Kick out Sonko for the sake city residents, country

Monday, January 6th, 2020 00:00 |
Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko. Photo/PD/FILE

It is now a month since Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko was charged in court over corruption and abuse of office.

And going by the precedent set by similar cases, the court barred the governor from setting foot in his office until the case is heard and determined. He is now locked out.

However, Sonko’s circumstances have created a leadership crisis at City Hall. The man refused to appoint a deputy governor, ostensibly thinking — now proved wrong — that he could not be barred from office due to the vacuum that such a move would create. 

In the other two cases, the transition was smooth and seamless, even as the affected governors went out kicking and screaming.

In Kiambu, Deputy Governor James Nyoro was sworn in and is now head of the county, after  Governor Ferdinand Waititu was charged with corruption.

In Samburu, the deputy governor, Julius Leseeto, took over when Governor Moses Lenolkulal was charged. Both counties have remained stable.

Since Sonko was charged and barred from office, nothing has been done to try and resolve the leadership vacuum in the office of the governor.

The Nairobi County government has no head, and everything is in limbo. So, as is to be expected, political games are at fever pitch, as myriad forces try to out-jostle one another for control of City Hall’s vast resources.

It was irresponsible of the government to have moved against Sonko without a solid succession plan at City Hall, especially when it was clear that he had refused to name a deputy to forestall just such an eventuality. It has created a behemoth that is rudderless and completely derailed.

This column has stated several times before that Nairobi is not just another city in Africa, or another urban centre in Kenya for that matter.

Nairobi is one of the handful of global centres domiciled in Africa, where the world regularly congregates to do business. The others are all in the West or Asia.

Over the years, consecutive governments have managed Nairobi very poorly, but the current situation is probably the worst ever. Governance at City Hall is currently a complete shambles. 

As it were, Sonko is still in charge and in full control, and now without any legal liability. After all, everybody knows that he has been “barred” from entering his office. Nobody can blame him for whatever happens during this interregnum. 

No official at City Hall dare go against his wishes, given the unpredictability of Kenya’s politics. So, the authority at City Hall remains Sonko and City Hall will do his bidding until an alternative power centre is established. The government has played perfectly into his hands!

Just to demonstrate the fluid position City Hall officials find themselves in,  Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi has failed — or neglected or refused — to summon MCAs for a special session to discuss the leadership crisis, which its sponsors say could lead to impeachment of the governor.

ODM party has twice demanded that she call a special session, noting that operations of the Nairobi County Government had ground to a halt.

Elachi has spurned these demands, stating, rather lamely, that she is yet to see the reason for a special session. 

The tomfoolery surrounding the motion has so infuriated the ODM party that it has warned its MCAs that those frustrating the motion will face its wrath.

They have further threatened to “take matters into their own hands.” One would have to be foolishly naïve to believe that the embattled governor is just an innocent bystander to all these shenanigans.

The government must end this paralysis at City Hall immediately. If the residents of Nairobi have to go back to the polls, then so be it. But the government cannot just sit back and allow the chaos at City Hall to continue. 

For once, put the politics aside and do what is in the best of interests of the residents of Nairobi, Kenya, and the global community. Replace Sonko now![email protected]

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