What you need to know:
- Regardless of the reasons for sparing Mr Sonko the ignominy of impeachment, it should have been clear that the national government was merely buying time.
- The affairs of Nairobi County have been on the boil ever since the first governor, Mr Evans Kidero was ousted, involving the shenanigans of a few individuals.
The battle for the soul of Nairobi County has become so controverted few can tell what is going on or when the intrigues, in-fighting and bickering will come to an end so that the tax- and rate-payers can enjoy the services they pay so heavily for.
There was a glimmer of light on March 18 when the national government prevailed upon the governor to sign a deed that ceded the most important functions and responsibilities to it, after which it set up an entity, Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS), to run them. The peace and amity were not to last too long, for there were other factors at play.
It will be remembered that at the time, the governor, Mr Mike Sonko, was embroiled in legal problems involving corruption and was at the same time facing impeachment from a faction of MCAs which would have no doubt succeeded, had it been allowed to take place.
In my view, that was a mistake. Not only had Mr Sonko not been exonerated of the criminal charges facing him, the majority of MCAs were against his continual stay at the helm of the city government. Of course, at the time, there were practical reasons for sparing the country any kind of election; other constitutional considerations would have come in the way of the most urgent issue of the day – fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
Regardless of the reasons for sparing Mr Sonko the ignominy of impeachment, it should have been clear that the national government was merely buying time; the governor is an irrepressible individual, and there was no way he could lie low. For instance, the governor parted ways with the county Speaker recently over Sh15 billion allocated to the NMS, which he wanted to be disbursed through him.
Nobody willingly gives up control of this kind of money which gives him power of patronage over others. So, it was just a matter of time before the governor realised he had been duped and started making noise, going as far as claiming that he had no idea what he had signed.
On this one, Mr Sonko should tell it to the birds; his arms had been so efficiently twisted he really had little room for manoeuvre. In the meantime, there were other reasons to worry about the goings-on.
The affairs of Nairobi County have been on the boil ever since the first governor, Mr Evans Kidero was ousted, involving the shenanigans of a few individuals. You mention the county assembly and five names crop up, often negatively—Sonko himself, former Speaker Beatrice Elachi, now-and-then County Assembly Clerk Jacob Ngwele, and former Majority Leader Abdi Guyo.
Ms Elachi was reportedly forced to resign on Tuesday ostensibly because she couldn’t get along with Mr Sonko, Mr Guyo and Mr Ngwele.
As for Mr Guyo, whose relationship with both Governor Sonko and Ms Elachi has always been troubled, nothing is clear-cut either. The man has been kicked out and reinstated more than anyone else in Kenya.
On June 9, he was suspended for a year by the assembly for missing 11 consecutive sittings, but a month later he was back on the job, reinstated by the Jubilee Party. He had played a prominent role in impeaching Ms Elachi and it is believed that this was the reason for his ouster in the first place. The same thing happened in November last year, but he was, in April this year, again reinstated. All this bustle and confusion are enough to make the head reel.
Now that Ms Elachi is gone – she was impeached once in 2018, bounced back last year and was on the point of being impeached again-- one would hope that peace will prevail in the county government. However, this won’t happen as long as Mr Sonko is still in charge however nominally—whether he goes to his office or not is immaterial-- for he is not likely to be comfortable working with NMS director-general Mohamed Badi.
Forcing the two to work together may be futile, for there cannot be two centres of power between a populist politician and a member of the disciplined forces. Something must give, and one hopes such a fate will not befall the NMS which is rendering laudable, evidence-based services to city dwellers. If I was in a position of power, I would regard this as a last warning for the city government to put its act together. Should this fail, the most sensible way out would be to disband it altogether.
This, of course, is easier said than done but critics insist that to end the incessant bickering at City Hall, the county should be run as a department. The only problem with this would be what to do with the 85 MCAs and their governor, who have a specific mandate given by the people and the Constitution. But, as the rather hackneyed expression goes, you cannot hope to make an omelette without breaking eggs.