There is a reason why electing former councillors as Members of County Assemblies will come to bite us in our hindparts. These people, at the best of times, were not the sharpest knives in the drawer.; these are not the best of times. They simply lowered the IQ of a nation by getting up in the morning in the bad old days of the Local Government Act. Way back then, when some uppity local authority made by-laws, the Minister for Local Government had to approve them before they could be enforced. (Uhuru Kenyatta might have been the last Local Government waziri with a sense of style when it came to kanjoras; Musalia was clearly at sea.)
In the age of devolution - the devolution of power and funds from an avaricious, tight-fisted National Executive to the grassroots - it was foolhardy, especially because of the billions that county government would control, to allow councillors to worm their way back into positions of elected responsibility. In contrast to the days when council chairmen and mayors determined budgets, and patronage, and they could dish out briefcases of cash to their favourite councillors, governors are at the mercy of their county assemblies. Without an understanding between the county executive and the county assembly, nothing will get done, including the pilfering that defined the lives of all former councillors now masquerading as members of county assembles, mini-waheshimiwas.
It takes a special kind of political genius to get anything done in Kenya, and far and away the most innovative governor seems to be Dr Alfred Mutua of Machakos. His county seems to be the epitome of political sanity; do the resident of Machakos County even know who their deputy governor is? By far, the most silent seems to be a toss-up between Dr Julius Malombe of Kitui and Prof Kivutha Kibwana of Makueni; when they two decide to open their mouths, it is always about political fires being put out or some other extra-county authority that is making their counties ungovernable. Creativity is not their strong suite.
Then there are those whom we stare at with pity mixed with a little shame that they are actually governors: Ken Lusaka of Kakamega, Martin Wambora of Embu, Peter Munya of Meru, Jackson Mandago of Uasin Gishu...those ranks have remained steadfastly swollen for the past year. Then there is the lot that simply defies explanation: William Kabogo (Kiambu), Ali Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Kinuthia Mbugua (Nakuru)...the disappointments? Only one comes readily to mind: Dr Evans Kidero (Nairobi City).
What unites all 47 governors in shaking in their boots is the fear that their MCAs may stray far from the reservation: Martin Wambora's goose is cooked unless he can reel back the ring leaders in his county assembly with a few well-deployed briefcases. Kivutha Kibwana might suffer a heart attack from all the trouble the Makueni assembly has caused him; as might Julius Malombe. Dr Mutua seems to have found the combination that keeps his name in the limelight, keeps his deputy's out, and keeps the assembly as pacified as a bunch of ex-councillors with delusions of grandeur can be. Dr Kidero seems to have discovered that Luo Nyanza is his natural habitat; Nairobi City simply has too many things going wrong at the same time that it is never going to be fixed. Ever.