Since Nyamira county governor John Nyagarama came to power in 2013, he has never held a leaders’ meeting something that has now turned out to haunt his leadership and political legacy as he serves his last term. Despite efforts by other leaders led by Interior cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i to persuade and plead with him to call for a leaders’ meeting so that they can put their heads together and chart a way forward in addressing the underdevelopment in the county, Nyagarama has chosen to keep quiet for reasons known to him.
He has also chosen to run the county government of Nyamira single-handedly because he allegedly does not want the economic, social and political evils which he has been committing exposed to the public. Nyagarama is known by his subjects not because of the development but due to corruption, nepotism and clannism which he has perfected and embraced in his government, vices which have made his subjects to lose respect, confidence as they are always at loggerheads with him. Of late, when you mention the name of Nyagarama in public places, you are stigmatized because of being associated with a leader who is a failure. Despite leaders and members of the public protesting to the security agents over rampant corruption which was being exhibited in the Nyagarama government, no action has been taken against him despite glaring irregularities. The investigators have become part of the ring benefiting from public funds looted from the county public coffers.
When Uhuru Kenyatta visited Nyamira county, members of the public and a section of leaders vowed that they were going to teach him a political lesson over corruption in his government before the president and that was what they did. When Nyagarama was invited by the area senator Okongo Omogeni to speak at a function at Ikonge Primary School, the crowd became hostile and refused to be addressed by him. He suffered a major political setback in his own backyard before Uhuru and his ODM party boss Raila Odinga when his own people heckled and booed. Nyagarama got into trouble with the gathering when he was invited to give his speech by Senator Omogeni who was the master of ceremony. The agitated crowd in a chorus refused to be addressed by the governor, creating panic and tension as security officers took positions in fear that chaos may erupt and disrupt the president’s meeting.
When the governor forced his way to read a memorandum he had to the president, his speech was disrupted with shouts from the surging crowd, forcing him to cut short his speech. Efforts by Nyagarama to plead with the public to give him ample time so that he could read his speech which he said contained challenges facing the county which he wanted the president to address fell on deaf ears as the angry crowd heckled him down turning the meeting chaotic. Uhuru, Raila and other leaders sat watching in disbelief as the charged crowd refused to be addressed by their own governor who is serving his final term. Omogeni had to take the microphone from Nyagarama by force and invite Matiang’i to take over the rest of the programme. Nyagarama’s supporters have since pointed an accusing finger at Matiang’i for not coming to the rescue of Nyagarama as he was being torn apart politically before the president and Raila.
However when his deputy Amos Nyaribo was invited to talk he was wildly cheered. Members of the public who talked to this writer said they are unhappy with the governor over what they termed as his mismanagement of the county funds and wanted the president to know that they had an issue with the governor. They also claimed that he was running the county as if it is a personal property without involving other leaders especially the youth. However, Nyagarama’s political handlers told this writer that the chaos were planned and instigated by his political detractors who wanted to succeed him. They named Okongo, Borabu MP Ben Momanyi and other aspirants whom they claimed had dished out money to have Nyagarama stopped from addressing the president’s rally. Two days earlier, the senate standing committee on justice, legal affairs and human rights was forced to call off its sittings in Nyamira county after the governor and his accounting officers presented questionable documents which the committee rejected for not being authentic
Nyagarama and the director in the department of agriculture David Munyi were at pains to explain and account for how the Sh10 million from the World Bank meant to assist the small scale farmers in the county was spent. The committee which was chaired by Omogeni was shocked and watched in disbelief as the governor presented documents which had no date when the farmers were trained, where the trainings were held, how much they were paid and other personal details. The governor also failed to produce bank statements indicating how withdrawals were being made as demanded by the four youths who are petitioners. The committee was also disappointed that millions of shillings were spent in organising seminars for members of the county assembly instead of farmers who were to benefit. Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior questioned asked why Nyamira county council was spending money holding seminars for MCAs and members of his county executive committee outside the county and yet there were enough facilities in the county.
Nyagarama was unable to answer the questions and furiously turned onto his officers whom he told to answer the questions as members of the senate watched in amusement. The four petitioners who were led by Vitalis Ongaro protested to the senate that funds meant for development and other projects had been embezzled by the governor. Ongaro told the committee that employment in the county was also irregularly done as clannism and nepotism had taken a centre stage. He also alleged that contracts were given to people who had political connections with the governor and his family members. After realizing that the documents presented were not authentic, the committee had to call off the meeting and directed the governor to avail the official documents to their office. “After receiving the documents which are official, we will set a new date when the petition would be heard,” Omogeni stated.