Opinion and Analysis
Elect governors who can see unique needs, opportunities
Posted Tuesday, October 16 2012 at 19:05
- All said and done, election of county CEOs is a political process which can be loaded with surprises, and not always in the control of the most well intentioned voter.
- Political euphoria could easily land us with unqualified county CEOs. However, it is for each individual voter to exercise his or her best judgment.
After the presidency, perhaps the next most important elective position will be that of the county governor.
This is because going forward, the county will be a critical unit for socio-economic development. And development brings with it a myriad of opportunities and expectations for all.
Different people will view the counties with different interests. Politicians will see increased political opportunities; businesses anticipate increased economic activities and cash flows; the NGOs see another level of governmental engagement and accountability while the public anticipate more grassroots development.
These expectations can mostly be met if the management of counties is handled with a sober balance by a competent executive. I say “executive” because there should be more execution of developmental tasks than politics in a county, especially in the initial periods.
The prospective governor should be a person capable of easily riding over the initial set-up challenges and immediately get on with the real work of county development. My definition of an effective county CEO is firstly a good administrator of establishments.
One who has strong leadership credentials to manage the delicate interface between the county politicos and the county implementing officers.
The governor should have a strong enough personality to effectively engage upwards with the national government and laterally with developmental agencies (both private and NGOs).
The governor we have in mind should also be a person who will mostly see, emphasise and exploit opportunities in a county and not always dwell on enumeration of challenges.
He/she should sufficiently understand planning and implementation. Financial probity, accountability and preparedness to fully address conflicts of interest should be attributes that should not be in any doubt.
Being the first time the country is experimenting with county governments, many of the initial crops of governors may not necessarily meet most of the above attributes.
Wrong choice of a governor can only be corrected after five years, which can be a long time in a development calendar. Counties that correctly decide to get it right first time will be miles ahead and will be the envy of counties that elect non-delivering governors.
No county in Kenya is without unique opportunities, and of course unique challenges.
How each county exploits its potential opportunities will depend on the quality of leadership elected and hired.
It is this leadership, starting with the governor that will determine the success or failure of a county, or the pace at which a county advances to prosperity.
Counties previously labelled as marginal will probably emerge as the giants of tomorrow if they correctly target their newly identified natural resources. Resourceful governors can quickly turnaround such counties out of marginalisation.