Though he spoke in a soft tone, Nyeri Governor Wahome Gakuru (left) who passed on Tuesday was authoritative.
Every time he took the microphone to address his constituents, he would introduce himself in the local dialect, “Ni nii Governor wanyu Dagitari Wahome wa Gakuru” (It’s me your governor Dr Wahome Gakuru).
At his swearing-in, he discouraged leaders and locals from calling him “His excellency,” saying he was not worthy of the title until he had achieved his vision for Nyeri County.
“Do not refer to me as his excellency until I have fulfilled my promises. Once I have made your lives better you can call me that,” he said.
After the reign of the late Nderitu Gachagua, who embodied a more aggressive style, Dr Gakuru promised a different kind of leadership.
And he did— mostly projecting an image of a soft-spoken, but resilient man.
A day before his death, he had spent the morning with one of his three sons, who is a KCSE candidate at Alliance High School.
The PhD holder joined active politics in 2013 when he vied for the governor seat, but lost to the late Gachagua.
Mr Gachagua lost his battle for life to pancreatic cancer on February 24 at a London hospital.
Dr Gakuru, who at the time ran on The National Alliance Party ticket, got 126,776 votes against Mr Gachagua’s 137,469 votes. Five years later, the economist facing two opponents was the man to beat in the August 8 General Election.
He garnered 242,000 votes against his rivals— former deputy governor Samuel Wamathai and Democratic Party candidate Patrick Munene— who garnered 76,055 and 17,008 votes respectively.
Dr Gakuru had promised to develop Nyeri at a faster pace following years of slow development.
Nyeri’s development has been on the decline since 2014, as per reports by the Controller of Budget.
According to the reports, Nyeri ranked among the bottom five in the last three consecutive financial years in terms of money spent on development.
“We are tired of lagging behind and we need to move on,” he told the Nation in an earlier interview.
“I promise to turn things around by constituting a new Cabinet with competent and honest executives.”
He had promised to run a transparent and accountable government. “Transparency and accountability are key pillars of our national and public service values and principles. We will institutionalise accountability structures throughout the entire county public service,” he said.
He reassured residents that he would revive the health sector, which he described as “rotten”.
“The county is currently in the intensive care unit trailing in development. We will fix it.” But the crash at Kabati Tuesday morning robbed him of a chance to fix it.
His deputy, Mutahi Kahiga, will take over as substantive governor of the county for the remaining term, as per the Constitution. According to Peter Wanyama, an advocate and legal advisor to the Council of Governors, there will be no need for a by-election in Nyeri.
The deputy governor will, however, be required to appoint a fresh team of county executives.