Former Tharaka Nithi governor Samuel Ragwa explains why residents mistook him for a corrupt leader He also speaks on the reason governors require heavy security, life without the trappings of power and why no governor can win a presidential election

Why do you think you lost the election?

People didn’t understand devolution. They thought devolution was coming to solve all their problems. But the money was little, so most people thought I was doing nothing.

Your successor suspended 1,061 workers when he assumed office. Was this fair?

This was very unfair. Most county government employees were employed long before devolution. The worst thing is that Governor Muthomi Njuki hired new employees after sacking workers. It means he just wanted to create posts for the people who voted for him.

But his view is that the wage bill was too high, and that there were ghost workers...

The wage bill was not too high as he puts it. The wage bill was Sh6 million per month, so it is clear that he exaggerated figures to make it look like it was too high.

What’s the story about the county generator found on your premises? Was it stolen?

I borrowed two faulty generators from a company we had out-sourced to train our personnel on financial and managerial matters. After repairing them, I took one to my hotel where some county officials and I worked whenever there was power outage.

The training process also took place inside the hotel since it was located near our headquarters. When power stabilised, I asked the owners to come for it but when they arrived at the place, they made it look as if they were recovering property from a thief.

The anti-corruption agency raided your homes recently. Why?

It is a witch-hunt. When the government started recruiting people for various posts, some people thought I would be interested and that I stood a chance of being appointed to a government post.

So, my enemies wanted to paint me black by sending the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) officials to hunt me down to make it appear as if I’m somebody with a lot of dirty money.

That’s a plan I know was hatched somewhere in Sagana ahead of the raid, but I was easy with the EACC officials. In fact, I took them to all my homes and showed them all my properties.

You are on record asking governor Njuki to stop auditing your administration and focus on the future...

Yes. The agenda which Muthomi Njuki had during campaigns was to improve the lives of Tharaka Nithi people within a short period of time.

What pains me is the manner in which he always talks ill of me in public instead of focusing on his promises. That’s why I wanted him to keep off my administration and focus on his agenda.

Were you corrupt?       

I was not corrupt. People don’t understand how devolution works. Devolution is not a one-day event, it’s a process.

When we got into office, being the first governments, we depended on the Transition Authority to direct us because we had no previous experience. In this process, some actions called for audit queries, a situation which was not intentional.

We had a lot of trial-and-error encounters. I think the queries made some people think that I was corrupt. Also, people expected those employed in the county not to advance, such that when you bought a car during your tenure, you were branded a thief.

But Kenyans believe you presided over a den of thieves...

Like I said before, people didn’t understand how devolution works. If the system indicates you’ll receive some money for a project and the money delays, they will assume you stole the money.

So when you are seen buying lunch, people say you’ve stolen from the county. Any time auditors checked on something, people assumed there was theft.

 Former Tharaka Nithi governor Samuel Ragwa

Do your current assets reflect the pay you earned as governor?

No. In fact, I’m now poorer than before. People should ask how much money I had before I joined politics. I had lots of assets. In five years, I only built a small hotel and a house.

Why didn’t you hand over or attend your successor’s inauguration?

First of all, I was not included in the Assumption of Office Committee. I was also not invited to the inauguration ceremony.

But I don’t regret my action because the event was full of insults directed at my regime. In any case, I was not in the country on that day, I was with my sick wife in India.

Did you change the fortunes of your people as governor?

I changed the fortunes of my people a lot. For example, when I assumed office, Tharaka Nithi had only 32 health facilities. I managed to double the number by the time I was leaving.

We had only one operational theatre in the county, but we opened two more. Statistics also show that mortality rate has greatly gone down in Tharaka Nithi. So, I’m confident that I improved people’s lives.

How is life like without the trappings of office?

Life outside is better. I feel more relaxed. I spend more time with my family and engage in farming. I’m a happy man.

Why does a governor require heavy security?

A governor requires heavy security because there are so many enemies and people who think that the governor has a lot of money. There are so many people who want tenders and who get annoyed when they miss out.

It was assumed that at least one governor would run for president in 2022. Do you see this happening?

No governor stands a chance of winning the presidency.

Your former deputy was faulted for walking around with lots of cash, Sh3.4m was even stolen from his house...

It is unfair to accuse somebody for carrying or keeping cash. You know there are limited banks in this county and keeping money at home is not unusual.

You never know, maybe he wanted to buy something which required cash. I don’t see that as a crime.

How do you interact with residents now that you are no longer in power?

I’m a man of the people. As a Christian, I go to church every Sunday and interact with my people frequently.

There are many functions which I also attend, including family gatherings and visiting the needy. I don’t shy away from my constituents.

What are your future plans? Will you seek formal employment?

I’m now a farmer and comfortable with that. I want to take care of my three kids (two sons and a daughter) and my wife.