Kenya Kwanza, Azimio to lock horns over CoG
A fierce battle is looming between President-Elect William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza and Raila Odinga’s Azimio-One Kenya over control of the Council of Governors (CoG) leadership.
Rivalry between the two sides comes at a time when governors elected on the two formations are set to troop to the coastal town of Mombasa for their induction conference that will culminate in the election of the top leadership.
The meeting will start on Wednesday and end on Saturday when the county bosses convene for the inaugural council meeting to pick CoG chair and deputy.
Already governors Ahmed Abdullahi (Wajir), Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi), Joseph ole Lenku (Kajiado), Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni) and Ken Lusaka (Bungoma) have picked nomination forms for the chairperson post.
Apart from the chairperson’s position, also up for grabs is the council whip and chairpersons of 18 various committees.
Council leadership is elected to serve a one-year term renewable term.
Kenya Kwanza coalition has 23 governors in its fold with the inclusion of Meru’s Kawira Mwangaza (Independent) while Azimio also has 23.
Taita Taveta Governor Andrew Mwadime is yet to declare his choice of coalition.
The CoG chairperson post was created by the Intergovernmental Relations Act 2012 to oversee activities of governors.
It has increasingly emerged as politically influential.
After seizing control of the Senate and National Assembly, President-Elect Ruto is now training his eyes on the control of Council of Governors, setting a stage for an epic battle with Azimio coalition.
Traditionally, CoG has picked its chair and deputy through consensus but sources indicate that Ruto-allied governors are unhappy that their coalition wants them to vote on party lines, as opposed to one picked through consensus that has previously produced candidates that fit the bill.
In addition, sources have told People Daily that the county bosses are also reaching out to the candidates separately ahead of the induction meeting to salvage themselves from interference from outside forces.
Sources privy to the ongoings divulged that it had emerged that Azimio has settled for Governor Abdullahi to be deputised by Mutula while Ole Lenku will vie for the position of council whip.
In Kenya Kwanza, the contest is between Governor Waiguru and Lusaka with some insisting that the former should be the chairperson deputised by the latter.
Should she be elected into office, Waiguru will have many first as she was the first Devolution Cabinet Secretary in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s first term.
In 2017, she was among the three first women elected governors including the late Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso and former Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu.
While Waiguru, has received backing from his Mount Kenya and Rift valley governors, Abdullahi is seen as a front runner in the race and has won support from a bulk of governors who perceive him as a safe pair of hands and a true champion of devolution.
Abdullahi is also viewed as a favourite conciliator who will unite council members after a polarised campaign period
He is also seen as an “ideal candidate” to also resolve the late disbursement of funds by the National Treasury that has plagued counties.
He previously served as chair of the council Finance Committee, where he pushed for various reforms in the IFMIS system.
He is the immediate former adviser of Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani.
“Council shall elect a chairperson and a vice-chairperson from amongst its members. Chairperson and vice-chairperson shall serve for a term of one year and shall be eligible for re-election for one further term,” the Act.
CoG chair is prestigious and comes with all the trappings of power as it influences most decisions made in counties.
Also, the chairperson is entitled to using a helicopter, among other privileges.
The CoG spokesperson co-chairs the Intergovernmental Budget Executive Council headed by the Deputy President.
Besides the elections, the new county chiefs will be taken through several issues, including understanding devolution set-up and legal and policy framework guiding the devolved units.
The four-day event’s theme is “Towards better Governance and outcome-driven service delivery at the counties”, according to a concept note seen by People Daily.
Also set for discussion is the teething devolution challenges, including late disbursement of funds by the National Treasury. Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o and Auditor General Nancy Gathungu are among those who will grace the event.
Last month, 45 elected governors took over the leadership of their counties.
Of the 45, 11 retained their seats, 26 assumed office for the first time, and eight were pioneer governors who recaptured their seats after losing them in the 2017 General Election.
Of the new governors, seven were in the previous Senate, some were public officials in the National government while others came from the private sector.