Now that Kiambu Governor James Nyoro has taken full charge of his county government by naming a deputy, Ms Joyce Wanjiku Ngugi, and shuffling his Cabinet, the era of great expectations is upon the county folks who hope that he will deliver as time goes by.
In many senses, the people of Kiambu have been doing themselves a great disservice in the past two elections by first voting for a man who started exhibiting an acute sense of hubris that messed up his achievements.
A brilliant man, former Governor William Kabogo has only himself to blame for his exit.
He lost to another whose populist tendencies at first endeared him to the voters, only for them to realise that some of the mind-boggling “policies” he espoused were meant to benefit only himself, his family and cronies.
As a result, while other counties have had only one governor in the past eight years, Kiambu boasts three already.
This is not good, for there is something to be said about the virtues of continuity in leadership as long as it is within the constitutional term limits.
LEARN FROM MISTAKES
To ensure that Kiambu folks won’t see a need to elect yet another governor in the next two years, it is imperative that Dr Nyoro learns from the mistakes of his two predecessors and seeks to convince voters that he is truly their servant and not their overlord.
This unsolicited advice is born of the fact that I was born in the county when it was a mere district, was reared and educated there, and will, most likely, be laid to rest there; though on that last one, I am not in any great hurry.
So, in short, I am a true stakeholder in the county’s development and destiny.
The second thing that Dr Nyoro should realise is that thousands of voters chose the ticket he was running on only because they hoped he would succeed in tempering impeached governor Ferdinand Waititu’s more gratuitous misapprehensions of his role.
However, he never got a chance to influence any decision whatsoever, and the two gentlemen were, for two long years, always at loggerheads.
It is to his credit that Dr Nyoro never did an Igathe on Kiambu voters. Sometimes it is better to bear humiliation instead of letting down those who believed in you.
Now that he is in a position to help his people, he must ensure he consults them regularly by working closely with MCAs and not coming up with half-baked projects.
Never again should any governor throw away taxpayers’ money through ridiculous efforts to rehabilitate alcohol addicts by giving them money daily on which to get drunk.
I don’t like to hit a man when he is down, but that was one of the most hare-brained schemes ever, one that surely deserved inclusion in the Guinness Book of Records.
I wonder how many of the kumi kumi (illicit brew) crowd did get rehabilitated? But even that is beside the point.
What is more crucial is that the county has gone to the dogs in a lot of ways due to poor leadership and vested interests.
Once upon a time, the then Kiambu District used to be one of the richest in the country, and that was not because, as the popular lore went, the county’s first President came from there.
Today, despite the misleading statistics, there are no reasons to support such a theory, even if the fourth President does come from there as well.
I do not know of any comparative studies done to support my contention, but I believe the county is now behind many others in wealth creation.
This is mainly due to the near-death of the cash-crop economy over the years. In the past, the area produced high volumes of coffee and tea for export, while juicy pineapples grew in the highlands.
Many peasant farmers also owned a cow or two, which provided milk for domestic consumption while those with bigger herds sold it to established dairies.
Today, things are different. It is a fact that small coffee growers have given up on the crop while large growers have sold their vast plantations to real estate developers.
Milk prices are so low that keeping even one cow has become a major burden; while on the whole, the co-operative movement has gone moribund in most parts of the county.
Now everybody is trying to go into avocado farming, but the land sizes are so small that it does not make economic sense to grow anything more than straggling beans and borer-infested maize.
Today, Kiambu is in danger of becoming one vast real estate owned by a relatively few multi-millionaires, while the bulk of the population – at the last count, 2.4 million – are being forced to eke out a precarious living.
If anybody can reverse this trend, it should be agricultural economist Nyoro, for he has the expertise to formulate interventionist policies that may help small farmers.
Carrying on as we are doing is not an option because at this rate, a county that used to feed itself may very soon start depending on relief food.
Mr Ngwiri is a consultant editor. [email protected]