UNENVIABLE POSITION

Who wants to be Nairobi's county secretary with such turnover?

The current acting secretary was arrested last week for allegedly hiding documents in graft investigations

In Summary

• Occupants exit controversially over, among other accusations, corruption and incompetence.

• Kahiga has held the job in an acting capacity for eight months .

Devolution executive and also acting county secretary Pauline Kahiga
'NOT ARRESTED': Devolution executive and also acting county secretary Pauline Kahiga
Image: MAUREEN KINYANJUI

The county secretary is the backbone of all Nairobi public services.

Sadly it has a high turnover, with occupants exiting controversially over among other accusations, corruption and incompetence. 

In less than six years, Nairobi has had four county secretaries. 

 

The first appointee under devolution was Lillian Ndegwa who was picked by former Governor Evans Kidero in 2014.

A year later, in April 2015, Ndegwa was suspended after she was charged with defrauding the county of Sh17.9 million with colleagues Regina Chepkemoi and Nancy Waithera.

She was accused of stealing the money from the county’s account held at Co-operative Bank’s City Hall branch.

Ndegwa was forced to step aside after being mentioned in a report released by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

Lillian Ndegwa
IN AN ONGOING COURT CASE: Lillian Ndegwa
Image: COURTESY

She is among other ex-City Hall officials, including Kidero, facing court charges over the loss of Sh213 million.

The crime is said to have been committed between November 1, 2013, and December 3, 2014. 

Gregory Mwakanongo, who had been the Finance executive took over in an acting capacity after Ndegwa's suspension in 2015. 

 

In January 2016, Kidero officially appointed Robert Ayisi as county secretary.  Ayisi had been the county's Health chief officer.

Health problems edged Ayisi out of the hot seat. He was replaced by Leboo ole Morintat in an acting capacity. Leboo served in that position until Kidero was defeated by Mike Sonko in the August 2017 general elections. 

Last year, Sonko picked Peter Kariuki, an experienced executive, from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s office to be the county's third secretary.

Kariuki was head-hunted from the OP's Project Delivery Unit. 

But on September 4, last year, Kariuki was arrested but released unconditionally for disobeying court orders issued against the county by Justice John Mativo.

In December 2017, Justice George Odunga had issued a warrant of arrest against the county secretary for disobeying orders that directed City Hall to pay a firm for services it rendered to the county.

Following the arrest on September 18, Sonko suspended Kariuki alongside three top county officials for "insubordination" over the Pumwani Maternity Hospital saga.

Pauline Kahiga, the then Chief Officer for Urban Planning, was appointed in an acting capacity as Kariuki's replacement.

On April 1, Kahiga was sworn in in a private ceremony as the Devolution CEC and still in acting capacity as the county secretary.

Even before she had sat pretty in office, Kahiga was last Wednesday arrested by anti-graft agency detectives for allegedly hiding documents in graft investigations at City Hall.

However, Kahiga told the Star she was not arrested and that EACC needed her to submit documents on the Dandora dumpsite.

The holder of the office of the county secretary heads the County Public Service, in addition to being the secretary to the County Executive Committee.

Early in March, the county assembly led by Majority leader Abdi Guyo urged Sonko to appoint a county secretary.

The members were concerned that the county secretary had served in an acting capacity for a long time. 

"The county secretary is an important position in the county government. We cannot operate with an acting county secretary because there are some functions and duties one cannot perform in that capacity," Guyo said.

"It's either he recalls former county secretary or appoints a new one," he said. 

(Edited by R.Wamochie)