No time for celebrations let governors get to work

Governor-elect Abdulswamad Nassir (centre) celebrates with supporters at Kizingo in Mombasa on August 30, 2022. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Finally, 45 of 47 governors so far elected took the oath of office at the end of last week. Only Kakamega and Mombasa governors are yet to take oath of office.

And with the swearing-in begins the tough job of transforming their counties for the next five years. Both the new governors and incumbents have their jobs cut out for them and there is no time for elaborate celebrations.

A look at the new county bosses brings some measure of hope. Voters elected many young governors and seven women governors. They are taking over at a time more and more Kenyans approve of devolution having seen what it has done for the last ten years. They have seen better roads, schools have been built, hospitals and agriculture improved.

Given what they have seen many want more functions to be devolved.

They will soon realise the enormous task ahead of them. Many, especially those elected for the first time, will have to deal with bloated staff taking much of their revenue. They have to weed out ghost workers on the counties' payrolls.

Others are faced with high number of pending bills that will most likely take up most of their budget and are a threat to their development agenda.

They will have to deal with the persistent allegations of corruption and rein in on corrupt county officials.

The reality might be different from the lofty promises that were common during the campaign period. This is why we insist there is no time to waste on sideshows and populists brand of politics.

They are not the most powerful political actors in the counties. This is why we are shocked that some county bosses have taken the political war on some county staff. A governor has warned some county employees to be ready to go for campaigning against him. Their termination letters, he said, are on the way.

Others were engaged in what would pass off as populists mantras like asking hospitals to release all patients with pending bills. Such rush decisions without sound policy are likely to backfire.

The assumption is that the governors with the help of county assemblies should harness public goodwill and singularly focus on development without seeming to target a section of the society.

It's time for the county bosses to go back to their manifestos and prove to the people that it was not just empty talk. The clock is ticking for whatever they promised to fulfil in their first 100 days.

Citizens must call the leaders to account, whether they voted for them or not. They need to realise that devolution starts with the governor down the line to members of the county assemblies.

They have to put the leaders on their toes for the next five years for them to serve diligently.