Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua is under pressure from county leaders and residents to initiate the impeachment of Governor Charity Ngilu.
Senator Wambua told The Standard there was a consensus that Mrs Ngilu had failed in her mandate.
Speaking at Kivou Ward in Mwingi Central at the weekend, the senator said the governor had been engaging in a war of words with him and the county assembly over budgetary allocation and corruption allegations.
Wambua recently clashed with Ngilu over who should be held accountable for a mysterious fire that razed the county's Finance offices a fortnight ago.
The Senator and Ngilu each claimed the other was responsible and should be investigated and charged with arson. The fire destroyed crucial documents that had been stored at the offices since the inception of devolution in 2013.
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In Mwingi, the Senator said he was awaiting criminal investigation officers’ conclusion of a probe into the fire before he could start a process "to discipline" the governor.
“I have not incriminated her so far, but she has a lot to tell us about the fire,” said Wambua.
His remarks have ignited a political tussle pitting the governor against the assembly over budgetary allocations.
The fight between Ngilu and the MCAs, on one hand, and county MPs and residents on the other, has heightened political temperatures.
The MCAs accuse Ngilu's government of marginalising wards and inequitably distributing county resources.
But the governor has termed the differences between her, Wambua and ward reps as egocentric and warned that the wrangles would hurt the people they represent.
However, the situation got worse when the Minority Leader and Yatta-Kwavonza MCA John Kisangau broke ranks with the Executive and joined forces with his colleagues.
The Standard reached out to leaders, including MPs, professionals, religious groups, women and youth groups to understand why the governor and the leaders could not see eye to eye.
Mwingi West MP Charles Nguna claimed the governor was doing badly.
“We are faring badly. For instance, in Mwingi West, there is no single project from the county government in all the 23 locations, compared to what her predecessor Julius Malombe did,” said Mr Nguna.
His Kitui South counterpart Rachael Nyamai said she stopped engaging or following county matters in order to concentrate on issues affecting her constituency.
Kitui Central's Makali Mulu claimed there was general dissatisfaction by the electorate.
Dr Makali said the general expression of dissatisfaction, despite it not being based on any empirical data, could not be ignored because “where there is smoke there is fire.”
“The governor might need to engage genuine people who could help her develop a remedial strategy. It should be noted that no potential governor candidate would wish to inherit a dysfunctional county, hence the need to positively support genuine initiatives to make our county better,” Makali said.
Mwingi professionals, led by Campbell Munyambu, former Kitui Rural MP Charles Nyamai and a Mwingi contractor Joseph Ngeana said the social status of Kitui residents had drastically dropped during Ngilu’s leadership.
“Kitui residents are not able to foot their daily bills as before. There is a big problem with the current leadership. People feel disillusioned,” Makau Mutua, the director of the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kitui Branch, said.
Mr Nyamai said they warned people against supporting Ngilu in 2017, but they refused. "Kiingane na vaisongwa (let them feel the pinch)," he said.
Kisangau said people's perception on the Executive would make the governor's 2022 bid tricky and a "big challenge."
The MCA, who is Ngilu’s close ally and supporter, said her administration had been caught up in discontent, with the residents demanding that her government listens to their grievances.
In a plenary sitting chaired by Speaker George Ndotto, Kisangau joined his colleagues in unanimously rejecting Sh11.6 billion 2018/19 supplementary budget estimates II, warning the governor that they did not want to be regarded as inferior and insignificant.
The House further said it would be difficult for Ngilu to win a second term unless her administration learns to read the public mood.
During a live TV interview, Majority Leader Peter Kilonzo and Kisangau said there were "no longer fools" in Kitui. They warned that subversion of truth would only lead the county into destruction and acrimony.
They claimed all the governor’s projects had failed or been caught up in legitimacy issues.
They cited Ngilu’s pet projects such as the Ndengu Revolution, Kitui County Textile Centre (Kicotec) and the ballast crusher in Kitui Rural, saying they thought people were duped into supporting the plans.
“The Ndengu Revolution project is the best example. She projected it as a commercial initiative where farmers would rake in billions, but that never happened,” said Kisangau.
He said the governor changed the narrative into food security after the county faced glut and poor market prices.
The Majority Leader further accused the governor of diverting budgetary allocations for Mutitu, Kyuso and Syongila Polytechnics to set up Kicotec without the knowledge or approval of the assembly.
He claimed the textile industry was a private entity owned by a group called Trendy Links.
But Ngilu has said she will not be intimidated by those out to derail her development agenda and called for an end to destructive politics.
But ward reps recently debated the possibility of impeaching the governor. The debate pitted MCAs allied to Kalonzo Musyoka-led Wiper Party against Ngilu’s Narc.
Ngilu sued Speaker George Ndotto, accusing him of delaying release of county funds. The governor is seeking orders to compel Mr Ndotto to release a letter that would allow the National Treasury to disburse funds to Kitui.
The case is still pending in court.
But yesterday, Deputy Governor Wathe Nzau termed those scheming to impeach Ngilu as a "clique of egocentrics" out to grab power from the back door.
Speaking in his office, Dr Nzau accused the critics of being obsessed with finding faults and backstabbing.
He told Senator Wambua and his allies to stop spreading falsehoods and propaganda about the county government’s leadership.
“Why are these people saying there is no meaningful development under Ngilu’s leadership? Are they driven by hate and witch-hunt and envy her development achievements? I urge residents to ignore the naysayers,” said the deputy county boss.
He dismissed as scandalous "disrespectful and unfortunate utterances" against Ngilu, saying they are driven by sworn saboteurs whose aim was to cause destruction and in the county.
“Tell me which of Ngilu’s pet projects the Senator has approved and supported. None! He has kept causing dissent and inciting people against the county government,” the deputy governor said.
He claimed Wambua was working in cahoots with other "retrogressive" leaders to derail Ngilu's development agenda.
Nzau said President Uhuru Kenyatta kept his promise to give the newly-established Kicotec authority to produce official uniforms for chiefs and their assistants.
He said Kitui was rated the fourth in absorption of development funds.