Internal sabotage & Terrible Work Conditions: Dennis Onsarigo explains decision to quit plum Nyamira County job

Written by on 26 January 2024

Former investigative journalist Dennis Onsarigo has resigned from his position as Chief of Staff in the Nyamira County government.

In a resignation letter seen by Inka FM, Onsarigo attributed the ‘painful decision’ to resign from the plum job to internal sabotage from senior county officials who were keen on impeding service delivery in the region.

“I joined this administration with a genuine passion for public service and an unwavering belief in your vision for the great Nyamira County. However, over the course of my tenure, I have encountered what would best be described as a deliberate strategy that has imposed itself in the way of service delivery and impeded our ability to fully realize our vision,” Onsarigo said in a letter to Nyamira Governor Amos Nyaribo dated January 10, 2024.

The former media personality said he had, on numerous occasions, sought an audience with the governor with a view to addressing several issues of concern without success.

“As you may be aware. I made several attempts- more than six times- to seek audience with you to discuss an elaborate plan on how best the office of the chief staff would function in the execution of your manifesto while supporting other departments in aligning their short and long plans largely drawing their strengths from the mother manifesto, unfortunately this did not materialize,” he added.

He cited an embarrassing instance where the county boss was forced to stop at a petrol station waiting for his official vehicle to be fuelled by an accounting officer who could not be reached on phone.

“This stands out as perhaps the most agonizing and low moment I experienced as your Chief of Staff,” Onsarigo lamented.

Onsarigo stated that the governor’s security teams could go for months without receiving their allowances, despite the county having a budget allocated for such perks.

“It is extremely painful as well, that a plan to put in place measures aimed at making your personal comfort and security my utmost priority became a cropper: plans including and not limited to: making available for your use an alternative vehicle, an extra bodyguard -because you have only been operating with one for more than five months, fatigue notwithstanding- fuel cards and resources for a structured servicing and fuelling failed dramatically in what appeared to be an internally engineered and okayed strategy where money to be accrued from these services and interventions, unfortunately, placed your life and comfort at risk. It is regrettable,” he added.

The former aide to ODM party leader Raila Odinga further noted that efforts to initiate several projects, including giving the governor’s office a facelift and building modern toilets at the county offices, were frustrated.

“The plan to refurbish the office of the governor, build a modern toilet to save us from embarrassing episodes of panic when we have many visitors paying us a visit was also not a possibility.

“The washrooms’ renovations have failed to capture the most essential part of what constitutes a functioning washroom: running water and toiletries. The washroom can only be utilized as a urinal for men, side-lining women guests and staff,” he said.

“Part of the conversation I was to have with you was the much-needed facelift of the current office of governor; the reception and waiting area needed to be renovated to save us the blushes that come with limited space of entertaining high-profile guests to your office; the purchase of personal comfort materials notwithstanding.”

Further, Onsarigo noted that efforts to create the position of protocol officer to save the county boss from public embarrassment bore no fruits.

“My proposal which unfortunately failed to capture your attention had outlined the creation of the position of director of protocol and the recruitment of three other protocol officers. The new look protocol team was to work closely with communications officers in all the departments in planning county functions/events that would have needed your attendance,” he stated.

“It was my desire to also to continuously and in confidence brief you on the largely held view by staff in the governor’s office/the county civil service that our office has suffered deep mistrust, open rebellion and to a large extent entertained the thought they are being used as conduits of siphoning public funds. This widely held view that the donor-funded projects monies/single sourcing of contracts among other lucrative projects are avenues to divert public funds have been of grave concern to me and a chance to dispel these baseless allegations would have been possible if you had given me the much -sought audience for the last one year.”

Onsarigo said the frustrations had led him to believe that he might be labelled as incompetent if he continued to hold onto the position of Chief of Staff.

“It is difficult for me to adequately express my disappointment in not being able to contribute as significantly as I had hoped to in many other areas with an eye on improved service delivery and the upcoming 2027 elections. The positive changes we aspired to bring about in the office of the Governor would have to be implemented by someone else, unfortunately,” he added.

“Despite the dedication and hard work from our team, it has become clear that the obstacles we face are beyond my immediate control, and my continued presence in this role is regrettably not conducive to the progress we all desire. I expressed my fears to you not once but severally that “it will get to a point where I will be viewed as incompetent not because of incompetence’s sake but a regime unwilling to accommodate new and bold ideas and one that is captive to a past riddled with self -engineered setbacks.”

Before taking on the role of Chief of Staff at Nyamira County in October 2022, Onsarigo served as Raila Odinga’s Presidential Campaign Press Secretary.

Prior to that, he worked as the Director of Communications at the County Government of Taita Taveta, where he served as the link between the County/National governments and the Council of Governors.

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