Embu governor Martin Wambora is the new chairman of the council of governors after he was elected unanimously Friday afternoon by fellow governors to take over from Kakamega governor Wycliffe Ambetsa Oparanya whose term has come to an end after serving for two years.
Wambora who is deputised by Kisii governor James Ongwae was handed over the instruments of service by Oparanya in a colourful ceremony witnessed by a host of leaders and dignitaries including devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, acting chief justice Philomena Mwilu, salaries and remuneration commission chairperson Lyn Mengich among others at a hotel in Westlands Nairobi.
The incoming chairman who has survived many political battles as a governor since he was first elected in 2013 earned himself a nickname as a man of nine lives and now after all the fights he is now at the helm of the powerful council of governors.
During the 2013 to 2017 period of leadership, Wambora was impeached several times by the members of Embu County Assembly but he always emerged victorious at the end of every impeachment at all levels and went ahead to be re-elected again by the electorate in Embu against then senator Lenny Kivuti among other contestants.
In his maiden speech Wambora has promised to continue with the programs and plans that the outgoing chairman had initiated and also promised to fight for more resources to the counties to rise up to at least 35 per cent. “I am ready, confident and committed to fight for the success of devolution by fighting for more resources to be channeled to devolution at least up to 35%,” said Wambora.
Oparanya in his speech after handing over the instruments of power revealed several challenges and successes that he achieved while at the helm of the council for two years but urged the new leadership to maintain relationships with the national government for the sake of achieving more for Kenyans at the grassroots.
“The struggle for adequate resources and timely release of money to counties is an ongoing tussle and should be pursued further by the new team of leadership,” said Oparanya. Devolution CS Wamalwa also noted that the gains of devolution should not be rolled back as proposed by some leaders but it is time to strengthen devolution and support it.
“Today we want to say that it is not time for us to roll back the gains in devolution but it is time to strengthen devolution and that is what we are going to do as the national government,” Wamalwa said.
Wambora takes over the leadership of the governors at a time when political temperatures are high in the country as the constitutional amendment proposal through BBI and the 2022 succession politics are top on the agenda of politicians and Kenyans at large. Incidentally both the outgoing chairman Wycliffe Oparanya and his deputy Mwangi Wa Irua of Murang’a have announced their aspirations to contest for the president’s seat in the 2022 general elections.