At least 15 professionals who were elected governors with the advent of devolved governments in 2013 have lost their plum jobs to career politicians, offering insights into the voters’ assessment of their performance.
Outgoing Nairobi governor Evans Kidero, a former Mumias Sugar #ticker:MSC chief executive, and Ahmed Abdullahi, ex-Hass Petroleum’s chief financial officer, top the list of governors who lost the political contest in the August 8 elections.
The list also includes former diplomats, administrators and public policy experts.
These professionals had been expected to use their expertise in solving some of the most pressing local problems but their failure to secure second terms suggest that voters had a dim view of their performance or they had a problem adapting to their new careers in politics.
“The governors who have been shown the door failed to master the politics of the job. But most importantly, if within a year you have no flagship project or service delivered, you cannot have the voters on your side,” Cyprian Nyamwamu, the chief executive of the National Convention Executive Council, said adding that most of the professionals had greatly disappointed in terms of service delivery.
There are also those who say the punishment is for their failure to serve the best interest of sponsoring political parties while others feel Kenyans now understand the role of governors better.
Governors, among other things, hire staff and pick priority projects.
Like the career politicians, the professionals have battled claims of nepotism, corruption and misuse of public assets during their term in office.
In Nairobi where a majority of the middle class had in 2013 placed their bet on Mr Kidero to properly manage the capital city’s affairs, the former Mumias CEO had an underwhelming performance, handing the flamboyant and populist Senator Mike Mbuvi Sonko victory at the polls.
Mr Kidero had been expected to inject private sector-style discipline to the management of public affairs but he seems to have been drowned in murky political waters that saw him appear before Senate to answer to questions over debt accumulation and poor service delivery.
Mr Abdullahi, who joined politics straight from the corporate world where he was chief financial officer at Hass Petroleum, lost in Wajir to Mohamed Abdi, the former Kenyan ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Expected to boost revenue collection
In Kisumu, former taxman Jack Ranguma is on his way out after he lost to Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o.
Residents had expected him to use his expertise as former Commissioner of Income Tax at KRA to boost internal revenue collection in the lakeside county.
Mr Ranguma’s term was, however, marked by frequent fights with his deputy, Ruth Odinga, also from the private sector.
“I’m not sure we have worked out the practicalities of devolved operations, including the political aspects of county governance,” said risk management analyst Andrew Franklin.
“The idea that this was an issue-oriented election is also a flawed construction.”
Mr Franklin reckons that the campaign issues raised never reflected what the electorate would be looking for “in the context of counties electoral result”.
Despite strong CV
In Kitui, Julius Malombe was denied a second term by seasoned politician Charity Ngilu despite running on the ticket of the dominant party in the country, Wiper Party.
Dr Malombe came to the top position with a strong CV that includes more than 30 years in senior roles in the national government and as public policy analyst in finance, urban development, infrastructure and devolution.
Former Laikipia West MP Ndiritu Murithi has edged out Joshua Irungu, who became governor after serving a long stint as a community development specialist.
The same fate befell outgoing Nakuru governor Kinuthia Mbugua, ousted by former Nakuru MP Lee Kinyanjui.
Mr Mbugua’s stint as Administration Police Commandant was seen as matching the additional skills required to manage a county that has experienced bloody tribal clashes nearly every electoral cycle.
In the neighbouring Baringo, former Higher Education Loans Board chief executive Benjamin Cheboi is set to hand over to Stanley Kiptis, a former Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) official and Kanu politician, while Cleophas Lagat, who gave up his job as the principal of Eldoret Polytechnic to run Nandi County, lost to Senator Stephen Sang.
Simon Kachapin — the former Ortum Boys Principal — lost the West Pokot governorship to Senator John Lonyangapuo.
Lamu West MP Fahim Yasin Twaha is set to replace Issa Timamy, formerly the chairman of the National Museums of Kenya, as the next Lamu Governor.
In Tharaka Nithi, former hospital administrator Samuel Ragwa has been edged out by Chuka/Igambang’ombe MP Muthomi Njuki while in Tana River, Hussein Dado, former administrator and diplomat, has been replaced by Galole MP Dadho Godana as governor.