Residents of Wajir have expressed dissatisfaction with the “biased and gender insensitive” appointment of chief officers.
Only four women were appointed chief officers out of the 25 available posts.
Residents asked Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi to amend the list to meet the two-thirds gender rule, which would see at least eight women appointed.
The county had appointed four women – Ms Farhiya Ibrahim (Public Service, Labour Relations and Inter-Governmental Affairs), Ms Rahma Dekow Omar (Economic Planning, Budget and Statistics), Ms Fatuma Mohamed Hussein (Revenue and Resource Mobilisation) and Ms Muhuba Hassan Arte (Gender, Culture and Social Development).
In his defence, the governor blamed the community for failing to acknowledge the role of women and also “refusing” to be led by women.
“It is very unfortunate that majority of our people do not accept women to represent their interests irrespective of their qualifications or expertise,” said Mr Abdi while announcing the nominees.
Despite the gender imbalance, the governor said that all the appointments reflected the wishes and aspirations of Wajir people.
It has since emerged that an association of women from northern Kenya is planning to sue the county government over discrimination of women in the recent appointments of both County Executive Committee members and the chief officers.
It is not clear where and when the petition will be presented.
Mr Abdi further said that he had tried to balance the nominations in terms of diversity, minority groups, disability, gender, academic qualifications and competence.
Several residents took to social media to condemn the alleged 'discrimination' in the appointments.
Mr Rashid Abdi said that the appointments are likely to affect the governor’s political future as he had failed to keep his campaign promise. He added that some people feel cheated and are unlikely to support him in future.
“Some of us voted him in hoping that he will champion for inclusivity as stated in his manifesto but it now appears to us that those were just mere promises,” he said.
The statement by the governor on the few slots for women also appeared to anger some Kenyans online.
“Wajir County government is not employing qualified ladies, their excuse cannot be accepted. We can’t allow this in the 21st century,” said Mr Ahmed Kadar on his Twitter account as he rubbished the governor’s explanation on why he appointed a few women.
“That excuse is pure nonsense. What is the need of educating the girl child then?” said Mr Mike Tonui.
“I thought Wajir is in Kenya and thus guided by the Kenya civil service laws,” said Mr Charles Mwabili.
“It should be noted that Wajir government was built on the foundation of a negotiated democracy and with that appreciate our culture which implies that a married woman belongs to her husband’s clan,” argued Mr Hussein Hassan.
In his speech, the governor also introduced some 18 new positions apart from the 25 nominees.
He announced that he and the deputy governor will have private secretaries who would serve in an equal capacity as chief officers.
The governor also introduced four positions of deputy county secretaries, whom he said would be categorised under job group S hence at the same level as the chief officers.
Five positions under Wajir municipality were also introduced alongside the existing town administrator.
“It is very important that we modernise the town and improve service delivery and we are not abolishing town administration as these people will work in collaboration,” said the governor.
The governor also claimed that he was aware that more than 3,000 people were employed in the last administration saying that there is no time everyone will be content.
“I understand that even if we add more people in this list there will still be complaints. I want Wajir people to be content with this number,” he said.
The Nation could not independently verify whether the county hired 3,000 people.
The governor added that he might consider employing more people in future after an audit of all county workers is carried out.
However, some residents said the high number of appointees would deplete county coffers. They said the majority of new posts are a duplication of existing ones.
“Majority of the new positions are irrelevant. Imagine the amount of money that is going to be used to pay all the employees could be used in projects that could benefit the people,” said Mr Mohamed Ibrahim, a resident.
Residents also questioned the establishment of a fisheries docket.
"Take for instance the fisheries and alternative livelihood docket. What is the need of such a docket in the county yet we don't have fish farming in Wajir?" Mr Ibrahim asked.
Other residents interviewed by the Nation had similar sentiments.
The position of chief county administrator, whom the governor said will be equivalent to the county commissioner under the national government, also drew mixed reactions from residents.
"We are definitely headed towards uncharted waters as a county," another resident added.