Former Kasarani MP and Nominated Senator Hon Mrs Elizabeth Ongoro has emerged as the strongest and most qualified contender for appointment to the office of the Deputy Governor – Nairobi County, according to analysts who spoke to Kenya Live News.
For a start, Ongoro is no political upstart and has the prerequisite experience of having successfully served as a legislator in Nairobi’s sprawling and multi-ethnic Kasarani Constituency where she left an impeccable record. Additionally, Ongoro has the experience of having served as a Senator drawn from Nairobi and therefore acted in an oversight position for the county government.
In contrast, all those so far named lack these critical credentials but there is more reasons that gives Ongoro the edge over her rivals.
As it stands now, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has a free hand to nominate a new deputy governor after the Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling earlier this month, said Governors have powers to appoint their deputies should a vacancy arise in the offices but with the approval of the county assemblies.
The appointment of a deputy governor has been held back due to legal quagmire that arose on whether governors have powers to appoint a deputy in case one resigns or is deposed.
Already, in Nairobi, the governor has publicly engaged residents on potential candidates for his deputy, with mixed results. The governor has also assured Nairobi County residents that the list will be revised several times and trimmed until we come up with a suitable candidate.
More importantly however, Sonko’s impending nomination of a deputy governor will certainly be impacted heavily by recent political developments.
On 9th March, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta and H.E. Raila Odinga put aside their ideological differences and assured the country that they will henceforth work together to bridge ethnic and political differences in Kenya. On top of the Uhuru-Raila deal is an urgent need on reduction of ethnic competition and antagonism. The two leaders want to see more inclusivity and equitable sharing of the national cake.
What does this portend for Governors?
An analysis of those occupying the top public positions in Nairobi County, for instance, reveal a disturbing picture of exclusivity. The Kikuyu community are occupying several senior advisory and appointive positions in office of the Governor, while Kamba are represented by the Governor himself. The Luhya occupy both the Speaker and Senate positions, plus the Cabinet Secretary of Devolution in the national government also being a Luhya.
Yet, despite their bigger demographics in Nairobi, Luos are conspicuously and unfairly absent in the top leadership positions of Nairobi.
The Hon Elizabeth Ongoro is the senior most qualified Luo leader with the relevant experience in Nairobi public service. Further, Hon Ongoro is qualified and with a proven track record of unifying multi-ethnic communities in Nairobi. This is ability that will greatly enhance the capacity of the Governor himself.
It goes without saying, Governor Sonko now has a golden opportunity to fix a fundamental flaw and to name the best qualified deputy governor in Hon Mrs Ongoro, while demonstrating he’s willing to stand behind H.E. Kenyatta and H.E. Odinga in their bid to unite this country. Sonko has a chance to cross the rubicon of the NASA/Jubilee faultline and show he is himself potentially a national leader.
To add the icing on the cake, Ongoro served in parliament when both Sonko and herself were members of the national assembly representing Kasarani and Makadara constituencies, and again served as members of the Senate during the same term. The two should therefore not have any problem building synergy to unify and serve the people of Nairobi and help reach the county development goals.
Sonko’s natural choice for deputy governor should be headhunted from the NASA side and that nominee should be a woman. That woman, qualified in her own right, is Hon Mrs. Elizabeth Ongoro.