Don’t gamble with Nairobi’s top seat

Thursday, April 21st, 2022 04:00 | By
Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko with former deputy governor Polycarp Igathe at a past event. Photo/PD/FILE

Devolution is touted as one of the hallmarks of the 2010 Constitution. The spirit of devolution was to ensure effective and equitable dispersal of resources and services to improve and transform lives amongst communities.

After many years of living under a system in which resources were centralised and distributed as a whimsical token for a reward of political loyalty by the ruling elite, Kenyans thought that devolution provided the cure for some semblance of equity and remedy for historical injustices. Through the Constitution, they entrenched a set of obligations on leaders and a formula for distribution of resources that override primordial political loyalties.

 Indeed, devolution has been credited with the transformation of lives in some regions through expansion and enhanced services such as health and the construction of roads.  There have been riveting stories about communities accessing tapped water, tarmac roads and hospitals after decades of neglect. Gifted children from poor backgrounds could see their academic dreams achieved due to bursary schemes run by the sub-national governments.

But the story about the leadership of some counties in the advent of devolution has not been particularly inspiring.  The management of the counties has been replete with sordid cases of corruption, pilferage of resources, wastage and missed priorities that have denied targeted citizens public goods. 

It is immoral that some leaders of county governments see devolution as an avenue for primitive accumulation of resources for themselves, their cronies and relatives through shameless theft. Though some governors have been convicted by the Senate and removed from office through impeachment, corruption and mismanagement continue thriving in counties.

That is why our attention has been drawn to the ongoing party nominations for the governorship candidates for key counties, notably Nairobi, which has in the past fallen victim to bad governance. Predictably, the vested interests of powerful political and business elite have converged to influence the county’s next leadership.

By its strategic nurture, Nairobi county is not only the country’s capital but hosts a significant chunk of its national wealth as well as serves as the economic and diplomatic hub of the wider East Africa region. Nairobians deserve competent and tested leadership to restore the city to its lost glory.

There are indications that political-deal making could block various leaders and professionals who have offered themselves in the contest to lead Nairobi. Nairobi citizens must be allowed to determine their next governor. And he/she must be a steady hand at the tiller.

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