Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris has expressed her interest in becoming the next Nairobi deputy governor.
Ms Passaris said that she is ready to relinquish her position as Woman Rep to fill the position left vacant by the resignation of Polycarp Igathe in January this year, in the spirit of the March 9 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga.
“I asked Governor Mike Sonko if I can be his deputy. The governor needs a deputy and if he cannot find one then I am willing to take the position to help him, and in the spirit of the handshake, we can have a Jubilee-Nasa partnership,” said Ms Passaris.
The former Adopt-A-Light chief executive said she is ready to assume the position since Miguna Miguna, who was nominated for the position by Governor Sonko last month, has declined to take up the post, adding that the county is suffering in terms of service delivery due to lack of a substantive deputy governor as the governor has a lot in his plate.
“If we do not fight poverty in this city and other critical issues, then we are all doomed. The state of hopelessness is too high and the governor therefore needs an able deputy,” she said.
Ms Passaris, however, gave a condition for taking over as the third deputy governor of Nairobi, saying that she has to be given a clear mandate on what her role will be and given at least three departments to run in order to help in service delivery.
“He needs somebody like me but I can only go there if I am given clear departments to run. I want environment, water, education and trade departments. I have to have an impact and I can achieve this if I have the executives and make sure they work,” said the mother of two.
The social entrepreneur and politician feels she can deliver, saying she knows the county well.
“I know this county. I have lived in this county. If you choose me as your deputy, I only want four departments the same way President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto did in 2013 when they shared ministries and I will deliver,” she said.
On Wednesday, May 30, 2018, Governor Sonko told President Kenyatta at Jacaranda Grounds in Nairobi not to be overly concerned by the deputy governor nomination fiasco that saw him nominate opposition activist Miguna Miguna to be his deputy, a decision that has not gone down well with the Jubilee Party leadership.
But does Ms Passaris stand a chance?
Governor Sonko was categorical in April during an interview with a local radio station that that Mr Igathe’s replacement would be a woman, most possibly from the Kikuyu community and from the corporate world.
Ms Passaris is the daughter of a Kenyan mother and a Greek father and her middle name is Muthoni and she is not a technocrat but a businesswoman who in 2016 was named as the most influential woman both in politics and business by CEO Global from South Africa.
According to sources, upon the exit of Mr Igathe, the governor had drawn up of a list of prospective candidates, all women, he wanted to pick to deputise him after the Supreme Court delivered a ruling that gave governors the green light to pick their deputies, should vacancy occur.
Among those the governor had lined up were Ms Karen Nyamu, former Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru, Ms Agnes Kagure and former nominated senator Elizabeth Ongoro.
Ms Kagure, an insurer who played a key role in Sonko’s election, has always been the frontrunner in the race to fill the vacant position as she is seen as ticking all the right boxes of the requirements set by the City Hall boss.
Ms Passaris also has the daunting task of convincing Jubilee Party top leadership considering that she is from the opposition party, Orange Democratic Movement.
In 2008, she had been nominated by ODM as a councillor in the Nairobi City Council and was then to be elected as mayor by the councilors but she was part of the names that were purged by the then Minister for Local Government Uhuru Kenyatta, the current president, ending her hopes of ever becoming a mayor.
The position later went to Geoffrey Majiwa who served for two years before passing the torch to George Aladwa.
She also has to win over the Jubilee MCAs at the assembly who maintain that the governor must nominate only an individual from their party as Political Parties Act does not allow anyone who is not a member of the same party as the governor to be nominated.