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It's a tall order for governors who don't have troops in the assembly

National
Meru County governor-elect Faith Kawira Mwangaza with her husband Murega Baichu. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Governors are poised to be sworn into office immediately after the gazettement of their victory as residents wait for them to fulfil campaign promises.

But for voters in areas where ward representatives do not belong to the same party as the county chiefs, it will be a matter of applying a wait-and-watch approach.

One scenario is where parties with majority ward reps will take control of the assemblies. Where this has happened in the past, it has almost brought the county governments to their knees.

In Nairobi, residents expect governor-elect Johnson Sakaja to focus on pressing issues that have hobbled the capital city. This even as he looks for ways to woo Members of the County Assembly from the Azimio La Umoja-One Kenya Coalition party, who will be the majority in the House, to his side.

How the County Assembly and Executive interact will determine whether issues like crumbling infrastructure and spotty water supply will be resolved.

Nairobi governor-elect Johnson Sakaja. [Samson Wire, Standard]

In Meru, governor-elect Kawira Mwangaza has her work cut out to deal with numerous issues affecting the expansive nine-constituency county.

Ms Mwangaza, who trounced Governor Kiraitu Murungi on an independent ticket, will have to work with 45 MCAs who owe their allegiances to the different parties that put them in office.

In the devolved region, both the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and Devolution Empowerment Party have 13 MCAs each. This scenario will undoubtedly see both parties try to flex their numerical strength in a bid to control the assembly, especially when passing Bills.

Residents will expect Mwangaza to offer solutions on the poor state of roads, lack of food in the drier areas, and poor health services. The county staff, too, have numerous grievances.

But Abothoguchi MCA Patrick Muthuri, who was re-elected on an independent ticket, said he will expect fellow MCAs to give the governor whatever support she might need.

“The election is over and it is now time to work for the people. What we need now is development, and I think she is going to get a lot of support from MCAs who know what they are doing,” said Mr Muthuri.

Kenya National Union of Nurses-Meru Secretary Nesbitt Mugendi said they would engage Ms Mwangaza to ensure a long-standing salary dispute is settled, and staff are promoted.

In Nakuru, governor-elect Susan Kihika’s first order of business will be the completion of various projects left behind by Governor Lee Kinyanjui.

Nakuru governor-elect Susan Kihika. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Mr Kinyanjui had initiated several multi-million shilling health facilities across the 11 sub-counties that are at different stages of construction.

“Once elected, I shall ensure the hospitals are properly staffed and those on contract are placed on permanent and pensionable basis. We shall have enough medicine for all,” said Ms Kihika, who is also the outgoing senator.

Stakeholders in the transport sector are also optimistic that Kihika’s administration will bring them back to the town center after Kinyanjui kicked them out three years ago.

Nakuru has an average annual budget of Sh18 billion and a wage bill that currently stands at Sh6 billion. In the last three years, the senator criticised Kinyanjui for posting budget rollovers amounting to billions of shillings at the end of each fiscal year.

“Kihika will have a smooth time in office. She has numbers in the county assembly and the support of a senator and most MPs from her party,” said Andrew Nyabuto, a political commentator.

Bishop Mike Brawan of Metro Church urged Kihika to develop a close working relationship with MCAs. “We are hopeful that she will jointly work with the ward reps to avoid fights that may stop her from implementing projects. She should avoid wrangles at all costs to match and supersede the record set by Kinyanjui,” he said.

In Kisumu, Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, who enjoyed a cordial working relationship with the former MCAs, will be hoping for the same amiability with the new representatives.

Prof Nyong’o will be assured of support from Seth Kodaga (Market Milimani Ward) and Joachim Oketch (Kondele Ward) who were re-elected.

With the majority of MCAs elected through ODM, the governor could use party machinery to whip any dissenters back into line like happened in the last assembly when the Executive flexed its muscles to push through crucial legislation.

Residents had accused the ward reps of ignoring their oversight roles, and instead turning into praise singers for the Executive.

Kisumu Governor Peter Anyang' Nyong'o. [Michael Mute, Standard]

In Uasin Gishu, incoming governor Jonathan Bii said he has elaborate plans to ensure service delivery is enhanced, as he succeeds Jackson Mandago who has been at the helm for the last 10 years.

Public expectation is high despite hiccups like delayed or minimal disbursement of funds from the National Treasury.

Mr Bii will enjoy majority support given his UDA Party has 26 members. There are also two affiliates of Azimio through the Jubilee Party and two independent, for a total of 30.

Simba Arati (Kisii) and his Nyamira counterpart Amos Nyaribo will have to unite MCA and MPs from the region if they are to pursue joint development projects.

Mr Nyaribo, who has been in office for 18 months, will have to resolve human resource issues after a series of court battles that pitted him against county staff who were demoted after took he took over office in 2021.

In his victory speech, Nyaribo said, “It is now official that there is leadership and we call upon our brothers who were facing us in this tough contest to come and join us in making Nyamira a better place.”

Mr Arati, who was elected on an ODM ticket, will enjoy the support of most MCAs after 12 party members were elected to the county assembly.

Marani MCA Denis Ombachi, who was re-elected for a third term, said he was looking forward to working in an environment devoid of wrangles and personal differences.

Governor-elect Simba Arati. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

“We have one interest at the assembly; legislation. Unfortunately, members sometimes go out of their way to engage in unnecessary matters that have in the past derailed our development agenda. We need to set our goals straight. It is the common mwananchi that we ought to serve and not individual interests.”

In Machakos, governor-elect Wavinya Ndeti faces the arduous task of kick-starting service delivery in key devolved sectors, which had slowed down towards the end of Alfred Mutua’s tenure.

Out of the 40 wards, Wiper and Maendeleo Chap Chap parties, which are partners following Dr Mutua’s endorsement of Wavinya, got 16 and 12 elective seats, respectively. This means the parties will easily secure the majority vote in the county assembly to pass motions.

“Wavinya’s government is likely to enjoy a cordial working relationship with the county assembly going by the numbers we have seen of the elected MCAs and their parties. There is no longer bad blood between Maendeleo Chap Chap and Wiper, the predominant party,” said Joram Muema, a Kangundo resident.

Deputy Governor-elect Francis Mwangangi said they were committed to working with all ward representatives. Makueni has also garnered majority MCAs, a welcome respite from the times Governor Kivutha Kibwana was unable to control county assembly business thus affecting service delivery to the people.

“We got 14 MCAs under Wiper Party, which means we will be majority, while Muungano Party got eight with other parties getting the rest,” said Francis Mutuku, former assembly majority leader who has bounced back to represent Kilili/Kalamba Ward.

This is said to be a plus for Mutula Kilonzo Jr whose in-tray is full of issues such as a ballooning wage bill and a hungry populace affected by the ongoing drought in the area.