Kimemia’s nocturnal tendencies: Governor makes major announcements, holds Cabinet meetings at night

Monday, August 31st, 2020 00:00 |
Governor Francis Kimemia. Photo/File

David Macharia

Imagine going to bed gainfully employed and contented only to wake up to find you were laid off  at night.

That is what is likely to befall you if you worked for the Nyandarua county government where the governor is known for his unusual, some say ungodly, working hours. 

Governor Francis Kimemia cuts the image of a 5am-5pm, early-to-bed and early-to-rise worker. But for Kimemia, first appearances can be deceiving.

While his counterparts and most public officials are sound asleep or engaging in various after-work recreational activities, chances are that he is holding a Cabinet meeting or firing off a press statement, announcing changes in his administration, to media.

 Kimemia’s nocturnal tendencies are the subject of light-hearted banter in the county, with one joke being that if you want the governor to give you full attention, meet him in office at night. 

It is not a joke. Nyandarua county offices are almost becoming a 24-hour service centres, with people sitting in the waiting area up to 9pm, thanks to the governor’s unconventional working hours. 

Last Wednesday, Kimemia sent a press release at midnight to announce second Executive changes since taking over leadership of  the county. For those affected by the changes, it either meant a very long night or a night of glad tidings.

Delivers results

Yesterday, Kimemia defended his unusual working style, saying it was to the benefit of the Nyandarua electorate.

“If you do not work, how do you generate revenue? People have become indolent. Constantly looking at the watch.

In Nyandarua, we do not look at the watch, we work day and night,” he said.

The former provincial administrator says: “When I was head of the Public Service, I would work up to 3am. I would go home only to change and go back to work.

We must strive to bring up a generation that will not look at the watch. If my people in Nyandarua woke up at midnight to vote for me, why should I not match their energy,?” he paused.

He says he does not work to claim overtime, but to  deliver results. 

“There are opportunities at night and during the day. There is life during the day and at night. That has been my philosophy in life,” he says.

  Soon after he took over county leadership in March 2018, it became apparent to senior county officials that Kimemia’s style was different from his predecessor’s.

 While employees at the county headquarters in Ol Kalou Town were accustomed to the 8am to 5pm workday, arrival of a new sheriff in town shook things up quite unexpectedly. 

Officials realised that with the incoming governor, holding meetings that can run late into the night was the norm rather than the exception.

Working style

 A former senior official who did not want to be identified said most of them were not comfortable with the late night meetings.

 “But we did not have a choice so we decided to persevere,” the official said. 

A section of residents  has also found the governor’s habit of reporting to office in the early evening and working long into the night intriguing. 

Some residents took to social media to criticise or ridicule the governor’s nocturnal tendencies. 

Initially, there were rumours Kimemia was spending the night in the office digging up skeletons buried by his predecessor to compile a dossier that would expose misdeeds.

But it soon became apparent that working at night was his modus operandi.  Kariuki Mbataru, a former executive, said Kimemia acquired his working style from his long stint in the national government, where he rose from a mere District Officer to become head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet.

 “What Kimemia did was copy what is done in the Cabinet at the national level,” Mbataru said.

 Kimemia is passionate about service delivery and he emphasised it when he presided over the swearing-in of new chief officers recently. 

“We must be results-oriented. I do not expect any member of my staff to go home and leave behind an unattended client or urgent paperwork,” he said.

Negative activities

 In 2013, Kimemia used his passion for working at night when he gazetted the appointment of Francis Ndegwa Muhoro as Director of Criminal Investigations to beat opposition from then Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Independent Policing and Oversight Authority and Amnesty International.

 By day break, Muhoro had been confirmed for another six-year term in office, thanks to Kimemia’s nocturnal tendencies. 

Night is normally associated with negative activities. A night owl he may be, but one can hardly accuse Kimemia of engaging in shadowy business.

A staunch Catholic – he can easily pass for a priest – the governor never misses early mass, always holds his rosary close and recites it three times a day.

 There is also a musical side of him – he plays the piano like a professional. It is not unusual to find him playing the instrument at a Five-Star Hotel in Nairobi, his favourite hang-out joint.  

 Sartorially, perhaps Kimemia’s only indulgence is a wide-brimmed sombrero, that is a throwback to the days of Mwai Kibaki’s Democratic Party and its supporters.

 Among Kimemia’s achievements, is that he holds the record of having been one of the heaviest babies at birth — all of 9 kilos! Beat that, even if you work all night.

More on News