The absence of Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko from the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report launch at Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi maybe should not raise any alarm.
However, the non-appearance of the City Governor in such an important occasion happening in his backyard is not just a coincidence.
The City Hall boss has been on an all-out war, with President Uhuru Kenyatta criticising him and actions by his administration at every available opportunity.
This change of tack is peculiar for a man who would not have dared criticise Mr Kenyatta directly – at times even going to great lengths to defend him from critics. But all that is water under the bridge.
On October 25, 2020, the governor took to Facebook and, in a thinly veiled attack on the President, tore into the BBI report, saying it is about expanding and strengthening the executive “revealing Uhuru’s dislike for the Constitution”.
“The people are tired of shenanigans. They want development so that they can provide for their families. We the political class need to stop being selfish, BBI only aids the ones in power,” he said.
He went on to complain about “systemic and widespread forced displacement and eviction of Nairobi Residents” by the national government, through NMS, citing demolitions in Kariobangi, Ruai, Kibra, Dagoretti, Gikomba and Kaloleni slums, terming the action a crime against humanity.
That same day, he also urged the Head of State to go home once his second term comes to an end, adding: “We respect you but we shall not fear you when it comes to telling you the truth. Go home.”
“If your term as a governor or any other position is coming to an END just GO home...just like former retired Presidents Mwai Kibaki and the late Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi ( May his soul continue to rest in peace),” posted Mr Sonko.
The post came six days after a similar post where he said: “My humble view is Uhuru must retire just like Kibaki once his term comes to an end.”
A day earlier, the embattled governor had also expressed his regret for trusting the State, which he claims has now turned its back on him.
But it was last week when the governor seemed to have left nothing to imagination as to where his political stand is.
The former senator, on October 17, 2020, made it clear that there is no political future between him and the President.
“Time changes a lot. You can have one stand today and be of a completely contrary opinion tomorrow. The eventualities of life are in the hands of time. Ni hayo tu kwa sasa (that is all for now),” said Mr Sonko in the post on Facebook.
In a video attached to the post, the governor is singing praises of President Kenyatta even going ahead to suggest that the President is too young to retire and should continue as president for another term to complete his projects, unite the country and end politics of bloodshed.
Mr Sonko’s recent pronouncements and political manoeuvres have painted a man who is seemingly ready to chart a new political direction.
His statements, of late, have sent mixed signals on what might be cooking in his political life and plans ahead of the 2022 General Election.
Two weeks ago, ahead of Mashujaa Day, he hosted a delegation of MPs from Nyamira County allied to Deputy President William Ruto at his Upper Hill office who he said had invited him to the DP’s fundraising activities in Nyamira County.
The lawmakers included West Mugirango MP Vincent Mogaka Kemosi, North Mugirango’s Joash Nyamoko and Shadrack Mose of Kitutu Masaba. The MPs are in the DP’s team, “Hustler Nation”.
“I will not use a chopper to fly to Nyamira nor will I use my official vehicles but you will find me there,” he said.
The DP has also played host to some Nairobi MCAs allied to the governor at his Karen home on several occasions who have been accompanying him on his tours across the country.
The new development came just days after the beleaguered county boss had also criticised President Kenyatta’s administration over recent demolitions in Kibra which were being carried out by Kenya Railways.
Governor Sonko went ahead to attack the President, calling him out for changing for the worse after becoming the President and now not concerned with the plight of the common citizens while also laying bare his displeasure with President Kenyatta’s hand in what is going on in Nairobi County.
He added that if the common mwananchi will continue being mistreated, citing Kariobangi and Ruai demolitions, then it is a bye between him and the President.
However, his spokesperson Ben Mulwa said that the governor’s recent pronouncements do not, in any way, mean he is gravitating towards DP Ruto but just a continuation of his fight for the underprivileged in the society.
He said his address to the President was just a show of disappointment that a person who had become President on the platform of addressing the plight of the poor is now on the frontline fighting the same people.
“That is very far from the truth. It is a case of speaking the truth to power and has nothing to do with Tanga Tanga or Kieleweke groupings. If anything, he had formed his political movement, Team Wanjiku, as he has equal standing nationally with Raila or Ruto so if he wants he can run for the presidency,” said Mr Mulwa.
Political analyst Mark Bichachi attributed Mr Sonko’s outbursts to an angry and frustrated man reeling from clipped political power with Nairobi county government affairs now basically being run by NMS Director-General Mohammed Badi.
“Sonko does not have a problem with the President but with the fact that much of his budget and power have gone to Badi. He is just using the evictions and all other things to hit at the Head of State,” said Mr Bichachi.
President Kenyatta has gone public with his support for NMS, which is now running key functions of the county government, warning he will not allow politics to interfere with the operation of the entity.