Embu Governor Martin Nyaga Wambora has finally ascended Mount Olympus and is dining with the gods. Wambora was voted in as the fifth Chair of the Council of Governors (CoG) on 29 January 2021 , with Kisii Governor James Ongwae picked as his deputy. The CoG, a non- partisan entity established under section 19 of the Intergovernmental Relations Act (IGRA 2012), comprises all 47 Governors, with its main mandate being to promote visionary leadership, sharing of best practices and offering of a collective voice on policy issues.
Wambora’s previous electoral wins have always attracted legal and political challenges, his unanimous election as chair of CoG must therefore have felt like vindication. He takes over from Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya who served as the CoG chair for two consecutive terms.
A man of many firsts, the Makerere University alumnus has not had a smooth sail ever since he was elected as Embu Governor in August of 2013. He became the first Governor to be impeached by a county assembly, barely a year into his first term. Led by the county’s Deputy Speaker and Kirimari MCA at the time Ibrahim Swaleh, the county lawmakers claimed that the County Chief misappropriated funds and snubbed procurement laws. The specific accusation were that he had bought faulty seeds which did not germinate and also purchased vehicles without log books.
Victory was nigh for the MCAs after the Select Committee of the Senate led by the then Kakamega Senator Dr Bonny Khalwale found him guilty. The Senate endorsed the committee’s findings and voted to impeach Wambora. However this was a short-lived setback for Wambora since four months later the High Court sitting in Kerugoya reinstated him.
In its ruling, the court reasoned that the entire ousting process was in violation of an existing court order, hence null and void. The Embu peoples’ representatives did not give up and attempted to oust Wambora three more times. Wambora won all the battles and stayed put.
After he successfully defended his seat in 2017 against his outgoing Senator Mr Lenny Maxwell Kivuti, winning by margin of less than 1500 votes, a petition was filed in the high court his win. The petition was successful and Wambora’s election was nullified on 22nd February 2018. Wambora appealed, getting reprieve at the Court of Appeal which upheld his election. Mr Kivuti proceeded to the Supreme Court where the Governor’s election was upheld.
Whether you are for or against the 69 year old, you have to give the Embu Governor his due. As he embarks on his new role as CoG, with the possibility of winning a second and final term, observers will be keen to see whether legal and political challenges will follow Wambora into his new role, and whether he will surmount them the same way as he has done in the past.