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First Woman Governor of Nairobi Takes Office

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Wednesday, November 17th, 2021
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Ann Kananu finally took office as the third governor of Nairobi after a 10-month wait, with a pledge to set City Hall on the path to full recovery, less than nine months to the General Election.

In a colourful ceremony presided over by High Court Judge Lilian Nabwire Mutende yesterday, Ms Kananu took the oath, marking an end to a protracted legal battle with her predecessor, Mike Sonko.

Delivering her first speech, the former deputy governor unveiled a five-point Nairobi economic stimulus blueprint that she is banking on to improve service delivery, as well as the quality of life for Nairobi residents.

The 41-year-old has pledged to boost early learning and enhance inclusive education. She will employ 219 additional early childhood development and education (ECDE) teachers.

The county government will also provide free milk to about 6,450 children in the more than 229 public pre-primary schools in the capital.

Ms Kananu’s administration is seeking to sink boreholes and install 850 water tanks across the 85 wards in Nairobi, with priority given to informal settlements, to improve water and sanitation.

Recovery plan

To revive an economy that has been ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic, the governor promised to launch in the next 30 days, a recovery plan with focus on security, community policing, lighting and sanitation.

The new county chief promised to work with the national government, the county assembly, the Senate and Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) for the benefit of Nairobi residents.

“I thank you for putting your faith in me to fill this role. I stand tall on the shoulders of women who have come before me and broken the glass ceiling. I wish to restate my commitment to serve you and to call upon all of you to join me in making Nairobi a great place to invest, live and work [in],” Ms Kananu said as she took her oath of office at the KICC Comesa Ground.

Council of Governors chairperson Martin Wambora, NMS boss Mohamed Badi, Public Service Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia, Gender Chief Administrative Secretary Rachel Shebesh, Nyeri Deputy Government Caroline Karugu, Makadara MP George Aladwa, and a host of other leaders witnessed the swearing-in.

As the first female governor of the city and the fourth in the country, the former Disaster Management and Coordination chief officer promised to follow in the footsteps of Margaret Kenyatta–the first black African and only woman mayor of Nairobi. Ms Kananu praised Margaret Kenyatta, who died in 2017, for initiating many development projects and prioritising women, children and education.

Girls’ empowerment

Ms Kananu also pledged to support women and girls’ empowerment in the county by establishing gender-based violence recovery centres and safe houses in each of the 17 sub-counties.

“I will also ensure budgetary allocation for the facilities as well as establishment of witness protection programmes,” she said.

The former deputy governor also enumerated accomplishments of her young tenure, including disbursement of Sh503 million in bursaries to bright and needy families, recruitment of 498 pre-primary school teachers, rolling out feeding programmes to support victims of disaster as well as waiving all levies in all public pre-primary centres, resulting in an increase in enrolment to 17,000 from 13,485.

“We will continue to use our strategic position in the country to ensure Nairobi continues to be the regional hub of the many visitors transiting, safe home to the international agencies and businesses and the key contributor of income to the country’s GDP.”

Ms Kananu’s path to power came after the impeachment of Mr Sonko last December, and her subsequent vetting and swearing-in as deputy governor in January. After months of delays battling court cases, she now has powers to hire and sack top county officials with key functions of health, transport, public works, utilities and ancillary services, and county planning and development services to NMS.

The focus now shifts to whom she will nominate as her deputy, as well as impending changes to her cabinet.

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