Kwale Deputy Governor Fatuma Achani is a household name not only in the county but in the Coast region.
She is not your ordinary deputy governor whose role is simply to assist the county boss.
Her outspokenness and courage have defined her and the role she has spelt out for herself in building Kwale County alongside her boss, Governor Salim Mvurya.
Although she has only been in politics for four-and-a-half years now, the ease and courage with which she tackles the region’s politics portray her as a veteran.
She is an energetic politician, described by those who have worked with her as a leader always keen to get things right, and that is how she has earned her name in the county.
The 38-year-old lawyer is known for her loyalty to her soft-spoken but firm boss, whom she likes to introduce as “gavana wa nguvu” (a strong governor) during public rallies.
In 2013, the two ran on an ODM ticket but about two year’s into his administration, Governor Mvurya fell out with his party’s leadership and has since joined Jubilee Party.
The two are now running on the ruling party’s ticket and are ardent Jubilee supporters.
Ms Achani has supported the governor all the way and even as most county bosses fell out with their deputies ahead of the August 8 elections, in Kwale County it has been the opposite.
The two leaders have closely worked together in a county that has won accolades for its development projects.
"I have had an impressive working relationship with my boss and other county officials and a strong base on the ground,’’ says Ms Achani.
“And that is why I am confident that my boss will return the favour and support my 2022 bid," she says, adding that her motivation to go for the top county seat is, in part, out of concern that women in her community have been marginalised and viewed as people who cannot lead.
Ms Achani attributes their excellent working relationship to the fact that Governor Mvurya is a selfless leader whose agenda, she says, is to transform the county.
"We have no other business other than developing our county," she says, adding that those who have fallen out with their bosses have always had their own interests.
"Our leadership qualities have enabled us to stand together as we serve the interests of the people of Kwale because we have a common vision. There is that respect we have kept between my governor and me. It has been replicated by every staff working with the county," she says.
Apart from the good working relationship with the governor and the county executives, Ms Achani says she has always been involved and consulted in the day-to-day running of the county.
"I have never felt isolated since we took office in 2013. I'm involved in every aspect of the county matters, like the budget process among other things," she said, adding that Governor Mvurya is transparent and open-minded.
In her four years, she says she has achieved a lot, being a human rights advocate, she has devoted her considerable time and energy to support the education of girls and empowerment of women.
The deputy governor describes herself as a model for women in leadership, saying she has set the bar for women to take up leadership positions not just at the Coast, but in the country.
"I am definitely a model for women leadership and a capable leader with a firm stand on what I believe is right. I am not easily manipulated and I have set the bar high for women in leadership and it is a true demonstration that women can lead. I have done it for the past four years," she says.
Born to devoted Muslim parents in Kingwede Village in Msambweni Sub-County, Ms Achani has weathered many challenges that have seen her proof herself as a leader as well as make a name for herself on joining politics.
The outspoken deputy governor holds a law degree from Moi University and a diploma from the Kenya School of Law.
Before joining politics in 2013, she worked as an associate advocate Maina Njanga & Company Advocates in Mombasa and also served as a legal counsel and programme officer for the Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida-Kenya).
She says her political life was also shaped by the challenges she has watched women, especially in rural Kwale, face.
For now, her focus is to campaign round the clock to ensure Governor Mvurya bounces back so that he can complete programmes his administration has set out for Kwale County and its people.