Gladys Wanga and George Natembeya

Homa Bay County Governor Gladys Wanga (left) and Trans Nzoia County Governor George Natembeya.

| Lucy Wanjiru & Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Natembeya, Wanga top of the pile in performance ranking

What you need to know:

  • The survey, dubbed; “The CountyTrak Performance Index”, was conducted between July and September.

  • Poll, which ranked 25 top performing governors, provided citizens’ scorecards of their county governors.

Trans Nzoia Governor George Natembeya and his Homa Bay counterpart Gladys Wanga are the best performing county bosses in a list dominated by newcomers, a new poll has shown.

The survey by Infotrak Research and Consulting placed the two first-term governors top of the pile with both recording a performance rating of 70 per cent.

They are followed by West Pokot’s Simon Kachapin, a repeat governor serving his last term, who ranked third with a rating of 67 per cent.

Four other first-term governors — Simba Arati (Kisii), Irungu Kang’ata (Murang’a), Jeremiah Lomorukai (Turkana) and Makueni’s Mutula Kilonzo — tied for fourth place with a performance rating of 64 per cent.

Elgeyo-Marakwet Governor Wisley Rotich, embattled Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza and Kitui’s Julius Malombe round off the top 10 with a rating of 63 per cent.

The survey, dubbed; “The CountyTrak Performance Index”, was conducted between July and September.

The poll, which ranked 25 top performing governors, provided citizens’ scorecards of their county governors.

Ms Wanga is the most improved governor, having made great strides to pull her county from position 45 in 2020 to the first position in 2023.

She is followed by Mr Natembeya, who moved Trans Nzoia 41 places from position 42 to first position during the period under review.

Photo credit: Nation Media Group

While the Meru MCAs found Ms Mwangaza unfit to lead, the data shows residents appreciate her leadership as she also got a favourable rating. She ranked position eight and is the second-best female governor, followed by Ms Cecily Mbarire of Embu, Ms Wavinya Ndeti of Machakos and Ms Anne Waiguru of Kirinyaga.

Ms Mwangaza was third in the most improved category, boosting her county’s ranking from position 38 in 2020 to position eight despite her current tribulations.

Other counties whose leaders have elevated their status to the most improved position include Samburu and Kitui, having risen from positions 46 and 29 to 17 and 8 respectively.

Contrasting the survey with the one on the status of county governments, only Homa Bay, West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet counties — ranked fifth, first and second respectively —managed to be in the top 10 of county governments that respondents felt are now being managed better than the previous administration.

Makueni, Trans Nzoia, Meru, Kisii, Kitui, and Turkana were the only ones to make it into the top 25 most improved county governments, with Murang’a, which had its governor in position four of best performing governors, missing out.

The import of the contrasting data could be down to the political charm of the county bosses as well as political inclinations earning them favour in the eyes of the respondents.

The Infotrak poll shows that second-term governors who did not lose elections have had an underwhelming performance. Of the five, only two — Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu) and Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi) —had a score of above 60 per cent.

They are followed by Kirinyaga’s Waiguru and Mutahi Kahiga of Nyeri with a rating of 59 per cent, while Vihiga’s Wilber Ottichilo closes the top five with a rating of 56 per cent.

Overall, however, governors Njuki and Nyong’o are ranked 13th alongside Mandera’s Mohamed Khalif and Ms Ndeti of Machakos.

Governor Njuki seems to have set himself ahead of the pack with projects touching directly on the needs of the residents in three key thematic areas — health, agriculture and education — which, according to the Infotrak index, rate him highly and second amongst second-term governors.

For two years in a row, Tharaka Nithi County has been ranked best in healthcare management that offers a clear referral from the smallest unit of treatment, that is at home through the community health promoters to the Level Five hospital.

“We have ensured that our community health promoters are well facilitated in all our 15 wards so as to get data that we use in the management of hospitals as well as plan for medicine for hospitals and equipment needed,” said Governor Njuki.

Additionally, the data shows that governors who lost in their second term and got another chance in the last elections tend to do better.

Governor Kachapin is the best ranked repeat governor and is also ranked third best performing governor in the country.

Kitui residents also feel confident about their governor, Mr Malombe, who is ranked position eight and among the best performing.

Narok’s Patrick Ole Ntutu and Ms Mbarire (Embu) are ranked 11th with a rating of 62 per cent. 

Mr Jonathan Leleliit (Samburu), Ms Waiguru (Kirinyaga) and Mr Kahiga (Nyeri) are tied at position 17 with a score of 59 per cent.

Bungoma’s Ken Lusaka is ranked at position 20 with a rating of 58 per cent followed by Mr Abdulswamad Nassir of Mombasa and Kilifi’s Gideon Mung’aro, both with a score of 57 per cent.

Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii, Mr Ottichillo (Vihiga), Mr Fernandes Barasa (Kakamega) and Mr Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi) round off the top 25 with a rating of 56 per cent.

Interestingly, Embu is placed highly (position four) in the status of the county ranking together with Bomet, Kericho, Laikipia and Kajiado. These counties do not have their governors in the top 25 performers.

Other counties to have cracked the top 25 while their governors have missed out in the corresponding survey are Garissa, Siaya and Nyandarua pointing to the county bosses seemingly taking over a county government low on performance.

According to the poll, Governor Kachapin leads Mr Malombe and Mr Lusaka in the repeat governors’ category.

“Governors from the Rift Valley generally performed better. I believe that they fully understand the concept of devolution or that their popularly elected leaders can breathe life into the concept of devolution,” said Ms Angela Ambitho, Infotrak’s director, when releasing the data.

“Governors who did well are likely to be endearing themselves to the citizens using programmes that they need and aptly communicating such programmes or they have special projects in line with the citizens’ needs which may yield positive feedback,” she added.

The survey had an overall sample of 58,748 where each county was treated as an individual universe and assigned a cluster sample ranging between 619 and 3,400 respondents guided by the population and number of wards in the respective counties.

The first survey was conducted between July and August 2023 involving 36,200 participants while the second one involved 22,500 participants and was conducted to boost sample size so that each sub-county has at least 200 respondents.

The sampling frames were designed using population proportionate to size guided by census data and catered for demographics such as age and gender.

Data was collected through computer assisted telephone interviews and analysed using SPSS with a margin of error of between +/-2.2 and +/-4. The questionnaires were structured using 1-10 Likert scale where 1 was very poor and 10 was excellent with the residents asked to rate their governors’ performance based on the scale.

"We asked respondents across the counties a common question: How would you rate the overall performance of your county leader? To which the opinions were as varied as they were unique," explained Ms Ambitho.

The average rating by all respondents from each county determined the final governor rating.

Of note is that the top performing governor, Ms Wanga of Homa Bay, jumped to her number by 44 steps compared to the last cycle where Homa Bay County was ranked position 45. It is the most improved county in the latest research.

Apart from Governor Wanga’s backyard, other counties whose leaders have elevated their status to the most improved position include; Trans Nzoia, Meru, Samburu and Kitui counties in that order, for the top five positions.

In the last cycle, the governor of Kiambu County was the worst performing, but this has changed in the latest data shared by Infotrak. 

The current governor moved up by 18 positions and is currently sixth most improved Governor at number 29. The county also improved to position 24 based on the data released on Monday.

Other most improved governors in the top ten category were from Embu, Murang’a, Taita Taveta and Narok counties.

Makueni, which had improved in 2020 to position three, is nowhere to be seen in the current cycle.