The standoff in Kitui County pitting Governor Charity Ngilu and the County Assembly seems to have snowballed into a full blown war, sucking in other leaders and turning into an endless blame game.
When she assumed office as the second Kitui governor, Ngilu enjoyed a small lull before things went awry, with MCAs being her main thorn in the flesh. When they are not accusing her of failure to account for development projects and marginalisation of regions, the ward representatives are either shooting down the executive’s budgets or rejecting her appointees.
The latest casualties were two nominees for chief officer’s posts who were rejected by the assembly on account of a bloated workforce.
However, the governor, a seasoned politician in her own right, seems unmoved by the seeming unrest in the county, describing the atmosphere as a political scheme by her detractors to slow her down.
Mrs Ngilu, who controls a small majority in the assembly through her Narc party, has accused the majority Wiper party of orchestrating a smear campaign to paint her administration black.
However, the entry of Yatta/Kwa Vonza Ward MCA John Kisangau who is elected on Ngilu’s Narc party to the circle of her harshest critics seems to have tilted this narrative.
Mr Kisangau resigned as Narc’s minority leader in the assembly last month, saying he was tired of living a lie and that the governor was not committed to implementing her manifesto. He also said it had become increasingly difficult to defend the executive in the assembly. He has since been replaced with Miambani ward MCA Alex Nganga.
“The governor has totally failed in planning. We have a very good County Integrated Development Plan but with zero activity towards achieving the desired results,” Kisangau told Sunday Standard.
Mr Kisangau said Ngilu had failed to deliver on her water and healthcare pledges.
But to give credit to the governor, Kisangau said Ngilu did some remarkable work in 2017-18 financial year, but lamented that there was little to show for 2018-19.
He added that the standoff in the county was the governor’s own creation because “she wants to run the county alone.”
The current minority leader Alex Nganga however has pledged to embrace a more consultative approach in resolving the stalemate.
Nganga claimed there were senior officers in Ngilu’sadministration working towards her downfall. He urged the governor to sack them before it is too late.
“They should know there is a new Sherriff in Narc party and we will deal with them. If I find that you are not toeing the governor’s line you will go home,” Nganga announced last week.
James Mutio, the secretary general of the Ngilu led Narc party, has appealed to MCAs and residents not to judge the governor’s performance this early, saying she still has time to prove herself.
“The governor has been in office for only two years, let us give her time,” said Mutio.
But there is a strong feeling from sections of Kitui leadership that she has so far failed as governor.
Senator Enoch Wambua said the governor has failed in sticking to procedures and processes in running county affairs. This, the senator said, has exposed some of her projects such as Kitui County Textile Centre (Kicotec) to audit queries.
The factory attracted the ire of the county assembly which dismissed it as an illegal entity that had been established without MCAs’ approval and public participation.
But to Ngilu’s credit, the factory has attracted the attention of the national government that gave it a tender to produce uniforms for chiefs and their assistants across the country.
Last month, it released its first batch of 2,800 uniforms, with Ngilu terming it as a game changer that will boost the local manufacturing economy and bolster the county revenue base.
Meanwhile, Senator Wambua accused Ngilu of despising other elected leaders and thriving on populist pronouncements to score political points.
“I will be firm in standing for what I believe to be in the best interest for the people of Kitui. That is why they elected me as their senator and I will never play politics with issues affecting their lives,” Wambua said.
Majority leader of the Wiper party Peter Kilonzo denied that the party’s MCAs were sabotaging the governor, stating that some of Ngilu’s projects and actions were against the law.
Ngilu has warned her critics not to expect ‘brick and mortar’ development, saying that her key agenda was wealth creation and empowering the locals to create wealth on their own.
Some of the projects geared towards this revolve around sponsoring training of locals such as over 300 artisanal miners who were trained at South Eastern Kenya University and an equal number of youths trained on garment making and currently employed at Kicotec.
Others are training for bee keepers to add value to honey, an initiative being driven by Dr Temi Mutia, the value chain specialist in the office of the governor among other initiatives.
Another initiative in this line dubbed Ndengu Revolution in which the governor vigorously campaigned for green grams farming came a cropper last year after the county was enveloped in a ndengu glut with no market to take the produce.
The governor had assured farmers of a market in India, promising that a kilo would go for Sh100. But when the Indian government locked out its market due to over production by Indian farmers, Kitui farmers were left disillusioned with the prices dropping to a low of Sh20 per kilo.
And with the heat still rising in the county, some within the governor’s circle have asked Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka to whip his MCAs so as to give the governor time to work.
But speaking in Mwingi recently, Kalonzo who acknowledged being aware of the squabbles advised the two arms of the county government to sort out their differences, and refused to get involved.
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