Leadership wars at CoG as Nanok stays put

Council of Governors Chairman Josphat Nanok (right) addresses a press conference in Nairobi alongside Environment PS Charles Sunkuli (centre) and Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru on the upcoming Blue Economy conference to be held in Nairobi in November between 26th-28th in Nairobi. Kenya is seeking to raise Sh800 million as it plans to host its first global conference. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Factional wars have rocked the Council of Governors (CoG) over the impending elections.

Sources told The Standard that some leaders from counties in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (Asals) had ganged up to block Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya from succeeding Turkana county boss Josphat Nanok.

Other leaders said the elections were long overdue and urged the CoG to speed up the process so they could pick new leaders.

Mr Nanok told journalists that all governors had met and agreed that he should stay in office until December. But some governors said the lobby had become moribund under Nanok’s leadership and there was need for new leadership.

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“The Council shall elect a chairperson and a vice chairperson from among its members. The chairperson and vice chairperson of the Council shall serve for a term of one year and shall be eligible for re-election for one further term of one year,” reads the CoG Act.

The chairman’s position is prestigious and comes with all the trappings of power as it influences most of the decisions made in the counties.

The chairman has an official car and helicopter among other privileges.

A governor from the North Rift region, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said an agreement to have Nanok complete his term then allow Mvurya to take over was reached after the charged 2017 General Election.

“We wanted the council to remain united. That is why we agreed that Nanok, who had served for only six months, should be given a chance to complete his term of one year after which Mvurya would take over,” said the governor.

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“This was because of the need for unity due to a charged political environment,” the county boss said, noting the agreement was however not supported by law.

“Nanok has completed his term and elections are now long overdue. We should stick to the law. Mvurya as well as any other interested candidate is at liberty to vie for the position. We hope the council calls a meeting soon so we can deliberate on the issue of electing a chairman.”

Senate speaker

Former Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro said the elections were anchored in law, which should be followed to the letter.

“They should comply with the law. There was a push-and-pull during former governor Isaac Ruto’s time. We needed it to entrench devolved structures properly,” said Mr Ethuro. “County leaders should not aspire for the ‘big man syndrome’ but service to the people.”

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Nanok took over from former Meru governor Peter Munya in May last year and almost lost the seat as he lacked the requisite numbers after the August polls. Munya was appointed Trade and Industrialisation Cabinet secretary after failing to retain his seat in Meru. 

Nanok was however saved by Deputy President William Ruto, who rallied Jubilee Party governors to shelve their plans and allow him to complete his six-month term.

In the arrangement, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru would deputise Nanok and later Mvurya.

While Jubilee was sure of winning all positions during the elections given its numerical strength, consensus was reached after fears a bitter election would have divided the council.

Earlier, there was panic in the Jubilee camp after the surprise entry in the race for chairmanship by Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago.

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Mandera Governor Ali Roba said deferring the elections was meant to regularise the process and comply with the law.

“There is a constitutional interpretation which states that the term of the chair is one year renewable but silent on such agreements. Nanok will finish his term in December and he is eligible to contest again. Any other person who feels they are fit to hold the office can also contest,” said Mr Roba.

“In the Act, the Turkana governor is eligible to run for office as the December polls will be counted as seeking a fresh mandate. It is upon members to decide who to elect in the coming elections,” he added.

“My brother is suited for the job. He is competitive and firm and can do a good job in that position. However, the problem is that the agreement that was reached in not anchored in law.”

Meanwhile, the council is expected to submit an annual report to the Summit, chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta

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President Uhuru KenyattaCouncil of GovernorsFactional warsArid and Semi-Arid LandsKwale Governor Salim MvuryaTurkana countyJosphat NanokNorth RiftEkwee EthuroKirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru