Choose leaders wisely to ensure accountability, business growth

A woman casts her ballot at the Kisumu Sports Grounds polling station on January 17, 2013. A governor will serve as the chief executive officer of his county. Photo/TOM OTIENO
A woman casts her ballot at the Kisumu Sports Grounds polling station on January 17, 2013. A governor will serve as the chief executive officer of his county. Photo/TOM OTIENO  Nation Media Group

Last week witnessed political party nominations in preparation for the March 4 General Election. The exercise elicited feelings of frustration, uncertainty, anger, unrest, and confusion.

I watched TV interviews of aspirants for the governor’s seat and realised that the candidates were as confused and under informed about what the job entails as most Kenyans are.

There is a lot of work yet to be done to get us to where we would like to be come 2030.

I worked as an analyst in the US Department of Finance under a great governor — his name is Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The then California governor — I did not interact with him much — was lovable, full of charisma and had a great sense of humour.

I thought he was elected because of his likeability — the state of California then was keen on voting for someone they liked and who was willing to forfeit his salary and walk Californians through a term of better business practices.

Did he meet the criteria for the position? Yes. Was he qualified for the job? I do not think so.

A governor’s job, especially in a developing country like Kenya, should not be taken lightly. We cannot afford to elect a person because he is merely likeable, neither can we settle on an unqualified candidate.

The government is heavily involved in the economy; programmes that will be indispensable to business operations of the economy will be created, developed and nurtured within the next few years.

The new leaders should have no tolerance for corruption in the public sector and should improve on regulations to ensure healthy business competition and free enterprise.

Essentially, a governor will serve as the chief executive officer of his county. The leader will have ability to veto legislation if it’s not in the interest of his county and will be in charge of the county budget.

He or she should be able to prepare and manage the budget efficiently and effectively while ensuring that funding is available for programmes.

The leader must be able to manage and motivate staff. The people we elect as our governors should be well educated in terms of finance, especially when it comes to preparing budgets and managing them.

Whether they are successful investors or not, they should be able to create, develop, and sustain a credible strategy to stabilise our faltering economy.

Past political leaders fell desperately short of our expectations.

The incoming governors must understand that the difference between corporate CEOs and political ones is minimal.

While corporate CEOs concentrate on creative projects that generate profit for stakeholders, political ones will focus on sustainable projects that will provide efficient services.

Aspirants should use the next few days as an opportunity to flaunt their fiscal prowess and prove to voters that they can be captains of their counties — steering them to business and economic growth.

Their obligations must be clear and they should make sure that all programmes and departments perform.

Ultimately, the governors must exhibit true leadership and business sense.

They should understand the importance of creating a conducive business environment and opportunities for job creation as well as sustainable economic growth.

They must also be trustworthy, have clear and transparent business growth objectives, address our faltering economy the spending deficit, trade policies, suffocating business regulations, high taxes and tax loopholes, outdated education system, and put strong emphasis on human and especially child development.

This must be shared through a transparent, realistic, and achievable strategy clearly defined and adhered to.

The pay off for choosing the right leaders will be in the results.

Ms Munywoki is the Executive MBA programme coordinator, Inoreero University.