No niceties for second-term county bosses
Noah Cheploen @cheploennoah
The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) has left second-term governors in a dilemma, after their push for regional governments was omitted in the final report unveiled two days ago.
At least 22 governors, who are serving their final term, had pinned their hopes on the BBI initiated constitutional changes, believing, that it was going to open up more lucrative political positions at the centre such as regional governor.
For instance, Governors Ali Joho (Mombasa) and Amason Kingi (Kilifi) publicly lobbied for the creation of regional governments, in a move seen by political pundits as an attempt by the two leaders to secure a soft-landing once their terms end.
The Constitution limits governors, just like the President to two terms, and this is the predicament that the county bosses are facing after the final BBI report unveiled on Wednesday hang them out to dry.
The Yusuf Haji led BBI committee presented the report to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at the Kisii State Lodge. However, the document will officially be unveiled at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi on Monday.
At the BBI sensitisation rally held at the Mama Ngina Waterfront in Mombasa in January, Governor Kingi read a memorandum on behalf of the Coastal leadership, and a proposal for the creation of regional governments featured prominently.
He said the establishment of regional governments would “speed-up” development, particularly in marginalised areas. He added that this would also go a long way in ensuring that more resources trickle down to the grassroots.
A vocal proponent of BBI, Joho is believed to be eyeing the Coastal regional leadership, although he has occasionally hinted at gunning for presidency.
By the fact that BBI gave the issue of a three-tire government a wide berth, Joho and his senior colleagues in the Council of Governors (CoG), are now finding themselves at crossroads, as the clock ticks towards 2022 general election.
Apart from Joho and Kingi, other governors serving their final terms are COG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu), Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia), Martin Wambora (Embu) and Paul Chepkwony (Kericho).
Others are Josephat Nanok (Turkana), Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a), Okoth Obado (Migori), Samuel Tunai (Narok), Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni), James Ongwae (Kisii) and Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet).
It is worth noting that some of these leaders have already charted their next political paths with Mutua having already launched his 2022 presidential bid.
Governor Kibwana and Wa Iria have also declared they are going for the high office.
With a wealth of experience in public service, Oparanya has also declared his interest in the presidency although he is seen as Mr Odinga’s point man in the Western region.
He has been at the forefront pushing for Luhya unity alongside Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa.
“I have heard what you have said, even we in Western Kenya want regional governments,” Oparanya said during the BBI rally in Mombasa.
The three-tier government has been one of Raila’s pet topics but he seems to have recently abandoned it.
Raila had proposed the establishment of 14 regional governments as contained in the Bomas Draft, saying this will make devolution more effective, adding that counties will just be administrative units under this arrangement.
Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s proposal that sought to have term limits for governors scrapped came a cropper.
He argued that it was unfair to limit governors to two terms, saying this was the reason some of them are pushing for another layer of government.
Governor Ojaamong’ has already hinted that he will run for another political seat in 2022 saying he is still strong enough to serve his people.
“I still have two years left as the governor and I will come back to you in 2022 because I know you are going to support me,” he said in August.
Speaking during a fundraiser in aid of St Teresa of Avila Kwangamoru church in Teso South sub-county, Ojaamong’ said he will remain active in politics past 2022.
“Where do you expect me to go with all the political experience that I have? I will come back and talk to you so that we agree on the direction we will take,” said Ojaamong’.
“When my term as governor is over, I can even represent my people in Parliament,” said the governor who served as Amagoro MP for two terms.
Governor Chepkwony is said to be eyeing Kericho senatorial seat while Nanok has also declared that he is going to run for another political seat.
Speaking during Mashujaa Day celebrations at Ekaales Centre in Lodwar three days ago, Nanok dismissed those urging him to retire from politics saying he still has a lot to offer in terms of leadership.
“I want to leave the office of governor on a high note, having given my best for my people, so that they can decide which other seat fits me,” he said, adding: “I will not retire; it is the public to decide.”
Other governors on final stretch are Salim Mvurya (Kwale), Patrick Khaemba (Trans-Nzoia), Cornel Rasanga (Siaya), Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu), John Nyagarama (Nyamira) and Ali Roba (Mandera).