The only thing that seems to be happening in the capital city of Nairobi today is the uprooting of the so-called Kidero grass, to apparently replace it with Sonko grass.
The miraculous changes promised by Mike Mbuvi Sonko and his backers as he campaigned to replace Evans Kidero as the governor of the city seem to still be floating in thin air. Heaps of garbage continue to pile in the estates and downtown and roads are in utter disrepair.
And these are just a few of the poor services to the people of Nairobi. In neighbouring Kiambu, much ado has been brewing in the form of a fight against illicit liquor, backed by gubernatorial roadside declarations, threats against individuals and intended takeover of private property.
In the background, roads in the second most populous county after Nairobi have degenerated into cattle tracks, while many residents will quickly say they are yet to feel the current administration in terms of education, health, provision of water among other services.
The assurance of better post-governor William Kabogo achievements especially in agriculture and trade, remain just that – assurances. These two important counties were touted as among the worst run during the term of the inaugural county governments.
In Kiambu, despite having fallen in a hail of accusations that he was, arrogant Kabogo may now appear to many to have walked the talk more compared to the administration of Ferdinand Waititu. And in Nairobi, if Kidero planted the grass, Sonko appears to be watering nothing.
One of the reasons the two governors were elected was the hope placed on their deputies by the electorate. Many doubted the administrative competence of the two would-be governors, owing to questions of their experience and academic grounding, their popularity with the public notwithstanding.
Quickly sidelined But no sooner had Sonko and Waititu taken office than their abrasive style saw their deputies, Polycarp Igathe and James Nyoro respectively sidelined.
Igathe could not take it and quit while Nyoro, a former Rockefeller Foundation and USAID technocrat, is said to be holding out amid frustration. Obviously, the logic could be that the more responsibility and exposure the deputies get, the bigger the chances of their becoming more popular and thus, 2022 threats.
It is not a new treatment for many a deputy governor who are assigned obscure small offices at dark corners, supplied with daily newspapers, a TV set, tea and an official car to ferry them to and from the office.
Following the ruling of the Supreme Court that governors can appoint deputies in the event of the death or resignation of their election running mates, Sonko has resorted to social media asking Nairobians to help him select a suitable candidate.
Among the favourites is former Nairobi City Clerk John Gakuo. If wisdom rules in City Hall, Gakuo should be the candidate to head-hunt without an interview, seeing as he knows the problems of Nairobi, having been in charge of Nairobi in worse times.
In Kiambu the managerial and fund raising skills of Nyoro continue to be wasted in a nondescript backstage office somewhere within the county headquarters, which brings to the fore the urgency of defining the role of deputy governors to give them teeth, security and to avoid conflict with their bosses.
Some of these worthy men and women have had remarkable experiences running reputable local and international organisations, but their skills are wasted by bossy political types. These “principal” assistants to the governors cannot make the decision to buy even a paper clip.
Even when the governors are away from office, the deputies are overshadowed by senior officers acting at the behest of the governor.
The Senate, which oversights counties, should explore the suggestion that the law be changed to make the governor and the deputy appointees based on skills and competence. This will save not only Kiambu and Nairobi but all the 47 regions from rivalry of the bosses. —The writer is a freelance journalist