Friday, September 16, 2016

Bad apples

So far, in my estimation, the following have shown a very strong interest in becoming Nairobi City County's next governor, a position the incumbent intends to defend: Miguna Miguna, Philip Kisia, Margaret Wanjiru and Esther Passaris. The four were at one time or another members of Raila Odinga's ODM. 

Mr Miguna campaigned for Raila Odinga and served as a member of his office when he was Prime Minister. Mr Kisia sought to be Evans Kidero's running mate in the 2013 election, but claims that corruption derailed his ambitions. Ms Wanjiru served as an Assistant Minister in Mwai Kibaki's Cabinet courtesy of her seat in Parliament via ODM. Ms Passaris sought the Embakasi seat on an ODM ticket.

All four appeared in what passes for the pre-eminent political show of the century, Jeff Koinange Live, which has been reduced to a hashtag these days. What is certain is that none of them is fit to be the next governor of Nairobi City, not that Nairobi City's voters care that much about fitness. Mr Miguna may claim to be the only candidate with integrity, but he has no executive experience. His service in the office of the Prime Minister remains shrouded in acrimony. Integrity is one thing; competence is quite another.

Ms Wanjiru has served in the executive but her service was marred with ceaseless allegations of graft, especially revolving around the question of National Housing Corporation houses. It doesn't help that how she behaved in relation to her estranged husband and his death was sensationally unseemly. Mr Kisia claims to have been a very successful Town Clerk when he served in the City Council of Nairobi. But few remember his achievements. Whenever Nairobians think of successful and effective Town Clerks, they think of John Gakuo.

Ms Passaris might not have executive experience in the public service but she has run a successful business, Adopt-A-Light, nurturing it from an idea into one of the most copied business ventures in Nairobi. Adopt-A-Light's fall from glory has been steep and Ms Passaris doesn't seem to have had a second wind in her corporate career. Indeed, she seems to spend great amounts of time in court over bankruptcies and insolvencies. Hers is a risk we cannot afford to take. But things are not that simple.

In a Kenyan election, in any election really, voters must choose from a basket of rotten apples and so it is with the choice of Nairobi's next governor. We are faced with more Kiderorisation that continues to visit misery on the residents of this city or a choice from among four flawed candidates. Mr Miguna's has an ego that matches his acerbic tongue but those do not disqualify him. He has no record of achievement in an executive position and though he is no doubt correct that integrity is vital, if that integrity is married to incompetence, it is likely to be as devastating as corruption has been to the fortunes of this city. He is the least qualified candidate.

Ms Passaris has successfully run one business venture. She sold it and moved on. Now she is battling auctioneers and bailiffs. She can of use as an alternative voice, but her financial problems also disqualify her. Ms Wanjiru danced on her late husband's grave. While morality isn't really a key factor in choosing a governor, governors shouldn't publicly celebrate the deaths of even their bitterest enemies. She's out too. We are left with Mr Kisia. He has served in the public service and his insider knowledge of City Hall is valuable. But a lot has changed since he was the Town Clerk so he may have to be quick to forestall paralysis if there is a changeover and he is elected in Mr Kidero's place. Of all the bad apples available, Mr Kisia is the least worst. So far, anyway.

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