Gubernatorial debate fact check: The truths, lies and everything in-between

Watch: The Nairobi gubernatorial debate

What you need to know:

  • Mr Johnson Sakaja and Mr Polycarp Igathe faced off in the second half of the debate, while five others, who have polled below five per cent in an aggregation of polls, faced off in a second tier debate for the hearts and minds of 2,415,310 voters spread across 17 constituencies and 85 wards.
  • The race is to succeed Ms Anne Kananu, who replaced the flamboyant Mike Sonko following his impeachment in 2020, and who is not on the ballot in August.

The 2022 Presidential Debates’ Series kicked off Monday with candidates angling for the Nairobi governor seat laying out their agenda for the city’s 4.39 million people (see video of full debate above). Here are some claims that were made by the candidates that warranted further scrutiny.


1. “I was chosen by 869,000 votes in 2017.” - Polycarp Igathe

We reviewed the election results for the 2017 general election posted by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. Mike Sonko and Polycarp Igathe received 871,794 votes in the 2017 general election and were elected Deputy Governor and Deputy Governor of Nairobi. Igathe resigned six months into his term while Sonko was later impeached.

Igathe slightly understates the number of votes he and Sonko received, as per the report. However, given that he was the Sonko's running mate, his claim that he received those votes leaves out the former governor's contribution.


2. “Revenue has gone down to Sh7 billion. Why is that? Because you’re not explaining to Nairobians the services you are offering.” - Johnson Sakaja

According to the controller of budget, Nairobi’s own source revenue at the end of the third quarter of the 2021/2022 financial year was Sh7,386,983,090.

The Nairobi Metropolitan Services was created in February 2020 during the 2019/2020 financial year. Nine-month revenues in subsequent years have been higher than the Sh7.2 billion of March 2020, contradicting his claim.

However, Sakaja did not specifically refer to revenue collected in the third quarter, which leaves open the possibility that he was referring to whole-year revenue. Own-source revenue in the entire 2020/2021 financial year was Sh10 billion, Sh8.72 billion in 2019/2020 and Sh10.25 billion in 2018/2019. There is no evidence that annual own-source revenue has dropped to Sh7 billion, even if Sakaja’s remarks allow that interpretation. 


3. “The national government sent Sh370 billion to the devolved governments. Only Sh19 billion came to Nairobi.” - Polycarp Igathe

According to the 2021 Division of Revenue Act, the national government allocated Sh370 billion to the counties as equitable share. The County Allocation of Revenue Act shows Nairobi received Sh19.25 billion.

In addition, according to the Statement of Actual Revenues and Net Exchequer Issues dated 17 June 2022 (Kenya Gazette notice no. 6926), the County Governments Additional Allocations Act 2022 provided another Sh39.8 billion to the counties in conditional allocations from development partners. So the total amount provided to the counties was actually Sh409.8 billion.

The same law provided Nairobi another Sh153,297,872 in conditional grants from the national government and Sh866,7914 49 in conditional grants and loans from development partners, giving a total of Sh20.27 billion to the capital city.


4. “The county was receiving Sh15bn. Now it receives Sh19 billion.” - Johnson Sakaja

We examined the amounts Nairobi County received from the National Government in 2017/2018, when Sakaja was first elected and 2022/2023, the last financial year in which he was a sitting senator. 

In 2017/2018, the county of Nairobi received Sh15 billion as equitable share, Sh760 million as conditional government grants and Sh2.3 billion as grants from development partners for a total allocation of Sh18.45 billion.

Dr Abaraham Rugo is the country manager of the International Budget Partnership’s Kenya office. Rugo said that the only funds available to the counties so far in the 2022/2023 financial year are the funds allocated under the 2022 County Allocation of Revenue Act. This means the county has only been allocated Sh19 billion so far.

Sakaja is correct on the equitable share of revenue in both years, and about Sh3 billion short on conditional grants in 2017/2018.


5. “The Auditor-General’s report about Nairobi City County disclosed that Nairobi County has a debt of over Sh80 billion now.” - Polycarp Igathe

The most recent reports on the Auditor-General's website are for the financial year 2019-2020. Neither report on the county executive or county assembly mentions Nairobi’s outstanding debt. 

According to the county’s Debt Management Strategy Paper for 2022/2023 dated February 2022, the county’s outstanding debts were Sh76.9 billion as of June 30, 2021. The county’s fiscal strategy paper also dated February 2002 lists the county’s debts at Sh79 billion as of September 2021. 


6. “For the last three years, I have been rated the best performing senator in Kenya” -  Johnson Sakaja

We looked into this claim. Score cards for Members of Parliament are created by Mzalendo, an organisation that works to hold lawmakers accountable. The score works by counting the number a member of parliament speaks based on the Hansard.

In 2020, Sakaja had the highest score in the Senate.He spoke 554 times. In 2019 the best-performing senator was Ledama ole Kina who represents Narok. He spoke 461 times.

However, Sakaja was rated as the best performing youth in the Senate Assembly, with 93 speech counts. He was also rated the top-performing committee chairperson in the Senate, as chair of the Senate Committee on Labour and Social Welfare.

In 2018 he was rated the top senator, speaking 640 times. He was also the best youth member of parliament.

Senator Sakaja was indeed honored for three consecutive years, so his claim has some basis in fact.


7. “Kenya Revenue Authority wamecollect Sh2.2 trillion. 60 percent of the Sh2.2 trillion imetoka viwanda na wafanyakazi huku Nairobi.” - Polycarp Igathe

According to a July 2022 press release by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the tax agency collected Sh2.031 trillion for the first time in Kenya’s history. Igathe’s figure is about Sh170 billion higher than the correct number.

We reached out to KRA to confirm if 60 percent of its tax revenue collected came from Nairobi. The tax agency referred us to the press release published online and noted that it does not currently publish breakdowns of tax revenue by county.