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I do not count my women or my children- Former Nairobi Town Clerk and governor aspirant Philip Kisia

Sunday Magazine
 I wonder if he will be the fixer Nairobi so desperately needs. Time will tell Photo: Courtesy

The race for the Nairobi gubernatorial seat is heating up and one Philip Kisia is the latest entrant.

When a little birdie whispered in my ear that the former Town Clerk wanted to share his decorated CV with Nairobians and ask them for a chance to govern, I sought him out.

Thanks to Nairobi traffic, I was one and a half hours late and sure that he would tire of waiting, but he sat patiently in Westland's sipping on a cappuccino until I arrived. When I got there these were his first words:

"Traffic in Nairobi is a nightmare, perhaps that's where I should start?"

For a man who served the now-defunct Nairobi City Council for three years Kisia is unbelievably calm.

He tells me that many people have him misunderstood because they think he is arrogant, impatient and too strict, traits that could put a dent in his ambition to be Nairobi's next CEO.

I ask him why he wants to battle it out with a healthy field of Jubilee aspirants for Nairobi's top seat.

"I am a transformational leader and I believe in systems. I had solutions for the problems that are strangling Nairobi right now but unfortunately those seated at the helm of its leadership are not implementing them," he says. When I ask him to expound, he has this to say: "I talked about traffic; see how long it took you to get from Mombasa Road to Westland's? The public transport system needs to be fixed yesterday so that there is a public line dedicated to high-capacity PSVs as well as ambulances."

Kisia is nostalgic about his tenure as Town Clerk. Depending on whom you ask, he is credited with tackling cartels and eliminating corruption. While he was Town Clerk, the now-defunct Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority (KACC - predecessor to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission) acknowledged his efforts and listed him among the top five public servants who were collaborating with KACA to eliminate corruption.

However, his efforts to strengthen the council's audit department stalled upon his departure. He hopes to reintroduce the same if he becomes governor.

"See, Kenyans adore and worship corrupt leaders. When you are not corrupt everyone thinks you are the problem; it beats logic," he says, shaking his head.

Born and brought up by a single mother, Kisia understands only too well the need for values and discipline. "My mother instilled in me values that I still live by; she always encouraged honesty, loyalty and faithfulness. These have been my currency both in the public and private sectors. I dare anyone to contradict me and find any blemish on my character," he says.

Kisia insists that he is the best bet to bring back sanity in the city because when he served as Town Clerk he gained a good understanding of how Nairobi works. "I am the founder and commissioner of the county's ICT strategy but I am disappointed at how Jambopay has been implemented. My idea was to completely eliminate human contact to ensure that as a customer you are simply served."

The former Town Clerk recalls almost being lynched by a hired mob because he wanted to demolish a building in spite of a court order directing him to leave it standing. He was to be vindicated later when the said building collapsed killing and injuring several tenants.

"The problem with Nairobi City County is its systems. If there was a clear framework and everyone knew how they fitted into it, we would have a very efficient county," he says.

While careful not to let the cat out of the bag, the former town clerk is almost sure that his job will be easy because he already knows exactly where the problems are and how to fix them.

Kisia will run on a Jubilee ticket and will have to distinguish himself from the crowd of other Jubilee Party aspirants. "I believe we know in Jubilee who can bring in the votes and which combination will carry the day," he says with confidence, but at the same time refusing to reveal the name of his running mate. "It is much too early to let that out but it will be the winning ticket."

As I am left pondering just who will join forces with Kisia, he answers a phone call about an event he must attend to support his youngest child. He has been cagey about his family life. "I do not count my children, or my women, I just make sure they are well taken care of," says the man who, officially, has two wives. I take that as my cue to leave as I wonder if he will be the fixer Nairobi so desperately needs. Time will tell.

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