Governor Waititu is no longer ‘Baba Yao’ in Kiambu?

Governor Ferdinand Waititu [Photo: Courtesy]

Reports that Kiambu County Governor Ferdinand Waititu suspended two of his Executive Committee members because of suspicion that they are too close to his deputy James Nyoro marks the lowest point in the fallout between the two county bosses.

It is common knowledge that Governor Waititu and his deputy Nyoro fell out even before the dust had settled on the 2017 elections.

Indeed, their relationship has been characterised by bad blood that only spills over as public spats and has done more harm than good.

The latest victims in the never-ending tug of war are Kiambu Health Executive James Murega and his Trade counterpart Isabela Waiyaki who were suspended by Waititu for allegedly being spotted in the company of the deputy governor.

Nyoro has since confirmed that he indeed met with the two suspended officials, the Health Executive during a funeral of a mutual friend, while Ms Waiyaki recently called him to inform him about a delegation visiting the county from the United States of America.

Governor Waititu has since confirmed that he suspended the two to allow investigations into health crisis in the county health sector. Waiyaki was suspended reportedly for not keeping the Governor informed about the goings-on in the Trade docket.

Not too long ago, Kiambu residents woke up to a bewildering spectacle of butchered pig heads at a local hospital.

A group operating under the aegis of “Operation Ondoa Panya”, Kiswahili for “Remove all the Rodents” later claimed responsibility for the bizarre act whose aim was to demonstrate how dejected residents had become with the state of health services in the county.

Health services such as county health facilities, pharmacies, ambulances, and promotion of primary health care are devolved functions for which county governments get their share of the national budget to deliver.

While Waititu may have felt slighted on the issue of the visiting delegation from Nebraska, preferring that he rather than Nyoro should have been briefed by the Trade CEC, this latest standoff raises a number of fundamental governance issues afflicting the county.

Provisions of Chapter Eleven of the Constitution and the County Government Act are explicit on the objects of devolution and the principles that guide those charged with the management of county affairs.

Why should the governor be in the dark on a matter as serious as a delegation visiting from the US to learn and share experience on agriculture?

When is the last time the Governor convened his Cabinet? The law is clear that the County Executive headed by the Governor, and assisted by the Deputy Governor and County Executive Committee members must meet regularly to manage county affairs effectively. It is at such meetings where Waititu can be briefed about the said visit.

It is at such meetings that he can raise questions with the health executive on the state of things under his docket.

Besides, Section 95 of the County Government Act demands that county governments put in place a county communication framework based on the principles of informed public participation and the right to access to information.

But with Waititu himself in the dark about the affairs of his own government, one can only conclude that he is a victim of his own inefficiency and ignorance.

Most county governors and Waititu seems not an exception, prefer attracting unnecessary attention to themselves rather than placing the people at the centre of devolution.

He is on record swearing never to work with sub-county administrators merely because they were appointed by his predecessor William Kabogo.

His preference to work with the MCAs as implementers of development projects may look attractive and save him from impeachment, but he should be very afraid that he is no longer the popular ‘Baba Yao’.

Suba Churchill is the Presiding Convener of the Civil Society Reference Group.

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