Nairobi Speaker vows to restore city’s lost glory
Derek Otieno and Zadock Angira
Former Makadara MP and the Nairobi County Speaker Benson Mutura is this morning scheduled to be sworn in to act as Governor of Nairobi following the impeachment of Mike Sonko.
Incidentally, Mutura succeeded Sonko in 2013 as Makadara MP when the governor contested the Senate seat.
Mutura or ‘Bena’ will be stepping into the shoes of Sonko who resisted a campaign for him to be elected Speaker after he lost the Makadara seat to former Nairobi Mayor George Aladwa in the last election.
Mutura, who was elected to replace former Speaker Beatrice Elachi, yesterday expressed confidence that he will fill the void as Nairobi’s prepare for a possible by-election.
“I am ready for the swearing-in. I will be at the County Assembly by 10.00am for the legal process as stipulated in the Constitution and thereafter; I will assume the control of the county while awaiting the elections of a substantive governor. I hope everything goes on well tomorrow,” Mutura told People Daily yesterday.
Mutura will be expected to work hand in with Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS), which has been allocated some functions of the county government under the Transfer Deed.
He beat Aladwa in 2013 after then Opposition Cord coalition fielded several candidates making it easier for the Jubilee flagbearer to cruise to victory.
Mutura made a political comeback in August following the resignation of Elachi, who had a bumpy ride as an occupant of the Speaker’s post.
Mid-August, the Jubilee Parliamentary Group meeting, hosted by Secretary-General Raphael Tuju, unveiled Mutura as the party’s preferred candidate. Mutura landed the post following the support of Ward Reps from the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).
Mutura was elected by 99 MCAS out of the total 122. He beat five other candidates.
Those who vied for the position included former Nairobi Deputy Speaker Ken Ngondi, former Nairobi Economic Planning chief officer Washington Makodingo, Abdi Ali Abdi, Mike Guoro and Allan Mang’era. Former Speaker Alex ole Magelo withdrew from the race to support Mutura.
“I am up to the task. We have a chance to bring back the glory of Nairobi as a commercial hub and capital city and the seat of power. It is a chance that we have been accorded to correct some things that might have gone wrong with our politics. Given the support of the Assembly, I will serve, albeit for the short period,” said Mutura
Among other things, Mutura is expected to resolve the stalemate over the county budget, which was among the reasons for Sonko’s impeachment. He will also have to manage deep differences among MCAs arising in the wake of the former governor’s impeachment.
Legal experts were yesterday divided about the extent to which an acting governor can exercise the powers assigned to the office during the transition period.
“He can’t reshuffle or make any appointments to the Cabinet but can represent the office in functions where the governor is required and sign documents,” said Nyamira Senator Okong’o O’Mogeni.
“His powers are limited to the takeover role. The Sonko ministers will be in office until the next administration is constituted like in the case of Bomet and Nyeri where a vacancy occurred in the office of the governor,” said the senator, a Senior Counsel.
But former committee of Experts (CoE) member Bob Mkangi said Mutura can exercise full powers given to the office and make substantive decisions.
“Article 179 of the Constitution says that county ministers cease to hold office once there is a vacancy in the office of the governor and that has happened. He will be required to constitute a caretaker government to execute his mandate and will make substantive decisions including re-constituting the current administration,” Mkangi told People Daily.
Mutura occupies the position due to Sonko’s failure to appoint a deputy following the resignation of Polycarp Igathe three years ago.
The easy and soft-spoken politician and a father of three was born on September 7, 1972 in Kiambu County.
In 2007, he served as Kimathi Ward councilor before his election as MP.
His father, Kangara Mutura, who was a long serving councilor in the defunct Nairobi City Council representing the larger Uhuru-Bahati Ward.
Mutura says he cut his teeth in Nairobi politics early in his life to know more about the challenges that affect the people of Nairobi at a very early age.
Born and brought up in Bahati Estate, Mutura attended Uhuru Bahati Primary School before joining Dagoretti High School between 1986 and 1990. He later joined Graffins College in Nairobi where he earned a certificate in Computer Science.
In 1993, he joined Kenya Polytechnic (currently the Technical University of Kenya TUK) where he graduated with a diploma in Procurement and Supplies.
Later, in 2006, he joined the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) where he graduated with a degree in Governance and Leadership in 2010.
He also holds a Bachelor of Business Commerce from the Kenya Methodist University where he graduated in 2014.
It is not clear what Sonko plans to do in future as following the impeachment; he cannot hold any State office.
Article 75 of the Constitution requires State officers to behave in a manner that avoids, among other things, demeaning the office the officer holds.
Any person who is dismissed or removed from office for contravening this clause is disqualified from holding any other State office.
Sonko was found guilty of varying tenders for the construction of a stadium in Nairobi’s Dandora estate and claims that he was also high-handed, but also used language in media platforms that was unbefitting his office and status.