-old professor of law and former police officer.
He was once a street child in Kenya and a grave digger in the United Kingdom and has vowed to legalise industrial marijuana, boost snake farming, and export dog meat and hyena testicles to improve the Kenyan health sector.
He claimed it could earn Kenya more than nine trillion shillings ($76bn; £64bn) annually, and the government would “never have to borrow a single coin” again.
Wajackoyah has been labelled as the most eccentric of the four presidential candidates and has argued that exports of unconventional products will help Kenya repay its entire debts.
The ex-cop also plans to shut down the Chinese-built and $5 billion funded standard gauge railway that links the capital, Nairobi, with the port of Mombasa, saying it is a symbol of Chinese colonisation.
Wajackoyah, an immigration lawyer who spent years challenging decisions at the Department of Immigration at the UK’s Home Office, plans to ban the constitution and deport foreigners.