Governor Ann Mumbi Waiguru is one politician that attracts both friends and foes whenever her name is mentioned. To some, she is the face of corruption (through unproven allegations) while to others, she is the epitome of a strong African woman who has risen beyond all odds in a man-dominated field of politics to assert her influence as a woman leader.
To me, mention Governor Ann Waiguru and the first thing that attracted me to her was her resolve to transform the National youth service (NYS) during the first term of the Jubilee government.
Before the NYS scandal erupted, everyone will agree that the ministry of devolution had given the once invisible NYS a fresh breath of life, and for once, its importance in the transformation of this country was inherent in the eyes of everybody. for an institution that was earlier on recruiting about a thousand youths annually, the iron lady Ann Waiguru grew these numbers to 20,000 annually by the time she left office.
I keenly followed her agenda for the NYS then, and what impressed me most about her vision for the NYS was the plan to have the service start a company that would bid for government contracts and then since NYS as an institution already has the machinery, these youths who graduated from the institution would find ready jobs for them. In this way, NYS would bid for government jobs and do quality work at a more affordable cost.
It is important to note that actually when the scandal of the road tarmacking in Kibera arose, the ministry of devolution through the NYS was trying to actually evaluate how much it would cost to tarmac a kilometer of the road to determine how viable the NYS project would be. However, for political reasons and seeing the heat and interest that NYS was generating then, the project was infiltrated and a noble project was strangled at birth by our divisive politics.
I remember at that time following keenly Ann Waiguru being interrogated by the parliamentary committee regarding corruption allegation in NYS, and though lost in the noise of a public that was baying for her blood, she maintained her innocence all through. and even more, she raised vital questions regarding the allegations of corruption that committee members that up to date have not been answered. One of them being on how, if she had known Kabura for close to 10 years was there ever any trace of communication, either directly or indirectly, all through that duration. Secondly, the members of the committee kept prompting her to reveal who was the real mastermind of the NYS scandal and who she was covering for, meaning that the members were certain of her innocence.
It is worth noting that years after this scandal was swept under, the Governor has all along through stories in the media kept writing to the Director of Criminal investigation to reveal the truth about Kabura’s affidavit (which was allegedly false) and to also reveal the findings of their investigations.
Away from the NYS, one of the noblest projects of the Jubilee government was the establishment of Huduma centers. I remember the first time i heard about Huduma centers was while reading an article written in foreign media about how he was able to access a service in such an easy way in Kenya that he believed that Kenya was way ahead in terms of transforming access to government services compared to western countries.
A few weeks later, I was at one, this time to register a company, and truth be said, this was the best service that I had ever received from the government, with ease and corruption-free. A service that would have cost me close to 3 times the amount before cost me Ksh. 10,150. All done under one roof and within a few hours. needless to say that waiting for the certificate took just a week and there I had the company certificate. It is this quality service that drove me to write an academic paper about ICT integration in Kenya and how Huduma centers were utilizing ICT to transform service delivery, a paper that I presented at the University of Dar es Salaam.
Today, Huduma centers are all over in all the 47 counties, you no longer need to travel to Nairobi to access government services.
It is worth noting that before Ann Waiguru’s exit from the ministry of devolution, her plan for the next phase of Huduma centers was to turn every constituency immigration service into some sort of Huduma center where citizens would access government services with ease and close to their locality. And even more, the concept of Huduma cards was also her idea where Kenyans would access services locally, and pay for the service with ease as well as integrating personal information within one single card.
It is also worth noting that the Huduma center idea went on to win the Global price for excellence in service delivery by the United Nations in 2015 as well as winning the African Gold Award on Innovative Management from the Association of African Public Administration and Management.
Mount Kenya Kingpin
Looking at all this, I would never hesitate to say that this lady deserves a shot to be the next leader of the Mount Kenya region. Her ambition and transformative ideas is something this country needs if at all we want to be a middle-income economy by 2030.
I have closely followed her work as the governor of Kirinyaga, and away from politics, her ambition, vision, and strength of character are what we need now. If the Mount Kenya region needs a leader today, it is a leader who can unite the region in galvanizing its resources for the prosperity of its people. Away from politics, I believe the Ambition of Governor Ann Waiguru gives us this leader.
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