Former trade unionist Edward Mutahi Kahiga was sworn in as the fourth Governor of Nyeri County on Monday in a colourful ceremony skipped by other county bosses.
The 57-year-old former teacher, who was accompanied by his wife Caroline Wamaitha Mutahi, officially replaced his erstwhile boss Wahome Gakuru.
Dr Gakuru died in a road accident last week at Kabati, on the Nyeri-Nairobi highway, in Murang’a County.
Justice Jarius Ngaa conducted the ceremony, which was initially scheduled to be held after Dr Gakuru’s burial, at the Nyeri County headquarters.
Mr Samuel Wamathai, who took over as governor early this year following the death of Nderitu Gachagua in a London hospital, was among the more than 500 residents at the ceremony.
Surprisingly, none of the other 46 governors showed up.
Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi and Kiambu’s Ferdinand Waititu had, however, attended a related prayer meeting on Sunday, where they pledged their support for Mr Kahiga.
The Senate sent Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen while the national government was represented by ICT Cabinet Secretary Joseph Mucheru, who is chairing the national organising committee for Dr Gakuru’s burial.
Nyeri leaders present included County Assembly Speaker John Kaguchia, Senator Ephraim Maina and the six MPs.
Also present was Kirinyaga Deputy Governor Peter Ndambiri and several Gachagua-era officials.
Governor Kahiga announced that he would retain the county executives that they had picked with Dr Gakuru.
The ministers had been approved by the County Assembly and sworn in but will have to take the oath of office afresh.
He promised to continue with the projects and vision of Dr Gakuru while ensuring transparency and accountability.
The tough-talking governor put on notice contractors and service providers doing business with the county, warning that he will not entertain corruption and shoddy work.
“I will deliver economic growth anchored on transparency and accountability,” Mr Kahiga said.
Mr Murkomen said he will table a bill in the Senate to enable a deputy governor who takes over a county to appoint an assistant.
“I believe we will examine the bill and pass it within one month. If we do that, Mr Kahiga will be in a position to appoint his assistant, who will be approved by MCAs,” Mr Murkomen said.
Interestingly, Mr Kahiga campaigned for the deputy governor’s position in the August 8 General Election without knowing whom he would deputise.
At gatherings, he often introduced himself as a deputy governor candidate — until March, when he was picked by Dr Gakuru as his running mate.
Having served as Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) executive secretary, Nyeri Branch, for seven years, Mr Kahiga joined active politics last year, when he was voted to head Jubilee Party in the county in elections that turned violent.
A jack of all trades, the father of four has a master’s degree in education.
He was a head teacher at Maragima Primary School in Kieni East Sub-County and taught at Karundas and Milimani primary schools, all in Nyeri.
He also holds positions in several organisations — including Athletics Kenya and Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK).
Acting Knut Executive Secretary Zachary Mathenge said of Mr Kahiga:
“He is a very wise man and a worker who has helped grow the union in the county.”