Fresh chapter as Governors take office

By Caroline Rwenji

Kenya: With the swearing in of the 47 County Governors, Kenyans hope the change in governance structure will transform into the improvement of their lives.

Yesterday the Governors-elect were inaugurated into office in ceremonies that showcased trappings of power. For instance in Bungoma, police outriders escorted the new Governor Ken Lusaka, who was chauffered in a Mercedes Benz complete with a Government flag to the historic Masinde Muliro Stadium.

Kenyans now know what to expect from their leaders in each region with the release of the mandates and procedures of the county governments.

Among the issues mostly raised by Kenyans over time is land grabbing, which has led to lack of land to put up schools, hospitals and other amenities required.

However, the terms of reference for audit of assets and liabilities in all the counties has been developed and is now awaiting funding of up to Sh5 billion.

According to Transition Authority Chairman Kinuthia Wamwangi, a regulation for the management and transfer of assets has been put in place with a ban on the transfer of assets to protect public assets from illegal transfer.

PriceWaterHouse Coopers have been contracted to develop a policy on the management of assets and liabilities in the counties.

Apart of being accountable for the management and use of resources in the counties, governors will be the county’s spokesperson and chief executive officers.

They are mandated with promoting and facilitating the participation of citizens in the development of policies, plans and delivery of services in the county.

Mr Wamwangi admits that being a new system, the responsibilities of the governors will be tasking and will require expertise.

The county governments take over the functions of the now defunct local authorities, some of which were already in debt.

According to the guidebook on the mandates and procedures of the county governments in Kenya, the governor is also expected to promote democracy, good governance, unity and cohesion within the county.

It is also their responsibility to promote competition and ensure their counties are the preferred destination for investments, tourism and other economic activities.

However, a governor who is found guilty of gross violation of the Constitution and other laws will be removed from office. Abuse of office, gross misconduct, committing crime under national or international law will also cost one their position.

A governor found to be physically and mentally incapable of performing their functions would also be replaced.

After swearing in, the county heads are expected to constitute an 11-member executive committee to operationalise the devolved governments, with the approval of the county assembly.

Among the governors sworn in yesterday were Kiambu Governor William Kabogo and his deputy Gerald Gakuha. The two were sworn in by Justice Nzioki wa Makau assisted by Limuru Magistrate Godfrey Oduor.

Justice Msagha Mbogholi swore in Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero and his deputy Jonathan Mueke.

In Kisumu, Jackton Ranguma was sworn in as the County Governor amidst tight security. People attending the ceremony were frisked to ensure they did not pose a security threat.

High Court Judge Hillary Chemitei swore him in.

And in Nyeri, Nderitu Gachagua was sworn in at a ceremony attended by church leaders. The ceremony was graced by among others, Mwangi Kiunjuri, who failed to clinch the Laikipia Gubernatorial position.

In Siaya County, Mr Cornel Rasanga Amoth took an oath to serve his people diligently together with his deputy Governor Ouma Onyango.

The event was officiated over by High Court Judge Aggrey Muchelule, who was assisted by the acting Chief Magistrate Rachel Ng’etich.

Many attended the event, among them all elected ward representatives and the Anglican Church of Kenya diocesan bishops of Maseno West and Bondo.

Laikipia Governor Joshua Irungu Wakahora and his deputy Josephat Gitonga Kabugi were also sworn in at an event held at Nanyuki Municipal Stadium.

Applauses punctuated the event as Justice Roselyn Korir and Nanyuki Chief Magistrate Jesse Nyaga officiated the ceremony.

“I want to assure Laikipia residents that I will fulfil all the pledges that I made. I am appealing for your cooperation in this development-based journey,” he said in his inaugural speech.