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‘Youth’ is secret to Makueni’s success

Evelyn Makena @evemake_g

Mentoring youths and giving them a chance to lead is one of the aspects that has set Makueni apart, Governor Kivutha Kibwana has said.

He revealed that he believed that given a chance, youths had innovative ideas and energy to bring transformative change.

Giving the example of one of his ministers that led implementation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), Kivutha said he had deliberately hired young people in senior positions in his county.

“The minister was barely 30 when he started working for the county in 2013, but he was able to achieve so much,” he said during an interview with K24’s Betty Kyalo in Makueni.

He narrated of how he had discovered the great potential youths held while he was serving as an associate professor University of Nairobi between 1977-2002.

“I realised that when you mentor young people they go places,” he said.

Among some of the youths he mentored during his tenure at UoN are Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi, Cabinet Secretary East African Community Peter Munya and Supreme Court Judge Smokin Wanjala.

Utilisation of funds

Kivutha has been lauded for exceptional leadership, putting the county in the spotlight for all the right reasons. Earlier last week, the county was given a clean bill of health by the Auditor General for good utilisation of funds.  He attributed this to strict adherence to proper use of public funds and to leading by example.

“If the governor is straight, it’s not easy for people under him to be crooked. When they know you are strict it discourages theft,” he said.

The county became a trailblazer in implementation of UHC in 2016 enabling residents to access free medical care from any of the county’s hospitals.  In February, the county launched a milk processing plant to support dairy farmers.

The Sh57 million dairy plant with a capacity to pasteurise 1,000 litres of milk per hour was installed by the county government in partnership with International Livestock Research (ILRI) and USAid.  It’s the second plant the governor has opened in Makueni within one year.

During the interview, the governor took his brunch at a mabati structure commonly referred to as ‘kibanda’ eatery in Wote town, a move that stirred excitement among Kenyans online with many terming him as a down-to-earth and leader who is easy to relate with.

Kivutha revealed that he regularly visits the eatery as it gives him a chance to get information and feedback on projects from the citizens.

“Our governor can sometimes buy breakfast for the people and other times people buy for the governor,” said a resident who frequents the eatery.

Oversee work

Earlier on, Kivutha had been at an early morning meeting at the county headquarters before having his meal of brown ugali and fermented milk.

The handlers revealed that he holds meetings with his staff from 7am to plan for the day and creates time to oversee ongoing work on the ground.

In the eatery, where he revealed he loves taking coffee and pancakes for breakfast, Kivutha spoke about his poverty-ridden childhood that has shaped his style of leadership.

The governor addressed increased calls by Kenyans for him to vie for presidency saying that he was open to persuasion.

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