How a deputy governor is replaced

Unsuccessful 2022 Nairobi governor candidate Polycarp Igathe. In 2018 he resigned as Dep[uty Governor after differences with Governor Mike Sonko who did not name a replacement. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Baringo Deputy Governor Charles Kipng’ok collapsed and died on Wednesday, September 14 at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport while boarding a plane to Mombasa.

This is the second time a count has found itself without a deputy governor.

Kipngok died barely three weeks after he was sworn to office alongside his boss Governor Benjamin Cheboi, bringing to the fore the once-thorny matter of how a deputy governor is replaced.

In 2018, Polycarp Igathe resigned as Nairobi’s deputy governor, citing differences with his boss Mike Sonko.

Sonko ran Kenya’s capital by himself up until he handed over some functions to the Nairobi Metropolitan Services.

When Anne Kananu was sworn in to replace Sonko on November 16, 2021, she also did not name a deputy.

How are deputy governors replaced?

The constitution says that each candidate for election as county governor must nominate a deputy governor candidate.

It also directs that “The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission shall not conduct a separate election for the deputy governor but shall declare the candidate nominated by the person who is elected county governor to have been elected as the deputy governor.”

Just like the county bosses, deputy county governors are not allowed to hold office for more than two terms.

The Constitution provided guidance on how to replace a governor but there were no clear guidelines set for the replacement of the deputy governor.

What the law now says on filling a vacant position of deputy governor

In 2018, the President of the Supreme Court Chief Justice David Maraga, his then deputy Philomena Mwilu, Justices Mohamed Ibrahim, Jackton Ojwang’, Njoki Ndung’u, Smokin Wanjala and Isaac Lenaola declared that the vacant position cannot be filled through another election.

They also held that there cannot be a vacuum in the office of Deputy Governor until the next General Election is held.

The Supreme Court then issued guidance on how to fill the deputy governor vacancy.

The judges ruled that governors will be allowed to do fresh nominations within 14 days to replace their deputies who resign, die in office or are impeached. The nominees will then have to be approved by County Assemblies within 60 days.

Successful appointees then take oath

The judges ruled that where a vacancy occurs in both offices of the governor and deputy governor and at the same time, the deputy’s office ought to remain vacant until the election of a new governor.

The ruling was made after Igathe’s resignation and Mike Sonko’s refusal to name a new deputy was challenged in court.