His life has been a roller coaster decades after mysteriously walking out of jail

Wednesday, December 9th, 2020 00:00 |
Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko. Photo/File

After mysteriously walking out of Shimo La Tewa Prison in Mombasa in 1998, where he had been sent after being convicted of fraud, beleaguered Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko’s life has been a roller coaster.

From thriving businesses in the matatu and hospitality industries as well as land investments at the Coast, Sonko rose quickly to become not only a popular politician, but also a powerful one after he successfully contested, first the Makadara parliamentary seat, then Nairobi senatorial seat in 2013 and the Nairobi gubernatorial seat five years later.

Tainted past

But today, this highly successful political career is in danger of crumbling, not unless a miracle takes place.

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka has convened a Special Sitting of the Senate to discuss the resolutions of the Nairobi County assembly which impeached Sonko last week.

Yesterday, Sonko, through his lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui wrote to Lusaka asking him to stop the proceedings, terming them as being in contempt of court and also the Senate Standing Orders.

Prior to becoming the Nairobi senator, and later governor, Sonko had made a name as a fearless defender of the interests of the hoi polloi especially during his tenure as Makadara MP.

The embattled governor has not shied away from publicly glorifying his rather tainted past during television talk shows, presenting himself as a self-made politician, who has risen from rags to riches, at one time declaring that he is worth more than the Nairobi county government’s annual budget of more than Sh35 billion.

“I am worth more than the annual budget of Nairobi and I have got some fixed deposit accounts of more than five million dollars in different banks.

I accumulated this money from my businesses long before I even became an MP. I don’t have to announce where I get my profits from.

I buy a property at Sh10 million, which I can sell after 10 years at a profit because the value of properties appreciate every day,” Sonko once said while brandishing a heap of title deeds and logbooks as part of his wealth.

Dressing inappropriately

Sonko, who was once named as a drug baron in Parliament by the late Internal Security Minister George Saitoti, went on to explain how he used to bank Sh4 million from his Mombasa club every Monday, adding that he has always been in big time businesses, which include tens of matatus plying various city routes.

His association with the matatu sector in the city easily won him the Makadara by-election in 2010 on a Narc Kenya ticket, beating veterans like Reuben Ndolo and the late Dick Wathika who were front runners contesting on Party of National Unity and ODM respectively.

But his entry into politics would later expose his other side after he was kicked out of the House for dressing ‘inappropriately’ after he entered the chambers with earrings.

He was once caught on camera boxing metal doors on Nairobi streets during demonstrations. 

During the trial of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands, Sonko caught headlines after he was pictured sprawling on the streets while clad in the colours of the national flag.

His deep pockets and prowess in political mobilisation and theatrics during public rallies during the 2013 and 2017 elections, endeared him to the Uhuruto campaign teams, making him a much sought after speaker in the Jubilee campaign rallies especially in Nairobi.

But this proximity to the State would start backfiring when he, on one occasion, called the President and put him on speaker phone.

With little regard for etiquette, Sonko is known to go the extent of recording his telephone conversations with both friends and foes and he will not hesitate to leak them or share screenshots of WhatsApp and messages with the public.

Those whose conversations and short text messages Sonko has exposed to the world include his former deputy Polycarp Igathe, who later resigned citing frustrations and former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu who he embarrassed by leaking a call record in which the ex-county chief was begging him for help to have his wife released from the police cells.

During his political career, many are the times that Sonko has found himself on the wrong side of the law, being arrested and thrown into police cells.

But despite the political force he had created, Sonko who critics say enjoyed impunity and used blackmail to thrive politically,  today has his political career hanging on a thin thread.

Last week, the county assembly voted to kick him out over allegations of abuse of office, gross misconduct and attempts to sabotage the operations of the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) headed by Major Mohamed Badi.

His latest woes also stem from his refusal to assent to the Sh37 billion budget.

Sonko’s woes deepened when he was forced to surrender the Health, Transport, Public Works, Utilities and Ancillary services and Planning and Development departments to the NMS, leaving him with mundane functions.

Besides frustrating NMS by denying it funds and threatening to terminate the deal, he sued the outfit after it seconded nearly all county employees from key departments to the national government.

A planned impeachment motion against Sonko, who has also been paraded in court for allegations of theft of Sh357 million at City Hall, was shelved last year after he obtained a court order blocking it.

The governor, according to City Hall insiders, does not listen and, does not take instructions from any quarters, and has reduced cabinet meetings to mere gossip sessions.

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