Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa has requested the county assembly to enact legislation to establish the Office of the County Governor’s Spouse.
Mr Barasa said his administration recognised the role of a governor’s spouse in supporting the implementation of key development initiatives.
Like his predecessor, Wycliffe Oparanya, Mr Barasa wants to carve a niche for his wife, Prof Janet Kassily Barasa, to complement his development agenda.
Prof Kassily is a lecturer at Masinde Muliro University.
Thanking voters for electing her husband, she said that besides her academic work, issues affecting women were close to her heart.
She said she will champion women’s issues alongside others that affect residents.
The County First Ladies Association (CFLA) brings together the spouses of male county chiefs.
County first ladies are involved in advocacy, partnerships and networking in communities in their regions under the CFLA.
Governor Barasa has a six-point agenda for the next five years, including health, food security, wealth creation, education (ECDE and county polytechnics), social development and good governance.
He hopes to draw on the support of his wife to push through his development agenda.
Proposing the first lady’s office, Mr Barasa said "there is no law that formally establishes the Office of the County Governor’s Spouse. Article 185 (2) of the Constitution … gives the county assembly power to make any laws that are necessary for the effective performance of the functions and exercises of the powers of a county government under the Fourth Schedule”.
“Article 235 (1) (a) provides for the establishing and abolishing of offices in [the] county government,” he said.
“In this regard, therefore, I call upon this honourable House to consider and fast-track the enactment of … legislation that will establish the Office of the Governor’s Spouse in order to provide for an institutional and legal framework to promote transparency and accountability in [that office].”
Former Kakamega First Lady Priscilla Oparanya was vocal in championing gender-related issues and lobbying the county government to help improve the livelihoods of vulnerable families.
For 10 years, Mrs Oparanya spearheaded campaigns to create awareness on gender-based violence and ensure victims received the support and protection they needed as their cases were investigated
One of Mr Barasa’s key projects is providing clean water to rural homesteads in all the county’s 12 sub-counties.
He has said he will push the two water firms in the county – Kakamega County Urban Water and Sanitation Company (KACUWASCO) and the Kakamega Rural Water and Sanitation Company (KACRWASCO) – to offer more efficient services to residents.
He has also pledged to establish an economic empowerment programme by setting up a motorbike assembly plant in Kakamega town and creating a savings and credit cooperative society to run three satellite shops dealing in spare parts for boda boda operators.