Address legal loophole on deputy governor job

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019 00:00 |
Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko. Photo/Courtesy

That Nairobi County government is in a crisis is an understatement. Governor Mike Sonko was yesterday charged before the High Court with theft of public funds. But that is not the main problem. 

Sonko has no deputy, 18 months since the resignation of Polycarp Igathe. Should the court decide to bar him from his office as happened in the case of Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu and his Samburu counterpart Moses Lenolkulal, it could effectively precipitate a paralysis unprecedented in any county since the inception of devolution. 

On this, Sonko and the Constitution take the blame. The governor has for long resisted calls to nominate a deputy as required by law.

The Assumption of the Office of Governor Act spells out how to fill a vacancy in the office of deputy governor.

The Act, that came into force in May, requires the governor to nominate a replacement and forward the name to the County Assembly for approval within 14 days. 

Indeed, even the Supreme Court has pronounced itself on the matter. In a judgment delivered in March last year, judges advised that a governor should nominate a replacement with 14 days and the respective County Assembly vote within 60 days.  

But there is a challenge. The law does not give governors sanctions if they fail to nominate. This is the lacuna that Sonko has been exploiting. 

The Constitution appears to have accorded unreasoned and unreasonable faith on the conduct of state officers. It envisaged a situation where actions of duty bearers would be above board. 

Nairobi is not only the country’s political capital, but is also the economic hub and host to critical foreign missions. The just-released Building Bridges Initiative report has even recommended that the county be given special status. 

Despite its unique place, the county has faced a leadership crisis both at the governorship level as well as an almost dysfunctional assembly. 

The paralysis of such a county should be a moment of reflection on the basis of the Kenyan voter’s solidarity with political candidates during elections. It should serve a lsesson to all that they deserve better.

For now,  Nairobians made their bed in the 2017 election. They must lie in it.

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