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Kiambu County Assembly majority whip throws in the towel

Tuesday November 27 2018

Kiambu County Assembly during a past session.

Kiambu County Assembly during a past session. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

ERIC WAINAINA
By ERIC WAINAINA
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Kiambu County Assembly Majority Whip Elijah Njoroge has resigned in circumstances believed to be related to the silent but vicious battle for control of the regional House.

The resignation of Mr Njoroge, the Ward Rep for Biashara Ward in Ruiru, has lifted the lid on a simmering leadership row that has seen some MCAs complain that the House serves the interests of Governor Ferdinand Waititu at the expense of the electorate.

Mr Njoroge, in a letter dated November 22, 2018, said he quit due to “unresolved issues pertaining to the county assembly and the county executive, and for the sake of unity of the County Government of Kiambu, and to uphold my dignity and integrity”.

WAITITU

But according to multiple sources, Mr Njoroge's push for the House’s independence, which is said to have caused a behind-the-scenes competition between him and the governor, appeared set to see him removed.

Mr Njoroge had on several occasions faulted the county leadership style, which he claimed had emasculated the 92-member House on legislation and oversight.

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“The position nearly killed me politically since, apart from the fact that it made me too busy for my constituents, I was forced to support and push members to pass bills and motions, even when they oppressed the people,” he said yesterday.

Mr Njoroge has in the past expressed discomfort with Governor Waititu’s leadership style and had, in July, invited MCAs for a meeting to deliberate on these issues. But the meeting was cancelled by Majority Leader and Kiambu Town MCA Antony Ikonya.

In his protest note sent to members via their WhatsApp group after the meeting was cancelled, Mr Njoroge cited the controversial rehabilitation programme dubbed “Kaa Sober”, on which Sh2 million is spent daily, and alleged corruption as the other main issue he wanted discussed.

Other issues included the Emergency Fund (whose bank account was depleted), poor revenue collection, alleged illegalities in procurement, non-payment of contractors and disputes between the House leadership and committees.

“This (cancellation of the meeting) is the disadvantage of having a majority leader who is forced on members, selfish, pocketed, sycophant, proud ... and who works to defend the executive instead of defending the members (sic),” read the letter.

Prior to Mr Njoroge's resignation, sources said Mr Waititu and some MCAs had hatched a plot to impeach him, and had even proposed a replacement.

But before they could carry out their plan, Mr Njoroge resigned, apparently to avoid possible humiliation.

Mr Waititu fronted Kahawa Sukari MCA Livingstone Waiganjo to succeed him in the position reserved for Kiambu East Ward. But most of the MCAs rejected him and instead picked Mwiki MCA James Mburu, who had Mr Njoroge's backing.

Both Mr Ikonya and Mr Njoroge contested the Majority Leader’s position and, according to some MCAs, the latter won. But the election was overturned and a fresh one ordered by the governor.

Mr Ikonya won the repeat election, garnering 45 votes to Mr Njoroge's 44.

Contacted Tuesday, Mr Ikonya said he did not want to comment on the matter, while our calls to Mr Waititu went unanswered.