Ex-Nairobi Town Clerk John Gakuo died on Tuesday at the Mbagathi District Hospital, Nairobi.
Until his death, he was serving a three year jail term for occasioning the loss of Sh283 million in the infamous cemetery land scandal in Mavoko.
Gakuo was jailed alongside former Local Government PS Sammy Kirui, former Legal Affairs Secretary in the defunct Nairobi City Council Mary Ngethe and the then tender committee chairman Alexander Musee.
They were found guilty of abuse of office and willful failure to comply with procurement laws.
Prisons boss Isaiah Osugo told the Star on phone that Gakuo died on Tuesday morning after being rushed to the hospital on Monday morning.
Education and Career
Gakuo can easily be described as a man of action and less talk who believed that as a leader, you must deliver results regardless of resources at your disposal.
This mantra seemingly saw him maintain an illustrious career in administrative positions in Nairobi spanning several years.
His celebrated success City Hall is largely attributed to his effective resource management.
Gakuo did not believe in the ‘we have no money’ excuse for not getting the job at hand done.
He noted that leaders should use other means to solve problems – use what you have to get what you want, he would say.
Gakuo was first elected the Nairobi Town Clerk in 2004 under the defunct Nairobi City Council.
The appointment to City Hall came after he was transferred from the Ministry of Health.
Prior to this, the University of Nairobi graduate worked in the provincial administration for over 20 years.
In a previous interview, Gakuo said that apart from effective resource management, he managed the city well through the utilization of his powers.
He said, for instance, that if garbage was found in a place that had been cleared of waste, immediate property owners or businesspersons were held responsible and dealt with firmly.
“With time, they towed the line and became our eyes on the ground. And if my men were to blame, I dealt with them firmly as well,” Gakuo once said.
Gakuo is largely credited with refurbishing Central Park and Uhuru Park which he found when they were very dirty, unmaintained, and controlled by street urchins.
The face of the city also brightened up during Gakuo’s tenure as he made it mandatory for building owners to fix and repaint them before renewing their licenses.
Littering, urinating in public and violating zebra crossing and numerous other violations of city by-laws were punished by the council’s various inspectorate teams.
Street lighting, tree planting and beautification of roundabouts were the other features that became alive in the city under his tenure.
Gakuo also reined in on the chaotic matatu industry at the time by occasioning the arrest of matatus that dropped or picked up passengers at undesignated areas.
Grace to grass
Gakuo’s fall from grace came not long after he was appointed to serve in Nairobi’s first governor Evans Kidero’s cabinet.
Just 16 months after his appointment on June 20, 2013, as the Water, Energy, Forestry, Environment and Natural Resources, he was fired.
Kidero summoned him in his office on October 7, 2014, and verbally told him his services were no longer needed.
Gakuo tried to fight his dismissal in court by demanding that he be paid a full salary up to the end his five-year contract.
He argued that he had committed his salary to various financial institutions and had no other source of income to service the loans without a meaningful income.
Until his incarceration on May 15, 2018, over the Mavoko cemetery land saga, Gakuo was being considered as a possible replacement for former Nairobi Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe who resigned in January. -The Star