‘Loyalty is everything’: Elijah Obebo’s new pledge in Simba Arati deputy role after Robert Monda ouster

Elijah Julius Obebo

Kisii County Deputy Governor nominee Elijah Julius Obebo during an interview with the Nation at his Public Service Board offices on June 14, 2024. 

Photo credit: Ruth Mbula | Nation Media Group

The road now seems clear for the Kisii County Deputy Governor designate Elijah Julius Obebo to assume office after a High Court in Nyamira set aside conservatory orders that were barring him from occupying the office.

Mr Obebo has since stressed that he will be loyal to his boss Governor Simba Arati as that is what had missed, among other issues, in his erstwhile deputy.

The former Deputy Governor Dr Robert Monda, was in March this year impeached by the Senate after a similar exercise by the Kisii County Assembly.

But who is this man Mr Obebo now poised to replace Dr Monda?

He hails from Masongo Location in Nyaribari Chache Constituency; and is an alumnus of Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology where he studied his Master of Business Administration (MBA). He has also done several other courses.

Mr Obebo, 60, retired from the civil service mid-last year after accumulating over 33 years of work experience as a Supply Chain Management Specialist.

 He is currently serving as the chairman of the Kisii County Public Service Board (CPSB) after his appointment last November. 

He started off in the 1990s in the office of the president and rose through the ranks to the level of director, always being privileged to serve in various ministries.

Supply Chain Management

Some of the ministries he served in include Sports and Youth Affairs, Home Affairs, Justice, Mining, ICT, Water, Agriculture and the State Law Office.

He has always worked in the Supply Chain Management department.

His appointment to the position of Deputy Governor was a surprise to many, as he had barely settled in office as the Chairman of the Kisii County Public Service Board when Governor Arati forwarded his name to the Kisii County Assembly for approval.

The Assembly has already vetted him in anticipation of his swearing-in.

The Nation had a conversation with Mr Obebo who said that he is banking on his experience as a civil servant and his interpersonal skills to settle and perform in his  duties.

 “I am able to work with people, manage them well and hear their challenges. I cherish interpersonal relationships and intend to perfect it even better,” he said.

Despite having no experience in politics, Mr Obebo submits that his work in the ministries enabled him to interact with politicians.

As such, he believes that he will not endure trouble working with them.

If anything, he said, he has already familiarised himself with most of the elected leaders in Kisii, especially MCAs and believes that their goodwill which he will be keen not to disrespect, is vital in taking the county forward. His will be an open-door policy, he said.

He affirmed that he will be loyal to his boss, Governor Arati, as he has no reason to antagonise him.

“Loyalty is everything in politics. Mine is to be his dependable principal assistant. To carry the mission of my boss and support him by doing the duties as assigned and as per the requirement of the constitution,” he said.

He went on: “As a nominee for DG, I know it is a different ball game. With my knowledge and interaction with politicians, I believe that I should be able to move on (once sworn in)”.

The 60-year-old emphasised that his demeanour as a government worker has taught him to listen, comprehend and appreciate people.

His primary objective for accepting Mr Arati’s appointment is to assist him (the governor) realise what he promised the electorate who overwhelmingly voted for him.

Unlike deputy governors who are antagonising their bosses, Mr Obebo noted that at his age, he has outgrown the insatiable appetite for some of the things that are at the centre of the struggles.

“I wouldn’t want at any given time to antagonise my boss. I have outlived the insatiable appetite for so many things that people look for. I will consult widely,” he said.

During his short stint at the CPSB, Mr Obebo notes that he has come to understand what ails Kisii County and which he will be committed to helping Mr Arati resolve.

One key issue is the bloated wage bill.

Mr Obebo told the Nation that Kisii County has about 6,000 members of staff, against the expected optimum of 4,000.

The addition of about 2,000 staff above the requirement, a huge burden on the wage bill and a strain on the development percentage of the budget, a problem that was inherited from the previous administration.

There also exist people on the payroll who were unprocedurally employed or have questionable trails of qualifications.

Once he helps Mr Arati restore the dignity of the payroll, Mr Obebo believes that more resources will be diverted towards development.

In the next five years, the DG designate will confirm that Governor Arati has delivered on his manifesto, he said.

“The administration of Governor Arati has now all systems go. In the next five years, people will say that it is Arati and nobody else. He is one man who has taken corruption by the horns and I know that the job will be done well,” said Mr Obebo.

He boasts of having been able to lead the conversion of over 700 Early Childhood Development teachers from contracts to permanent and pensionable terms. 

His intention is to help his boss bring staff who are fraudulently on the payroll to justice.

It is two months since his appointment as DG and he says that the anxiety to assume the office has had its place.

“Good things create anxiety and inspire. I am thankful for the consideration as it was a pleasant surprise,” he said.

 As the wait continues, Mr Obebo says that he will try and relax as he already has his in-tray full as the chair of the CPSB.

 “Loyalty. Loyalty to the boss is everything,” he emphasised. 

On Thursday, June 13, Nyamira High Court Judge Wilfrida Okwany set aside conservatory orders barring the senate from gazetting former Kisii Deputy Governor Robert Monda’s impeachment.

 The Senate can now gazette the impeachment, paving the way for the swearing-in of a new Deputy Governor in Kisii-Mr Obebo.