What you need to know:
- The situation is so dire that some leaders have even taken issue with Sakaja’s billboards, inscribed with his smiling photos, which they claim are more visible than the county chief appearing in key places to respond to plight of Nairobians.
- Absence of the governor during the Embakasi East constituency fire tragedy at Mradi raised eyebrows about his whereabouts. Although he turned up five days later, victims said most of the systems do not work.
Nairobi governor Johnson Sakaja is a man on the spot, with leaders questioning whether he was an absentee boss, even as he rebuffed the claims insisting his trips abroad had yielded immense fruits.
A section of leaders have questioned Mr Sakaja’s resolve in dealing with scarcity of clean water, deplorable roads, clearance of garbage and breakdown of sewage systems as well as the revenue collection impasse.
The situation is so dire that some leaders have even taken issue with his billboards, inscribed with his smiling photos, which they claim are more visible than the county chief appearing in key places to respond to plight of Nairobians.
Absence of the governor during the Embakasi East constituency fire tragedy at Mradi, which killed six people and injured almost 300 others, raised eyebrows about his whereabouts.
Although he turned up five days later, victims said most of the systems do not work and his officers might have failed him, even in his absence.
A day after the incident, his deputy Njoroge Muchiri rushed to the scene to save face as residents and victims wondered where the county boss was.
Two days before the tragedy, there was another inferno at Juakali area along Landhies Road, which burnt several business structures and governor Sakaja was again missing.
His deputy stepped in.
Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna says the absence by the governor is reflected in the Nairobi county budget. "Nairobi has been reported as having one of the highest expenditures when it comes to domestic and foreign travels,” said Senator Sifuna.
He continued: “Personally, I have not seen any benefit from those trips because many of them are trips that he doesn't disclose. He doesn't tell the people of Nairobi that he is visiting a certain country for a specific purpose so that as a senator I can follow up in terms of the outcomes of those meetings.”
During the latest incidents in Nairobi, the governor is said to have been in South Africa and once he got back he rushed Mradi and donated Sh280,000 to the victims.
Coordination of rescue efforts, resettlement of those displaced and assistance for those hospitalised were mainly done by the national government, the local area legislator Babu Owino, senator Sifuna and the Red Cross.
Kileleshwa member of the County Assembly (MCA) Robert Alai says the governor has been captured by the State.
“My worry is that Governor Sakaja might be hostage to State House interests in that upto now there is the issue of own source revenue. We don't know where it is going. We don't know who is collecting it,” said Mr Alai.
Mr Sakaja defended his foreign trips, saying all of them secured goodies for the county including funds.
"I got 1.4 million euros from Paris for the Nairobi County School Feeding Programme. Do you know, I am the vice chair of the C40 cities on climate change and I deputise the mayor of London and Nairobi City Hall got certified as the first green government building in Africa. Which is attracting a lot of real investments in the city," said Mr Sakaja.
The governor has dismissed claims of being held hostage by the State House especially through the county's own source revenue collection system.
"Most governors go and get a private vendor or a private company so that they make a percentage of that profit, I don't. I have used a government-to-government system that is very good and I am not getting a shilling out of it," said Mr Sakaja.
The first-term the governor has lauded the effectiveness of his billboards on rate interest waivers stating they have brought returns on investments.
"In the last five years no one has raised more revenue in Nairobi more than me. I have surpassed all the previous governments. That thing for waiver for two months has given me more than half a billion shillings extra that we didn't have before. So an investment of twenty million giving you six hundred and fifty million, is that right or is it a problem,” said Mr Sakaja.
Nairobi Assembly Minority leader Anthony Kiragu backed the governor, dismissing those criticising Sakaja for his absence, insisting it is usually to the benefit of the residents of Nairobi.
"That is rubbish. The governor is always out on official duties. The last time the governor travelled he was with other governors. There is nothing like the State House controlling City Hall. Governor Sakaja is in charge. Those are busy bodies,” said Kiragu.
The move by the governor to donate the funds to the fire victims has also rattled the leaders, questions over his judgement yet he has littered the city with billboards which is a cost implication to the residents.
"Sh280,000 is equivalent to two billboards. Sakaja has over one hundred billboards in Nairobi. I don't know who told him that Nairobians need to see his face every time they are going home so that they can sleep well,” criticised Mr Sifuna, the senator.
Prof Gitile Naituli, who is a professor of management and leadership, argues that inability of the electorate to hold their leaders to account is what is creating the irresponsibility.
“Those elected are busy making money. Going for foreign trips means higher per diems that is why some of them are absent managers. The value system has been changed and that is why even those who are not out of the country are in Nairobi, they are not in their counties,” said Prof Naituli.
Former governor Mike Sonko, was famous for being around the city whenever there was trajedy.