By Fuad Abdirahman
Kenyans see the deputy governor’s office as an extension of the governor, one with no specific mandate. This has been exacerbated by the Constitution, which restricts the deputy governor’s mandate to representing the governor in his absentia and simply describing him as the chief executive officer, a post that has little prominence in most counties.
Governors have in the past four years disregarded their deputies. Some fought back while others accepted to be bulldozed silently. In an unprecedented breach of authority, a governor once tried to remove his deputy from office before, typical of the Kenyan politician, later denying ever trying to do so. Many alliances that were formed in 2013 are at lousy ends.
The only thing to smile about being deputy governor is the security of tenure that comes with it. The Constitution gives details of how a governor can be removed from his office – really by impeachment. The deputy is however safe as it is s/he that assumes office upon the success of such a manoeuvre.
Unlike the presidency, which is normally held together by a memorandum of understanding, there are no guarantees of good relations between the governor and his deputy. Usually, it is the deputy who takes the brunt.
Some alliances have been wrecked even before they officially commence. A notable one is that between Nairobi gubernatorial hopeful Miguna Miguna and his young deputy, James Gathungu, whom he dropped days after unveiling. Mike Sonko, another gubernatorial aspirant in Nairobi had his pick for deputy dropped in favour of one chosen for him by his party.
The relationship between governors and their deputies is akin to that we see in marriage contracts where a bridegroom picks a bride under strict terms that by default often give one party, preferably the bridegroom, the upper hand – governors being the grooms here.
The main reason governors and deputy governors were already at loggerheads in 2013 is the fear that the deputies would grow strong and over run them come 2017. These fears have been proven largely true. The only way to contain them was to sabotage them.
Many deputy governors had to prove loyalty to their governors in order for them not to be ditched. Nairobi deputy governor Jonathan Mueke’s admission that he had never given Kidero the slightest reason to drop him in the 2017 re-election shows how the position remains insignificant – as only an employee of the governor.
Immediately after the election in 2013, some deputy governors started complaining of mistreatment from their bosses, some saying they had been frustrated. The deputy governor of Garissa, Abdullahi Hussein, for instance, said that his boss had little regard for him. Abdullahi claimed that officials allied to the governor were taking over his mandate.
“I don’t understand why I was not involved despite a project falling under my office; is someone trying to sabotage my office?” he lamented once.
The case between the Garissa Governor (Nathif Jama) and his deputy has since …
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