Saturday, 23 March 2013

Big money campaigns that paid off

Nairobi Governor-elect Evans Kidero  during a campaign rally at the Kamukunji grounds in Nairobi. Behind him is Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Photo/File
Nairobi Governor-elect Evans Kidero during a campaign rally at the Kamukunji grounds in Nairobi. Behind him is Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Photo/File 
By BDLife Team

Posted  Thursday, March 14  2013 at  14:47

It goes without saying that the just-ended General Election was the most expensive, biggest and flashiest in Kenya’s history. For some, the investment was worth it as they emerged winners and can now hopefully deliver on the numerous promises they made to win the votes.Though it was not easy to get the exact amount of money spent by each candidate or coalition, estimated costs of some of the investments they made shows just how savvy most campaign were.The two main coalitions – Cord and Jubilee – led with big gun spending on the presidential races assembling lethal weaponry that included fixed wing planes, helicopters, hundreds of branded vehicles, media campaigns and thousands of foot-soldiers to reach the voters.

The Jubilee Alliance had six helicopters, of which three 5-seaters were hired from Wilson Airport-based company ALS Limited, and four fixed wing planes on its campaign trail. ALS charges about $1,700 (Sh147,900) per hour for its helicopters, for a minimum of two hours. For every hour the coalition paid the aviation company about Sh443,700, excluding fuel.A research by Ipsos Synovate Kenya showed that the Jubilee Coalition had the highest media spend followed by the Cord Coalition, during the period. By the end of last year, Jubilee had spent about Sh40.66 million compared to Cord’s Sh23.29 million.Musalia Mudavadi-led Amani spent Sh4.58 million, Peter Kenneth’s Eagle Sh1.47 million, while the other parties spent about Sh10 million combined. Costs for Jubilee, included fees for British PR firm BTP whose advisers handled Kenyatta’s image.The two leading coalitions took out airtime on prime time TV and put strategic bill boards across the country. Considering that a one minute advert on Prime time TV slot costs about Sh318,600, while a radio advert goes for Sh45,000 for a 45 second spot, a full page political advert cost about Sh615,000 in the local newspapers while the cost of a billboard, per month, averages Sh140,000. Add all this and you begin to see the kind of expenditure we are talking about.

Also using similar platforms to sell his vision for Nairobi city was Governor-elect Evans Kidero who had a fully-staffed secretariat from two years ago. The former head of Mumias Sugar Company rolled out a well-oiled campaign to beat his closest rival, Ferdinand Waititu. He invested heavily on vehicles to tour all parts of the city and the media to sell his ‘Dawa’ ya Nairobi (Nairobi’s medicine) campaign.Gideon Mbuvi alias Mike Sonko is renowned for his outrageous stunts and outlandish style. In the race for the senate seat, and during the campaign trail, he lived up to his reputation. A party branded smart car was in tow with his vehicles while he was on the campaign trail. The smart car with SENATOR 1 personalised plates was seen wherever the senator-elect campaigned.Personalised plates cost Sh100,000 while the smart car costs Sh2million for a new one or Sh1.5million for an imported used one. A week to the election, a 15-minute documentary on the senator elect’s role in the community while he was MP ran on all the major local stations. The approximate cost for the documentary was Sh4.77 million per showing. Mike Sonko’s investment finally paid off as he bagged the Senator’s seat.

In Mombasa, Governor-elect Ali Hassan Joho is reported to have spent well over Sh700 million to win the highly competitive seat. His fiercest competitor, Wiper’s Suleiman Shahbal is said to have spent over Sh500 million in the exercise that is still a court matter after he petitioned Joho’s victory.“Money flowed in this area. I was an insider and I can tell you I have not seen so much money being spent”, a close confident of the Governor-elect told us.The huge billboards along the Mombasa-Malindi Road, Likoni-Kwale Road, Mombasa-Nairobi Highway and every available space said it all – big money spent.“For one such big billboard, we paid Sh600,000 per week. We also spent colossal amounts of money printing T-shirts, caps, hiring road-show trucks, paying campaigners, buying airtime on TV, radio and newspapers among other things”, our sources revealed.“Joho also funded all the ODM parliamentary, county representatives and women representative aspirants and met all their costs. It paid off because the team bagged all the seats in Mombasa County”, said our source.

Other candidates in the county such as former Changamwe MP Ramadhan Kajembe who went for the senatorial seat are said to have spent between Sh50 and Sh100 million in their campaigns. Former Mvita MP Najib Balala is also said to have spent in the range of Sh50 to Sh100 million but he also lost. The Kilifi County Governor-elect Amason Kingi is said to have spent about Sh90 million”, said a source in Kilifi.In Kiambu County, William Kabogo took the gubernatorial seat. His chopper was seen flying across his county as he campaigned for the seat. Branded vehicles from saloon cars to pick ups and land cruisers were a regular sight for the residents of Kiambu county. Among the vehicles were land cruisers, pick up’s and Toyota saloons which cost between Sh15,000 and Sh5,000 per day.For Jimnah Mbaru, who vied for the Nairobi governor’s seat it was not easy to get any figures but at the beginning of the year, the Dyer and Blair Investments chair received nearly Sh500million from the sale of his stake in British American investment Company.

In Narok County, Andrew Sunkuli who was seeking the senator’s seat hired helicopters for the entire campaign period. However, Sunkuli who many often referred to as “Mr Chopper” because of his mode of transport ended up losing to Stephen ole Ntutu. But he would not reveal how much he used although he admits the entire campaign was too costly for him.Besides the chopper, he had a whole secretariat with an office in Nairobi which he set up two years ago. The secretariat of six people who have been on a monthly salary for the period. He also had another campaign team on the ground, which he also constituted back in 2011.In Nyanza, the race was no different as politicians splashed out money in their campaigns, some going to the extent of hiring choppers to aid in their campaign while some had bill boards, posters and paid adverts to enable their course. They, however, did not spend like their counterparts in Nairobi and Mombasa.Edwin Philip Anayo won the Market Milimani ward in Kisumu Central Constituency on a PDP ticket. Anayo was the candidate with the highest number of billboard and posters in the constituency. Along with the road shows and adverts, he says he used over Sh2 million in his campaign trail. He revealed that he held a fundraising dinner in early January where he raised Sh2.6 million. He also got donations from his friends abroad.

In the same city, first time MP-elect Ken Obura who won the newly created Kisumu Central Constituency is also said to have spent a lot in his campaigns. Though his campaign team refused to reveal details of how much he spent, sources close to the youthful MP say he may have used over Sh5 million.However, the use of money did not work for some candidates. One such loser was Anne Anyanga, wife of Nyatike MP-elect Edick Anyanga, who was the running mate of Prof Oyugi Akongo who was vying for the Migori Governor’s position. Ms Anyanga had before the primaries caused a stir in the county as she used a chopper to transverse the huge county.She, however, refused to confirm whether the chopper was privately owned or hired only choosing to say that it was a ‘private matter’. Instead of the usual T-shirts that are issued to supporters in campaigns, Ms Anyanga provided her supporters with kikois and lesos which cost around a million shillings.As the general election fever gradually cools down, politicians who lost are perhaps busy tabulating figures to ascertain their exact campaign net loss. In the North Rift region, for instance, former powerful minister in the Kanu regime Nicholas Biwott who was eyeing the Elgeyo Marakwet Senate seat is believed to have run one of the most lavish campaigns.

Being among the richest men in the country, the former Keiyo South put together a powerful campaign secretariat with the sole aim of clinching the seat. Biwott traversed the vast region using a chopper. It is not clear whether he hired the machine for the entire campaign period or whether it was one of the many he owns.He also hired the services of self-proclaimed king of bling bling Jackson Makini popularly known as Prezzo to help woo university students and the youths in general.The National Vision Party (NVP) chairman had close to 10 branded four-wheel Range Rovers and Land Cruisers. Apart from the logistics, Biwott had a fully-staffed secretariat in Eldoret to manage his tight itinerary and coordinate the campaigns.Although tight lipped on how much he spent, sources close to his campaign secretariat revealed that Biwott spent close to Sh50 million but lost to former Moi University law lecturer Kipchumba Murkomen, a greenhorn in politics.In the Uasin Gishu gubernatorial race, Higher education minister Prof Margaret Kamar is also believed to have spent a substantial amount of money in her quest as the first governor of the county. It is estimated that she could have spent close to Sh15 million in her quest for the seat.

In Nyeri County, Former Mathira MP Ephraim Maina who lost the race for the Nyeri County senate seat might have spent a fortune in his campaign. He painted the county red with T-shirts and caps bearing his name and picture with those in the know saying the sheer numbers of such merchandise cost millions. Attempts to reach him for a comment on the amount of money he spent were futile as his phone went unanswered.Unconfirmed reports however indicated that Maina gave TNA ward representative candidates from the county with Sh100,000 each.“He might have spent between Sh40 to Sh50 million in Mathira constituency alone but for the senator’s seat, he had to look for votes in six constituencies, meaning that he might have spent a similar amount in each of those constituencies” said a source.BDLife learnt that Maina’s campaigners distributed T-shirts to every homestead in Mathira constituency. His adverts were also aired  in vernacular FM stations during prime time and after every few minutes.He had bought about 40 probox vehicles which were branded and were being used by his campaigners to move from village to village. Even with the huge amounts of money he apparently spent, Maina failed to capture the Nyeri senatorial seat losing to former Information minister Mutahi Kagwe.

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