Kenya: I'm Into Servant Leadership, Not Politics -Kananu

22 January 2021

Ann Kananu was thrown into national limelight after former Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko on January 6, 2020 nominated her as his deputy governor.

Prior to her nomination, Ms Kananu maintained a low profile as a senior county official and was little known in Nairobi leave alone nationally.

At the time, she was the Nairobi County Chief Officer for Disaster Management and Coordination, a position she held for the last two years.

However, her nomination to the deputy governor position hit a hurdle after the High Court barred her vetting by the County Assembly pending the hearing and determination of petitions filed in court.

The petitioners had argued that Mr Sonko had violated court orders by making the nomination since at the time, the Anti-Corruption Court had barred him from accessing office after he was charged with graft.

It was not until on Friday morning that the High Court dismissed two petitions seeking to block her vetting paving the way for her vetting and swearing in as the deputy governor.

'Not a politician'

Shortly after the court ruling, Ms Kananu was in the County Assembly chambers for vetting by the panel.

And in a span of only about five hours, Kananu was quickly elevated from position of chief officer to Nairobi's second in command.

This perhaps made her among the first holders of the position to be vetted and sworn into office on the same day.

Yesterday, Ms Kananu took over the reins at City Hall from Benson Mutura who has been the acting governor.

Mr Mutura, who is also Nairobi County Assembly Speaker, on Monday officially handed over the instruments of power to Ms Kananu.

He said since Nairobi now has a substantive Deputy Governor in office, he has relinquished his acting governor capacity and resumes his full duties as Speaker.

Speaking during the event, Ms Kananu refused to be drawn into politics saying only the Assumption of Office Committee is currently working on the process of her possible assumption into the governor's office, a thing that will be communicated to the public.

"I am not a politician, and I will not start being one. I'm focused on bringing a new spirit of cooperation, collaboration, partnership and mutual respect with all organs of government. Nairobi is now back on course," she said.

On Friday after being sworn-in as Deputy Governor, Ms Kananu promised to work with Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS) boss General Mohammed Badi to enhance the welfare of Nairobians.

She affirmed her commitment to serve the people of Nairobi with dedication, discipline and integrity.

"I am committed to work and cooperate closely with NMS Director Badi and his team to ensure the transferred functions are further strengthened and supported in order to meet the aspirations of the people of Nairobi," she said.

Her goals

The DG added that one of her goals will be creating a conducive working environment with the Members of the County Assembly.

Nairobi County has been without a deputy governor following the resignation of Mr Polycarp Igathe in January 2018 on grounds that he failed to earn the trust of Mr Sonko to enable him work at the county.

Ms Kananu boasts of a checkered career in the private sector before she joined Nairobi County as chief officer in charge of the county's Disaster Management and Coordination docket.

She previously served as a security supervisor in charge of quality control and training at the Kenya Airports Authority for 13 years.

She also previously worked as a personal assistant at H. Mogambi & Co Advocates as well as Mokir Enterprises, which was a Safaricom Consultancy firm responsible for handling customer services.

The DG also previously served as a switchboard operator at the Kenya College of Communications Technology.

Ms Kananu holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminology and Security Management from Dedan Kimathi University obtained in 2016.

She also holds a Diploma in Criminology and Security Management from St. Paul's University undertaken in 2013.The deputy governor also holds a certificate in Human Resource Management and Public Relations at University of Nairobi.

She is also trained in disaster management and security as well as active shooting and hostage training. Ms Kananu cleared her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education at Our Lady of Mercy High School in 1999.

She was married to Philip Njiru Muthathai who died in January 2019 following a road accident. Before his untimely death, Mr Muthathia was working for National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Kiambu branch.

No smooth ride

The initial cordial relationship that existed between former governor Sonko and Ms Kananu no longer exists with the deputy governor recently accusing the impeached former county chief of sponsoring a petition to block her from ascending to office.

Ms Kananu, in her response to a case that had been filed by activist Okiya Omtatah seeking to block her vetting, claimed the former governor upon nominating her, sponsored Peter Agoro to file a case challenging her nomination on grounds that he (Sonko) had been charged with graft and barred from accessing the office.

In the affidavit filed at the High Court, Ms Kananu accused Sonko of ill motive, saying he feared that he would be kicked out once she was appointed to deputise him.

"With ill motives, Sonko knew that once I assumed office as the deputy governor of Nairobi, he was easily and likely to be impeached by the assembly. On January 13, 2020, he sponsored petition No 1 of 2020 seeking orders to restrain the assembly from vetting me for appointment as the deputy governor," she said.

Ms Kananu's ascending to the position of governor could, however, not be a smooth ride after the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) on Monday went to court seeking to block her from becoming the new Nairobi Governor saying her hurried swearing in was unconstitutional.

LSK in a petition filed in court claimed her swearing-in last Friday is a calculated political move to avoid a by-election in Nairobi.

"This act undermines the right of the people of Nairobi to elect a Governor as Deputy Governor of their choice. It also sets a dangerous precedent in the application of the rule of law," LSK says in the petition.

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