High noon as governors convene for election rite
The stage is set for the Council of Governors (CoG) elections today with at least four top officials facing stiff opposition amid questions over their performance over the last one year.
Those who were said to be burning the midnight oil ahead of today’s poll include current chairperson, Kirinyaga governor Anne Waiguru, her deputy, Wajir governor Ahmed Abdullahi and West Pokot governor, Simon Kachapin who heads the gender docket, with sources revealing that several governors were not happy with their performance over the last one year.
As of Thursday last week, only Waiguru had declared interest to defend her seat, but sources revealed that governors dissatisfied with per performance were lining up a secret candidate to take her on this morning.
“We are working on a secret card, we will spring a surprise, take my word,” said a county boss who sought anonymity for fear of being seen to rock the unity within the governors’ body.
Also facing opposition was Abdullahi, who sources would face opposition from Embu governor Cecily Mbarire.
Kachapin on the other hand was said to face opposition from his Homa Bay’s Gladys Wanga even though unconfirmed reports also linked the latter with the Vice Chairperson’s post held by the Wajir governor.
A notice of today’s meeting sent out by Waiguru dated September 11 listed the agenda of today’s meeting as presentation by the Intergovernmental Relations Technical Committee on the unbundling and transfer of functions report and the election of office bearers in accordance with Section 19(3) of IGRA.
“Notice is hereby given that in accordance with Intergovernmental Relations Act 2012 Section 21(2) and clause 4 of the Schedule, there shall be a Council of Governors Meeting to be held on Monday 2nd October 2023 from 10.00 am,” the notice read. “The venue of the meeting shall be the Council of Governors 11th floor, Ugatuzi boardroom,” the notice added.
Positions to be contested
It listed the positions to be contested to include the CoG chairperson, Vice Chairperson, CoG Chief Whip and chairpersons of various committees.
Interested candidates for various positions had upto Friday, to submit their nomination forms to the CoG chief executive. It remained unclear whether the anti-Waiguru forces had submitted the name of the “surprise” candidate by close of business Friday.
The anti-Waiguru camp was said to accuse her of being “too close to with State House” saying this has compromised the Council’s independence and affected its push for timely and adequate disbursement of funds to the devolved units.
“She has failed to assert the independence of the council of governors, she is too close to the presidency and has become a Yes person, that is why counties are suffering, you have seen the late disbursement of funds to the county governments every now and then, she cannot even question when the national government encroaches on some of the devolved functions,” one governor protested.
Those said to be likely to go unchallenged during the polls include the incumbent Chief Whip and Nandi governor Stephen Sang’ Health committee chairperson and Tharaka Nithi governor Muthomi Njuki and the chairperson of the Finance Committee, Kakamega governor Fernandes Barasa.
Barasa had been murmured to be interested in taking on Waiguru but sources intimated that he would instead defend his seat. It was not clear whether the incumbent chairpersons of committees including Kenneth Lusaka (Agriculture), Andrew Mwadime (Water and Forestry), Anyang’ Nyong’o (Lands) and Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Legal, constitutional affairs and Intergovernmental relations) would face any opposition. However, sources revealed that Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga was lining up to challenge Nairobi governor Johnson Sakaja for the leadership of the Human Resource committee.
Other chairpersons of the committees include Machakos governor Wavinya Ndeti (Trade and Industry), Wilbur Otichilo (Environment and Climate Change), Issa Timamy (Blue Economy), Nathif Jama (Arid and Semi-Arid Lands), Wisley Rotich (ICT), Dhadho Godana (Security), Patrick Ole Ntutu (Tourism and Wildlife) and Mbarire (Resource Mobilisation).
Waiguru was elected to the plum position in September last year, succeeding former Embu governor Martin Wambora.
She had been fronted by the Kenya Kwanza coalition that had just won the last general election a month earlier to face off with the then Azimio la Umoja candidate and Kajiado governor Joseph Ole Lenku.
Consensus later carried the day with the governors settling on Waiguru, becoming the first female governor to hold the coveted position.
The previous CoG chairpersons in Kenya’s history include Bomet’s Isaac Ruto (2013-2015), Meru’s Peter Munya (2015-2017), Turkana’s Josphat Nanok (2017-2019), Kakamega’s Wycliffe Oparanya (2019-2021) and Wambora (2021-2022).
The CoG has endured tough times during Waiguru’s tenure, with the governors at one point threatening to shut down operations citing an unprecedented four-month delay in funding from the national government.
Then, Waiguru accused the National Treasury of failing to release Sh94.35 billion owed to the devolved units despite several reminders. According to Waiguru, the national government had failed to disburse a total of Sh31.45 billion to all 47 counties in February, Sh29.6 billion in March and Sh33.3 billion in April, all totalling Sh94.35 billion.
The Kirinyaga county boss lamented that the four-month funding delay had negated the spirit of the governor’s agreement with President William Ruto.