In what appears to be an effort to assure Nyamira residents that all is well in the county, Governor John Nyagarama has spoken about the strained relationship with his deputy Amos Nyaribo.
Mr Nyagarama said he is in talks with Mr Nyaribo after a falling-out two weeks ago over appointments. The county chief told journalists on Thursday that he had no issue with his deputy.
However, he appeared to stamp his authority on the devolved unit, saying he is the only one with powers to employ and sack county staff.
“A deputy governor cannot sack or employ people in the county, even when the governor is away,” said Mr Nyagarama.
According to the County Governments Act, a deputy governor discharges all the duties pertaining to those of a governor as stated in the Constitution, with the exception of nominating, appointing or dismissing county officials, a task that is only assigned to the governor.
The two have, from time to time since their election in 2013, disagreed over appointments, with the deputy governor saying his boss does not consult him.
In the last two years, Mr Nyaribo has been opposing employment of staff and, in some cases, moving to court.
In 2018, Mr Nyagarama got a reprieve after a court ruled in his favour in a case in which Mr Nyaribo had sued over a pre-election deal that would have seen the two share the government on a 50-50 basis.
The case had greatly affected the relationship between the two. An Employment and Labour Relations Court in Kisumu dismissed with costs the miscellaneous application that sought to restrain Governor Nyagarama from committing a breach of the coalition agreement, saying it lacked merit.
On Thursday, Mr Nyagarama said that in their meeting with Mr Nyaribo, they discussed many issues pertaining to the county.
Two weeks ago, Mr Nyaribo’s official vehicle had its tyres deflated by unknown people.
He accused some county government officials of being behind his woes over his recent stand to oppose the appointment of 34 health workers.
He further demanded the resignation of the county’s Public Service Board Chairman Peter Onchari Kereri over alleged abuse of office.
Some locals saw this as a direct onslaught on the governor, given that he approved the appointment of Mr Onchari as the new PSB Chairman last year.
In a signed letter dated January 16, 2020 and addressed to the PSB Chairman, Mr Nyaribo alleged that Mr Onchari had failed to act with integrity and transparency.
This followed what he termed illegal hiring of 34 health workers in a deliberate effort to mislead the public that due process was followed.
“I put forward that the advertisement for recruitment of the health workers was not done according to the law. No interviews were done, hence the employment was done illegally,” said Mr Nyaribo in the letter copied to Governor Nyagarama.
The County Government Act of 2012 states that if a public office is to be filled, the county PSB shall invite applications through advertisement and other modes of communication so as to reach as wide a population of potential applicants as possible and especially persons who, for any reason, have been or may have been disadvantaged.
“Since then, we have written two letters to you demanding confirmation of due process but no answers have been provided,” said Mr Nyaribo.
Mr Nyaribo had also moved to court seeking to have his boss restrained from appointing or maintaining the appointment of Mr Eric Onchana Aori, the then County Secretary.
“It is important to report that the injunction sought is final there being no pending suit to be determined thereafter,” read a ruling by Judge Mathews Nduma Nderi.
Mr Nyaribo had said his boss no longer consulted him on county affairs and had been hiring members of the executive and chief officers without his knowledge.
The deputy governor further said a decision by the governor to reinstate the previously suspended county secretary, Mr Onchana, goes against their MOU.
The county secretary had been fired after Mr Nyagarama left for the US for treatment.