Governor Simba Arati picks Elijah Obebo to replace Robert Monda

Kisii Governor Simba Arati interacts with traders at Daraja Mbili Market after making an impromptu visit to the market. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Kisii Governor Simba Arati has presented the name of County Public Service Board Chair Elijah Obebo as the possible replacement for the impeached Deputy Governor Robert Monda.

County Assembly Speaker Philip Nyanumba said he received the name of the nominee during Wednesday’s Assembly sitting.

“I am pleased to receive a communication from the Governor on the submission of a nominee for vetting of the possible Deputy Governor,” he said.

Obebo is set to resign as board chairperson, a position he has held since November 16, 2023. He is a career civil servant who served in various ministries as senior procurement officer.

Just like Dr Monda, Obebo also comes from the large Nyaribari clan.

The former deputy governor was impeached on Thursday last week on grounds of bribery, abuse of office, violation of the Constitution, and crime against the law.

On Tuesday, Monda moved to the High Court seeking to overturn his ouster.

He filed a case at the Kisii High Court on a certificate of urgency against the Senate, the Speaker of the Senate, and two others.

High Court Judge Justice Teresa Odera set the hearing date for March 26, 2024. 

Legal experts argue that the county is likely to remain without a substantive Deputy Governor until the Independent and Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is reconstituted.

Advocate Gideon Nyambati says that once the IEBC clears the nominee and gives him/her a certificate, the commission will move to gazette the name as a nominee for the position of Deputy Governor.

“After handing over the letter to the County Assembly Clerk for eventual tabling at the Assembly, MCAs will have 60 days to debate and approve the nominee.”

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 issued guidance on how to fill the deputy governor vacancy.

The judges ruled that governors would 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 Supreme Court’s ruling was made after Polycarp Igathe resigned as former Governor Mike Sonko’s deputy. Later Sonko refused to name a new deputy leading to the filling of a petition before the Supreme Court.