Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WILL THE REAL EVANS KIDERO PLEASE STAND UP?

Once in a while a man or a woman from unlikely quarters storms into Kenya's political scene and causes ripples that upset the status quo.

Barely two years ago, the name Evans Kidero was unknown to a majority of Kenyans. This is a man who spent his life in corporate boardrooms making serious business decisions on behalf of some of the country's topmost companies. He was a straight-jacket, dark-suited technocrat with no obvious political inclinations.

Born in the run-down Majengo neighbouhood of Nairobi, Kidero had an opportunity of a good education most of his contemporaries did not have. He went to the University of Nairobi and excelled. Then he joined the corporate world and became successful both professionally and financially as a senior officer in the highly competitive SmithKline Beecham Healthcare International and as chief executive officer of the giant Mumias Sugar Company and the quick-paced Nation Media Group. Everywhere he went he left an indelible mark of high achievement.

Then he found he had no farther to go in the private sector, and decided, for good measure, to join politics. He emerged at a time when a new constitution offered something no corporate organisation could offer: the flashy position of chief executive of more than three million Nairobians. His entry into the public service was dramatic. Never before had a distinguished business outsider successfully managed to break into the mucky waters of Kenyan politics.

Jimnah Mbaru, the celebrated former chairman of the Kenya Stock Exchange tried more than once but failed. With his academic and professional CV that is said to run into 37 pages, and with all his money, Mbaru could not break into Nairobi politics. He left the scene humiliated and dejected.

Not so Kidero. He fought hard against such street fighters as Ferdinand Waititu and emerged a winner. Many however attribute his victory not to his political prowess and support from the popular ODM party but to Waititu's cantankerous ways and damaged image.

It's been more than a year since Kidero entered City Hall. The question that needs an answer is whether this whiz kid has made any mark in changing the way the city functions. Corruption is still the capital's number one enemy. Crime has not abated and takes place within the eye-shot of his own office in the central business district. Garbage collection remains a challenge. Slums continue to choke the city, and the stench of garbage and human waste is overbearing in most highly populated sections of Nairobi.

So, does it mean Kidero has failed? Perhaps not. But the magic that worked for him in the corporate world seems impotent in city hall. Kidero has grand plans to transform the city and make it work. But his plans have remained just that. I am excited about his plans to de-congest the city. I am overwhelmed by his plans to introduce a city transport system, and to make the city safer and more livable. But until I see results, Kidero's performance remains average.

Another thing. We must give our Governor space to perform. The Shebeshes and Sonkos of this world must give way. On the other hand, Kidero himself must stop stirring trouble in far flung counties. He was elected by Nairobians and must concentrate on matters of the Nairobi county. He has no business poking his nose in Nyanza politics even though that is where he originally came from?

Governor Kidero must remember he has less than four years to deliver goods to the city residents. Otherwise, he will join the long list of one-term Governors we expect to see come 2017.

And that is my say.