When Governor Lee Kinyanjui delivered a high octane speech and dared a section of MCAs to impeach him, he had one message to the 77 ward reps – he was ready to bite the bullet.
His choice of words and body language as he delivered the five minute speech outside his office spoke volumes.
Mr Kinyanjui uncharacteristically tore down some of the MCAs’ moral standing as political leaders and reduced them to petty extortionists.
The hard hitting unwritten speech was perhaps one of the harshest the governor has ever issued in public since he was elected. He did not mince his words and that seems to put aside his political white gloves that he has used for the past two years to handle his critics.
READY FOR BATTLE
He is now spoiling for a political battle and says he is ready to take the MCAs head on.
Unlike other governors who go into panic after learning MCAs plan to impeach them, Mr Kinyanjui is not a worried man.
“Some of these MCAs should distinguish between oversight and extortion. If anybody thinks that in the process of exercising their oversight role they will use extortion to make certain decision in the executive, we are not ready for that… nobody should teach us how to do our work. If it is impeachment we are ready for it now and not even [in] 14 days” said Mr Kinyanjui who was accompanied by his deputy, Dr Erick Korir.
In the past when the executive and the assembly had a political stalemate, the two arms of government would hold a crisis meeting and sort out their political differences amicably.
BLOW TO MCAS
However, this time round Mr Kinyanjui has delivered a devastating blow to the MCAs hitting them below the belt when they least expected.
The MCAs’ frustrations seem to boil and barely a day after Mr Kinyanjui dared them to move the impeachment motion, two MCAs nearly exchanged blows in the chamber on Tuesday as they traded accusations over the governor’s statement.
One of the MCAs accused his nominated counterpart of being a sell-out to the governor, sparking a heated argument and a flurry of unprintable insults as other members watched in disbelief.
Mr Kinyanjui’s growing public anger is not surprising as in the first nine months of the 2019/2020 financial year, only 13.41 per cent of Sh10.5 billion development funds had been absorbed.
In his first financial year of 2017/2018 in office Mr Kinyanjui’s administration absorbed 34 per cent of the development funds and the following financial year it dipped to 32.6 per cent of Sh8 billion development budget.
Mr Kinyanjui has blamed the slow absorption of funds on the procurement department.
However, some human rights defenders and activists blame increasing corruption among his close aides as the main reason for slow development.
The procurement department has had a high turnover of directors and four acting directors – Ms Abe Bushman, Mr Kevin Gitau, Ms Nancy Kimemia, Ms Eliza Ngarari – have left in a huff while the fifth director in office, Mr Samuel Wachira, is having it rough.
The MCAs want Mr Wachira to be sacked saying he was not competitively recruited.
However, Finance CEC Peter Ketyenya defended Mr Wachira saying he was seconded from the government as provided for in the Procurement and Assent Disposal Act.
The MCAs also faulted the appointment of Mr Gerishon Nono Githiomi, a close aide of Mr Kinyanjui as the deputy Director of Procurement.
Mr Ketyenya denied the existence of the position of the deputy director of procurement since it is not provided for in law.
However, the executive could not provide appointment letters of director of procurement and his deputy, principal officers and procurement policy document in place at the executive as requested by the joint committee.
Moments after giving his statement, Mr Kinyanjui held a crisis meeting with the MCAs and top on the agenda was the removal of director of procurement and his deputy and decentralisation of procurement services to the departments.
The MCA said the current system has led to delay in procurement of goods and services.
“Decentralisation of procurement officers has impacted negatively on county’s efficiency to provide services and this has led to low absorption of development funds,” said Mr Joel Karuri, the chairman of the joint committee.
“We cannot all be queuing at the office of Nono begging for services for residents,” said former majority leader Stanley Karanja who is the architect of the impeachment motion.
According to a source who attended the meeting which lasted for less than 10 minutes, the governor expressed his profound disappointment with the way the MCAs are behaving.
“He doesn’t care what really the MCAs think about his style of leadership and he has vowed to push his development agenda,” said a source who attended the meeting that was also attended by some of the county executives.
Some of the MCAs said that Mr Kinyanjui’s new found style of leadership may have impact on how the assembly deals with the executive in the remaining two-and-half years.
“The governor is acting with a lot of impunity. He should not underrate us. The impeachment motion may be a still birth for now but there are surprises in store for him after the county budget is presented at the House this month,” said one of the MCAs who declined to go on record as he is one of his trusted foot soldiers at the assembly.
To many pundits, the MCAs might not be the real challenge to Governor Kinyanjui.
Many residents believe that the governor’s real challenge is to translate the billions of development funds from the national government into tangible projects in the spirit of devolution to all communities.
“I think the real test for Governor Kinyanjui, even as he changes his political tactic, is the billions of shillings the county has received. People want to see development on the ground but unfortunately there seems to be little to cheer about in the first two years,” said Mr Vincent Kibet, a resident of Olenguruone.
Some of the minority communities in his administration feel left out.
The Luo and Luhya communities which form about 25 per cent of the more than two million population are unhappy with the way they have been side-lined.
“The governor should reorganise his Cabinet to reflect the face of Nakuru,” said a statement signed by Mr Erick Ogada, Mr Hilton Abiola, Mr Francis Malichi (Ford-Kenya) and Mr Hezron Okiki (ODM)
Mr Kinyanjui rode to power on the promise to support a growing population of educated but unemployed and disenfranchised youth.
The youth, who are expected to shape Nakuru’s political future, feel left out in the current system.
To them, Governor Kinyanjui is yet to full fill most of his promises including the appointment of young people in key positions in his administration.
Governor Kinyanjui is certainly aware of the growing anxiety among the youth and his government has made deliberate efforts to revive the theatre but this is too little.
“Our main concern is that when mega outside door activities are planned, the county ‘imports’ artists from Nairobi as if we are inferior and this amounts to corruption,” said a spoken word artiste.
Whether or not the MCAs will manage to impeach the governor – which appears highly unlikely – remains to be seen.
But it is now clear that Governor Kinyanjui is out to play hard ball with the ward reps and it will be interesting to see how he handles some of his harshest critics – Senator Susan Wakarura Kihika and Bahtai MP Onesmus Kimani Ngunjiri – in his latest political recantation.