Kananu: End of an era of ‘caretaker’ governor in Nairobi
Former Nairobi County Governor Ann Kananu could go down in history as a passing cloud.
Having ascended to the city’s highest office courtesy of the downfall of maverick Mike Sonko, for the two years she had been at the helm, Kananu remained a mere figurehead, as the real powers at City Hall pulled strings from behind the scenes.
Besides presiding over some nondescript public functions and occasionally issuing statements in response to negativities unearthed by the media, Kananu’s tenure was hardly felt with public opinion court declaring her as colourless.
“Nothing much would be remembered of her apart from the fact that she was the lady whose luck smiled on her to become Nairobi governor without any sweat,” political analyst Dismus Mokua says.
Kananu’s journey began when Sonko, either consciously or unconsciously, was made to sign a deed of novation before President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House that saw the transfer of most critical functions of the county to Nairobi Metropolitan Service under Lieutenant General Mohamed Badi.
The signing ceremony followed chaotic scenes and confusion that had gripped City Hall as Members of the County Assembly revolted against Sonko’s tumultuous administration.
The tenure of the deed was to last 24 months but was later extended to run till October, 2022. Following incessant pressure from MCAs and several stakeholders, Sonko gave in and named Kananu as his deputy.
But unbeknown to him, Sonko would soon be impeached over accusations of gross violation of the Constitution, abuse of office and gross misconduct.
For almost 10 months, the city was to be run without a substantive office holder, as Sonko turned her former ally, Kananu, fighting hard to stop her from succeeding him. After several legal battles, the Court of Appeal later allowed Kananu to be sworn in as the first Nairobi female governor. Quick to please the powers behind her installation, she pledged to work closely with NMS with her first assignment being the signing of entities, which her predecessor had declined.
Unlike Sonko, who had turned around to accuse NMS of taking over his functions through the backdoor, Kananu established a rapport with NMS, appearing at public functions together several times. It was during her swearing-in when Kananu made clear her willingness to extend the contract of NMS notwithstanding the fact that most of the governor’s roles and mandate had been usurped by the entity.
Before being appointed a deputy governor, Kananu had been in-charge of the county Disaster and Emergency Management department. Those close to her say during her tenure, most of her role had been consigned to approving budgets and assenting to bills with most core mandates having been taken over by NMS.
And as if to prove that she was Nairobi’s passing cloud, Kananu was never accorded the same opportunity granted to other governors to address national celebrations whenever they are held in their areas of jurisdictions.
However, Kananu says she had no problem being treated with such contempt, and instead insisting that her tenure had been successful without witnessing incidents of confrontations.
Kananu says she likes working on issues quietly by moving to the ground where she interacts with people without worrying about anything. “As long as I am doing the right thing, I am not worried about what people say. President Uhuru was behind my ascension to power and he has no problem with me because since I assumed office, Nairobi has been peaceful,” she said.