• Saturday, 22 June 2024
THE STATESMAN OPINION: An Alert To Every Running Mate

THE STATESMAN OPINION: An Alert To Every Running Mate

It is 80 days to the general election, and last week I asked, how many plates of ugali would the naming of presidential running mates add to your table? My question remains. After all, Martha Karua or Rigathi Gachagua will be part of a bigger structure known as government, should Raila Odinga or William Ruto clinch the presidency. The same principle applies to Prof. George Wajackoya’s running mate, should the Root’s party flagbearer plough through the smoky contest and onward to the higher calling that is the presidency.

But today I want to address the running mates named by gubernatorial aspirants. I must from the onset congratulate you all. You are an election away from being the occupants of the second highest offices in the 47 counties. You will even acquire the title ‘Your Excellency.’ However, unlike the two major contestants in the presidential race, who have attempted to outline functions of the deputy president, should either of them clinch the country’s top job, no such attempts have been made by the governor aspirants.

After congratulating you, allow me to share with you a few truths. And if you doubt me, take time to talk to current occupants of the office of deputy governors or even their predecessors. Before I slap you with the truth, I must quickly remind you that those before you were named in similar fashion. Of course the principal consideration in settling on you as running mates is ethnic or clan dynamics in your counties, and the governor aspirants’ quest for votes. In almost all the 47 counties, governors have picked their running mates from the opposite gender. Not a bad thing. You have been unveiled in grand fashion. You will in similar fashion be well taken care of during the campaigns. The governor candidates will showcase you as the perfect running mates and deputies should you win in August. But the honeymoon is likely to end as soon as 10th or 11th August, once the results are announced.

You will be lucky to escape what befell your predecessors. Some deputy governors fell out almost immediately with the governors, because of competing political and economic interests. Naming of the county cabinet and other top positions will be the first main test. Unfortunately, many deputy governors are there to be seen, not to be heard. In some counties, they feature nowhere. It ends up being the governor’s solo show. If you doubt me, allow me at this point to run a quiz; how many of you can name just five deputy governors out of the current 47? See, you are struggling!

And I know this only too well. In the newsroom, we have covered cases of acrimony between governors and their deputies, right from 2013. Some deputies have come to their offices and found door locks changed. Remember the Mwangi wa Iria’s loud and very public tiffs with his deputy Gakure Monyo in the first term of Murang’a County administration? How about cases of governors who have had tyres of their official vehicles deflated to immobilise them or denied fuel and drivers abruptly withdrawn just to frustrate them? Have we forgotten the case of the then Kiambu deputy governor Dr. James Nyoro who would often find his office waterlogged, just to frustrate him and trigger his walkout?

Well, deputy governor nominees please prepare for a rough ride. Hold on to the hope that they will treat you better, than your predecessors were. But in the event you are not, I will have forewarned, and therefore forearmed you. And to the governor aspirants, best wishes. And should you win, remember to treat your deputies with decorum and respect. They are governors in waiting. You never know. You may be forced out of office, by a variety of circumstances, among them impeachment, or even demise, God forbid. Hopefully you have in your running mates, picked people with the capacity to lead county governments. By now, the country has understood the power of devolution. If you made poor choices, just know you did your counties a major disservice.

To the voters, take time to study the governor aspirants and their running mate. Do they have the capacity to manage billions of shillings allocated to your county? If not, deny them your votes, regardless of the parties. If they are tried, tested and trustworthy, vote for them. If you make good choices, it means five years of progress in your county. If you make poor choices, you will have simply walked into a 5-year jungle of no development and misuse of devolved resources! American economist and writer sums it up perfectly; we shall never change our political leaders until we change the people who elect them.

Kaa radar!

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