Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga has extended an olive branch to his embattled Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu, who sued him claiming he had withheld her salary.
In his reconciliation message, he urged Dr Karugu to join him in burying the hatchet for the sake of the county.
Speaking at the burial of Dr Karugu’s mother on Friday, Mr Kahiga also noted that the duo’s mothers were friends and they needed to honour them.
“In honour of our mother that we are laying to rest today, it is time we bury our issues and forget it, so that we can move forward,” he said.
Jacinta Karugu was buried in Chaka, Nyeri County. The ceremony was also attended by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Cabinet secretaries Betty Maina and Joe Mucheru.
Others present were governors Ann Kananu (Nairobi), Anyang’ Nyongo (Kisumu), Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru) and Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu) and several MPs and other local leaders.
Mr Odinga appeared to wade into the feud between Mr Kahiga and Dr Karugu when he asked the county boss to respect her.
"Let us empower women and give them a chance. When you have a woman as a deputy governor, let her work…. We need to respect women as equal parts of our society," the ODM leader said.
But even as their rivalry deepens, Mr Kahiga said he was ready to forgive and forget all that had transpired between them.
“I am ready to let go and forget about all this so that we can grow our Nyeri together,” he said.
But Dr Karugu appeared to pour cold water on the proposed truce, saying she had learnt to live with tribulations from the Kahiga administration.
“Even as I go through a lot of tribulations in the county government, I still smile because my mom taught me not to carry my pain on my face. She told me to stay clear of fighting Kahiga. She asked me to give him his time, mine will come,” Dr Karugu said.
Dr Karugu is the third person to hold the deputy governor’s position after Mr Kahiga was elevated to governor following the death of Wahome Gakuru in a road accident four years ago.
The two have been at loggerheads for years, with their feud casting a spotlight on the fraught working relationships between some county bosses and their deputies.
At the beginning of 2020, he said he regretted appointing her as his DG and accused her of failing to show up for work.
Their dispute spilled over into the courts when she sued him, saying that she last received her salary of Sh682,250 in November 2019.
She also said she had not received her fuel and house allowances since June of that year. She maintained that her boss had declined to assign her any work.
The case is still pending in court.