Governor admits clan politics swayed him to recruit 33 chief officers

Mandera chief officers

A section of the 33 chief officers that were sworn into office on March 13, 2023. A petition blocking their appointment was withdrawn allowing them to take over offices. 

Photo credit: Manase Otsialo I Nation Media Group

The controversially selected 33 Mandera chief officers have been sworn in, making the county have the highest number of department accounting officers.

The 33 CCOs are spread in the county government’s 10 ministries, with the Department of Public Service, Administration, Devolved Units and Community Cohesion having 10 chief officers.

Mandera tops the counties with a high number of chief officers, closely followed by Isiolo with 31 officers.

While making his comments immediately after a short ceremony at a Mandera hotel on Monday, Governor Mohamed Adan Khalif, revealed that a total Sh82 million had been spent on litigation within four months.

“We have spent Sh82 million on this petition alone. This amount could have been used to do other things in this county. Let us talk to our youths to stop dragging the county government to court on every issue,” he said.

While he admitted being pushed by clan elders in expanding his administration, Mr Khalif warned that none of the CCOs would be shielded by their family when being fired for wrong doing.

“Your family lobbied for you and brought you to us. You belong to the county government and it is now up to you to stay in or leave because I will not entertain laxity,” he said.

Mr Khalif added: “Forget about your clan and family and do not allow your office to be seen to belong to a family.”

Due to political pressure from the locally practised negotiated democracy where political positions are divided along clan lines, Governor Khalif was forced to increase the chief officers from 28 to 33 to accommodate those that felt left out.

This attracted at least four petitions and at some point, the process of vetting and approving the nominees was stopped by the High Court.

“We shall not be replacing any chief officer position left vacant because we already have enough. We shall only be restructuring the department,” he said in comments seemingly aiming at clan elders.

Return home

The county boss said he wanted every staff on the ground, and warned those who live outside the county to return home.

“Most of you live in Nairobi, but now you have no choice but to come and work for the people of Mandera. Make arrangements on how you will reside in Mandera,” he said.

He said he will not accept a briefcase government where senior officers operate from Nairobi and other towns far away from Mandera.

He further revealed that his administration was spending Sh350 million on salaries alone every month. He wants the amount to circulate in Mandera.

“We want you to stay in Mandera so that all these monies can circulate locally and support our local economy,” he said.

Dr Maalim Ali, the deputy governor said the CCOs were not picked accidently but went through due process and merit, ability and experience placed them above the rest.

“Focus on delivering services and keep off corruption incidents,” Dr Ali said.

Revealing that the positions were about rewarding political supporters and financiers, Dr Ali said together with chosen chief officers had campaigned together in the last elections.

“We campaigned with you and walked with you in the trenches during campaigns. We have to deliver our political promises to the people of Mandera,” he said.

The process of hiring county chief officers was stopped in November last year after several petitions were filed against the process.

In a petition filed by Mr Abdullahi Mohamed Ahmed alias Basho Alas Ismature, the appointment of the 33 chief officers was questioned.

"The national government appointed 51 principal secretaries for the whole country, how can Mandera, the second poorest county, have 33 county chief officers?" he asked.

Mr Ahmed had accused the Mandera County Public Service Board of failing to conduct competitive recruitment in conformity with the Constitution and other statutory laws.

On September 26, the board advertised 28 vacancies for the position of chief officers for various departments, and on October 26, 153 candidates were shortlisted.

On November 14, the assembly clerk shortlisted 33 nominees for interviews to start on November 24.

Mr Ahmed said in his petition that it was evident that the nominations did not take into account ethnic balance, the two-thirds gender principle, and the interests of people with disabilities and the youth.

The four petitioners withdraw the case, leading to the swearing-in of the 33 chief officers.


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