Kenya’s presidential candidates take their campaigns to the air

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President Uhuru Kenyatta and the National Super Alliance (NASA)Principal leader RailaOdinga are some of the key politicians who own the choppers registered by civil aviation authorities

By Njeri Kimani, editorial@alleastafrica.com

NAIROBI – Kenyan politicians have literally taken the battle to the air with more than 50 choppers expected to be used in the next general election campaigns.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and the National Super Alliance (NASA)Principal leader Raila Odinga are some of the key politicians who own the choppers registered by civil aviation authorities.

The choppers are expected to be leased for campaigns, with owners laughing all the way to the bank.

A chopper is hired at a cost of between ksh 150 000 – ksh 180 000 per hour.

Kenyans still remain shocked over the source of cash for the politicians, with examples of Kirinyaga Woman Representative Purity Ngirichi leasing a branded chopper for a record eight months from the Kenyatta family.

The choppers became the subject of debate during the burial of the later Nyeri governor when in a show of might politicians thronged the burial venue with branded choppers.

Raila’s owns a Eurocopter, which he is said to be using regularly in his campaigns.

UasinGishu gubernatorial aspirant Bundotich Zedekiah Kiprop (Buzeki) in his campaign leased three choppers ahead of the jubilee Primaries and branded them with Deputy President William Rutos images. He however lost to the incumbent  Jackson Mandago.

Sources indicate that NASA co-principal Musalia Mudavadi is owes a chopper with his Eurocopter registered as is 5Y TXM.

Former Cabinet minister Nicholas Biwott owns two similar choppers operated by Wilson Airport-based Air Kenya.

Businessman Jimmy Wanjigi, Former Cabinet Minister Simeon Nyachae , retired President MwaiKibaki, Baringo Senator Gideon Moi and Senator Lenny Kivutu owns helicopters as well.

Senatorial aspirant Ephraim caused a stir when he landed in Kieni South to commission a wooden bridge costing ksh7800.

Maina  landed at  Kabaru location in Kieni East to launch a wooden bridge  which the community had come up together to  build it.

Kenyans marked the event with mixed reactions, arguing that the politicians should have instead attempted to build a permanent bridge using the cash he had used to fuel his chopper.

“We should reevaluate the leaders we elect. Instead of him looking into ways to raise more money to create permanent projects he came to floss to the residents with his machines. He has no interest for the people who put him in power,” said Jane Wanjiku.

However, Kenyans feel the use of choppers has often attracted negative attention with residents feeling the money “wasted” should be drawn into doing other beneficial stuff.

“In a country that is struggling with food security and lack of peace, it’s a shame that politicians can look into flossing and feeling big. The money that they are wasting should be invested into ensuring that no Kenyan goes to bed hungry,” said Emily Muchiri.

Paul Mwangi pointed out that most of the misused cash was proof that the candidates involved were guilty of the corruption scandals that accompanied them.

“There is no clear logic to explain how one can afford to fly all over the country on his own resources. Unless he is a thief, no Kenyan can afford to waste all that money on something that he is not guaranteed of. It’s a gamble and politicians are taking the highest bid. EACC should investigate the politicians involved and check where their income is generated from,” he added.

Collins Omondi, a political analyst, however, argues that most politicians are torn in between the use of choppers and vehicles.

Omondi argues that it is an attempt to blind the public in their show of might especially when landing in villages and other rural parts of the country.

“Most Kenyans are easily impressed and would choose to vote for someone who they think has a lot of cash. They are hoodwinked into thinking that this cash will be converted to their own benefits once they get the seat, which unfortunately is not the case,” he added.

In their defense however, Omondi points out that the politicians need to save time once they hit the campaign trail.

“Traversing around the country is quite tricky and would actually use more funds. For instance the least amount of cars a politicians trail can have is ten, which are mainly fuel guzzlers. At the end of the day it might actually be cheaper for them to use the choppers. Also their security is more guaranteed since it remains hard to attack them while they are airborne,” he added.

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