Graft, poverty, jobs headline inaugural speeches as governors are sworn in

Nairobi residents cheer during the swearing-in ceremony of Governor Johnson Sakaja.

Nairobi residents cheer during the swearing-in ceremony of Governor Johnson Sakaja at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre on August 25, 2022.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The 45 include 26 first-term governors, 11 incumbents and eight making a comeback after five years in the political cold.
  • Kakamega and Mombasa counties will elect their governors on Monday after elections there were postponed due to ballot paper mix-ups.
  • In the Rift Valley, hunger, drought, insecurity, health and infrastructure featured prominently in inauguration speeches.

Governors yesterday promised accelerated service delivery, enhanced fight against corruption, as well as ensuring the provision of water, health, and agriculture services as they were sworn into office after the gruelling August 9 General Election.

The 45 governors — who took the oath of office in simultaneous ceremonies between 10 am and 2 pm — include 26 first-term governors, 11 incumbents and eight making a comeback after five years in the political cold.

Kakamega and Mombasa counties will elect their governors on Monday after elections there were postponed due to ballot paper mix-ups.

In the Rift Valley, hunger, drought, insecurity, health and infrastructure featured prominently in inauguration speeches.

Governors Susan Kihika (Nakuru), Jonathan Bii (Uasin Gishu), Patrick Ntutu (Narok), George Natembeya (Trans Nzoia), Wisley Rotich (Elgeyo Marakwet), Jonathan Lelelit (Samburu ), Jeremiah Lomorukai (Turkana) and Eric Mutai (Kericho) were sworn in for their first time.

Nandi’s Stephen Sang, Baringo’s Benjamin Cheboi, West Pokot’s Simon Kachapin, and Bomet’s Prof Hillary Barchok took the oath for their second terms.

In Bomet, Prof Barchok, who beat ex-governor Isaac Ruto, said he would serve all without favour.

In Kericho, Dr Mutai promised talks with multinational tea companies on the use of tea plucking machines.


In Nakuru, Ms Kihika promised to revamp agriculture, upgrade infrastructure, create employment, provide clean water, build markets, improve access to quality health care services and boost tourism.

Nakuru County Governor Susan Kihika is sworn into office

Nakuru County Governor Susan Kihika is sworn into office by Justice Weldon Korir at Nakuru ASK Show Ground in Nakuru City on August 25, 2022.

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

Mr Bii highlighted his 10-pillar agenda on health, infrastructure development, and trade to transform the economic fortunes of the locals.

In Elgeyo Marakwet, Mr Rotich indicated a focus on agriculture, health, security and tourism.

He pledged to push for the reinstatement of police reservists. In Baringo, insecurity dominated the speeches during the inauguration of Governor Cheboi and his deputy Charles Kipng’ok.

Mr Natembeya assured all ethnic groups living in Trans Nzoia of equal representation in his administration in terms of employment opportunities and resource allocation and distribution.

In Turkana, Mr Lomorukai and his deputy, Dr John Erus, pledged to develop the marginalised county.

In West Pokot, Mr Kachapin touted the bottom-up economic approach, saying, his administration will establish a “hustlers’ fund” and promote cultural tourism.

In Nandi, Mr Sang said he will focus on improving agriculture and expanding and equipping health facilities.

In Mt Kenya, newcomers Kawira Mwangaza (Meru), Cecily Mbarire (Embu), Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu), Kiarie Badilisha (Nyandarua), and Irungu Kang’ata (Murang’a) vowed radical changes in service delivery and development.

Second-term governors Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi), Joshua Irungu (Laikipia), Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga), and Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri) pledged to improve on their first-term achievements by learning from their past mistakes and building on their strengths.

Ms Mwangaza and her deputy Isaac M’Ethingia vowed to audit the county’s finances and human resources before embarking on their agenda.

Ms Mwangaza pledged to establish an annual ward fund, provide water to every homestead, and establish functional sub-county offices to devolve services and enhance health services.

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza takes oath of office

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza takes oath of office. Looking on is Justice Lucy Njuguna.

Photo credit: David Muchui | Nation Media Group

She also promised to find markets for local produce, initiate value addition for agricultural produce, improve roads, fund small businesses, maintain urban centres, and establish a Sh250 million bursary fund for needy students.

Ms Mbarire promised to “right the wrongs committed by former Governor Martin Wambora” during his 10-year reign.

She vowed to undertake a forensic audit of Sh2.2 billion in pending bills left behind by Mr Wambora’s administration.

In Murang’a, Dr Kang’ata said he was committed to improving agriculture, and promised to battle cartels in the public health sector that steal medicines and commercialise services.

In Nyandarua, Dr Badilisha was sworn-in in the absence of outgoing Governor Francis Kimemia.

Dr Badilisha promised an all-inclusive government to help implement his development agenda.

Health reforms

In Laikipia, Governor Joshua Irungu announced far-reaching reforms in the health department, which he said would be implemented in the next one week.

Mr Irungu, who made a comeback after being defeated in 2017, said 61 doctors sacked by his predecessor would be rehired from September 1.

He paraded some of the medical specialists at Nanyuki Municipal Stadium, where he had earlier taken the oath of office presided over by Justice Florence Muchemi.

“I know patients have been suffering since I left office in 2017. From today henceforth, my attention will focus on the health sector. You can be sure in the next one week, we shall have adequate drugs and medical specialists,” Mr Irungu told a cheering crowd.

In Tharaka Nithi, Mr Muthomi Njuki and his deputy Wilson Nyaga promised to work with all elected leaders and other stakeholders to enhance services.

In Kirinyaga, Ms Waiguru pledged to improve the health sector in her second term. She vowed to upgrade the Kimbimbi and Kianyaga hospitals to Level Four health facilities.

In Nyeri, Mr Kahiga described his predecessor, Dr Wahome Gakuru, who died in a car accident in November 2017, as his hero.

Justice James Wakiaga administers oath of office

Justice James Wakiaga administers the oath of office to Governor Mutahi Kahiga in Nyeri town on August 25, 2022.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

“Dr Gakuru became the pacesetter for our first administration that we set up together. He [was] a beacon of light and the yardstick from which we measure progress,” Mr Kahiga told thousands of residents when he was sworn in at t Asian Quarters grounds in Nyeri town.

Also present were Deputy President-elect Rigathi Gachagua and other county leaders elected from the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party.

Unity and development

In the Coast region, Governors Dhado Godhana (Tana River), Andrew Mwadime (Taita Taveta), Issa Timamy (Lamu), Gideon Mung’aro (Kilifi), and Fatuma Achani (Kwale) promised to unite residents after the divisive elections, which saw the devolved units split politically.

The new county bosses further pledged to prioritise agriculture, water access, infrastructure, jobs for the youth and the fight against corruption in the next five years.

Ms Achani made history as the first Muslim female governor at the Coast. Ms Achani, who served as deputy governor under Mr Salim Mvurya, pledged to prioritise the development of the county.

“Most people believe a woman, especially from a community like mine, cannot lead. But I am a good example and an inspiration to many girls that they can be leaders. I know I have been in leadership before but I commit to making more improvements, especially bursary allocations,” said Ms Achani.

Mr Godhana announced plans to dismiss some officers in the county administration, saying his first term had been marred with shameful incidents that he will not allow to recur.

“I was summoned by the Senate and to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission headquarters many times because some people failed to take their responsibilities seriously. While some officials worked hard to deliver on our manifesto in the first term, some were not delivering as per their contracts but instead rode on the backs of others,” said the governor.

In Taita Taveta, former Governor Granton Samboja skipped the inauguration of his successor, Mr Mwadime, in a packed event that brought together all elected and former leaders in the county.

Mr Mwadime said all corrupt officials will be prosecuted. 

In Lamu, Mr Timamy, who had lost to Mr Fahim Twaha in 2017, assured the residents that the installation of wireless internet in some towns will start next week.

Mr Timamy said residents of major urban centres such as Lamu Old Town, Mpeketoni, Witu, and Faza will enjoy internet services free of charge. 

In Kilifi, Mr Mung’aro pledged to improve infrastructure, education, health, and access to clean water. He said he would form an advisory committee to help guide the county on development matters.

He vowed to partner with the business community to come up with strategies to revive the country's economy and tourism which have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fighting graft

In Nyanza, unity calls among county leaders and a change of mindset to deliver to the people in the region that has little to show for 10 years of devolution, dominated speeches during the swearing-in of the new governors.

Most governors also gave priority to the fight against corruption and employment of the youth as the quick fixes needed to improve the lives of the people in Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga’s strongholds.

In Siaya, Governor James Orengo and his deputy William Oduol vowed to place women’s interests at the centre of their administration moments after they took the oath of office.

Siaya Governor James Orengo

Siaya Governor James Orengo takes the oath of office at KMTC grounds in Siaya on August 25, 2022.

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

Mr Orengo told off critics who doubted his ability to clinch the gubernatorial seat and promised not to disappoint his constituents.

“To my Siaya people, you have given myself and Oduol a great responsibility by voting for us, now the responsibility is ours. I have come a long way from when I was an MP in the 1980s and now I am here. I will not let the trust you have bestowed on me go in vain. I will not disappoint you,” said Mr Orengo. The governor vowed to ensure that appointments are open and competitive.

Mr Oduol said: “Give us the freedom to appoint competent people in our administration so that they deliver services as per their mandate. If you are an existing staff who is doing his or her job diligently, you have nothing to worry about.”

In Kisumu County, Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o promised to fulfil his manifesto launched in August.

“The campaigns are over. It is now time to work. Let us work together and build Kisumu because this county is bigger than an individual,” said Prof Nyong’o.

In Homa Bay, Ms Gladys Wanga and her running mate Oyugi Magwanga were sworn in office at the county stadium in an event officiated by Justice Asenath Ongeri and witnessed by Azimio presidential running mate Martha Karua, among other leaders.

Ms Wanga promised to empower youth, women and persons with disability by setting aside 30 per cent of procurement for them.

“We will include all our campaign pledges in the county integrated development plan. We will ensure public participation is conducted in various development projects,” Ms Wanga said.

In Kisii, former Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati was sworn in as the governor, with the new county chief singling out corruption in the health sector as an area of critical focus.

“Those who have looted public money are in for a rude shock,” he said. In Nyamira, Governor Amos Nyaribo and his deputy James Gesami were sworn into office at Nyamira Primary School grounds. The oaths were administered by Lady Justice Roselyn Oigo of the Kisii High Court.

Mr Nyaribo, who took over following the death of Mr John Nyagarama in 2020, promised even more projects and better services in his administration. 

In Western, Governors Wilbur Ottichilo (Vihiga), Paul Otuoma (Busia), and Ken Lusaka (Bungoma) promised to work together to revive the region’s economy.

Dr Ottichilo promised to focus on health services and the provision of water and sanitation services.

He further vowed to institute a new governance structure.

Dr Otuoma promised to mobilise resources to ensure that all public hospitals in the county are fully equipped and have enough drugs within his first 100 days in office.

To ensure food security, Dr Otuoma said his administration will enhance extension services to farmers across the county to ensure that they produce enough to feed themselves and earn a living.

Dr Otuoma promised that his government will develop and implement a master plan for the construction of water supply and sanitation systems.

In Bungoma, Mr Lusaka promised to deliver on all his campaign pledges: “I will do whatever I can to ensure that I fulfil [the pledges].” 

Reporting by Fred Kibor, Mercy Koskei, Florah Koech, Stanley Kimuge, Waikwa Maina, Geoffrey Ondieki, Vitalis Kimutai, Robert Kiplagat, Oscar Kakai, Sammy Lutta, Gerald Bwisa, Tom Matoke, Stephen Odour, Kalume Kazungu, Siago Cece, Lucy Mkanyika, Maureen Ongala, David Muchui, Alex Njeru, Charles Wanyoro, George Munene, Steve Njuguna, Mwangi Muiruri, James Murimi, Mwangi Ndirangu, Rushdie Oudia, Elizabeth Ojina, George Odiwuor, Benson Ayienda, Wycliffe Nyaberi, Derick Luvega, Okong'o Oduya and Brian Ojamaa