Tana River Governor’s Dilemma as he Assumes Office

Incoming Tana River Governor major (rtd) Dhadho Gaddae Godhana’s in-tray is overflowing with unfinished business.

Apart from the onerous task of forming a balanced, all-inclusive and efficient county government, Major (rtd) Godhana, who assumed office on Monday, will have to contend with pending work left by his predecessor, Amb. Hussein Dado.

Major Godhana’s biggest burden will be to clear debts amounting to about S.3 billion owed by the county government to contractors as well as sort out salary arrears for county staff, who have not been paid for two months.

It was evident during the preparations for the assumption of office ceremony that the retired army major will inherit empty coffers as there was no money to planned for the ceremony.

The assumption of committee had to borrow funds to organize the function that was presided over by Malindi High Court Judge Patrick Otieno at the Hola Stadium.

Most of the county government’s vehicles have for many months been held at various garages in Malindi and Mombasa after the county administration failed to pay for repairs and servicing.

However, Godhana’s consolation is the fact that the out-going county assembly did not pass this financial year’s estimates/budget and the resultant appropriation bill following differences between members of the county assembly (MCAs) and the governor.

The stand-off, which arose after MCAs demanded the release of more than Sh200 million meant for the ward bursary fund as a pre-requisite for the approval of the budget estimates, is what has led to the failure to pay workers in July and August.

During a live gubernatorial debate in July, former county assembly speaker Dr. Abdi Nassir Nuh said the failure by the assembly to approve the estimates was a blessing in disguise, as the then governor would not have a chance to spend the money on his campaigns.

Let the new governor pass his own budget together with the new county assembly, Dr. Nuh, who unsuccessfully contested the governorship in the just concluded elections, said.

The Sh5.7 billion budget will therefore have to wait for the swearing in of the county assembly members later this month before it can be adopted.

More than Sh 2.9 billion (52 per cent) will go to recurrent expenditure while about Sh. 2.8 billion (48 per cent) will be for development.

On Monday, major (rtd) Godhana urged his staff to be patient as all of them would be paid as soon as practically possible.

I am aware that workers have not been paid for two months. I want to assure them that they will all be paid very soon, Major Godhana said during the swearing in ceremony.

However, it is not clear why contractors are yet to be paid despite the fact that the projects they implemented had been fully budgeted for and no funds were carried forward from last financial year’s budget.

Speaking immediately after his installation, the new governor assured genuine contractors that their monies would be paid, but added that he would meticulously study each contract to ensure it complied with the laid down procurement regulations.

I have just signed an integrity code and I would not like to do anything that will burn my fingers and yours too, he said adding, I will have to take time and study all contracts before any payments can be processed for the genuine ones.

Godhana will also have to deal with a highly demotivated county staff, most of who have been in the payroll without work to do.

This is because many of the departments were starved of facilitation/funds as most funds were reallocated to finance the governor’s flagship projects, many of which had not been budgeted for.

This was done without the approval of the county assembly.

As a result, many county workers have been making technical appearances and leaving for their personal businesses to avoid boredom in their makeshift offices.

But during his address, Major Godhana seemed not to understand why the staff spent most of their time away from their offices.

County workers must stop the habit of spending their time in Malindi and Mombasa at the expense of serving our people, he said.

He especially warned those he would appoint to various senior positions such as county executive committee members, chief officers and directors that they would have to work with dedication to enable him to deliver on his pre-election campaigns.

Many people are pressing me to employ them as County Executive Committee Members, chief officers and many other positions, he said.

Jobs will be available, but even as I employ you, know that I also have a pen that I will use to dismiss you if you do not deliver to the expectations of our people, he warned.

In forming his government, Godhana will have the challenge of pleasing his Pokomo community, who have felt excluded in the past four and a half years, his campaign financiers and a balance to ensure the face of the county is represented in his government.

His predecessor tried to balance, but fell short after most senior positions went to close allies and relatives, leading to a rebellion even from his own Orma community.

Although Godhana has pledged to unite all communities, he has to beware of some people who are already surrounding him, that could spoil the broth for him and make him unselleable in 2022.

During his speech on Monday, Godhana pledged to unite all the communities in the county with a view to creating a harmonious and peaceful environment that would propel his development agenda with ease.

I intend to tap our local human resource potential through which we shall constitute an efficient and all-inclusive County Government that can deliver to the expectations of our people, he said.

The incoming governor said he would strive to project a development agenda that will enable equitable distribution of resources with impact to the residents across the spectrum.

To address our challenges and close the existing development gaps, I wish to broaden our scope of partnerships, both locally and internationally, he said.

Politically speaking, the incoming governor will have the challenge of having a minority of MCAs on his side in the county assembly.

His Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party does not have even a single seat in the assembly, while his side of the coalition, the National Super Alliance (NASA) has a combined membership of only five of the 15 elected members.

The Jubilee Party and its allied parties KANU and the Kenya Patriots Party have a combined membership of eight elected members while Kadu Asili and Mazingira Green Party of Kenya, which are not allied to any coalition, have one member each.

It is therefore not clear who will represent the interests of his government in the legislature without the requisite majority.

For him to succeed, he will have to play the ethnic card as he did during the campaigns. The Woman Representative-elect, Ms Rehema Hassan, and a number of elected MCAs, despite being in Jubilee and allied parties, were allied to him and this may not change.

Godhana’s main thorn in the flesh could be the county’s senator-elect Juma Golicha Wario, who has pledged to effectively perform his oversight role with a view to protecting the resources entrusted to the county government.

He has promised to support the new governor in his duties as long as his administration does justice to the people of Tana River County.

If you do well, we will support you and you will be happy in your new office. However, if you go the crooked way, we will also be crooked with you, he said during the governor’s inauguration ceremony.

He could also face a challenge from Bura Member of Parliament Ali Wario of Jubilee, who did not attend Monday’s assumption of office ceremony, although he sent his apology through the senator-elect.

Source: Kenya News Agency