Uhuru baffles all with choice of Badi as new Cabinet member

Nairobi Metropolitan Services Director-General Major-General Mohamed Badi takes an oath of secrecy at State House, Nairobi, on September 10, 2020. 

Photo credit: Pool | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Nairobi Metropolitan Service Director-General Mohamed Badi will now attend Cabinet meetings.
  • Maj-Gen Badi took an oath of secrecy as required for all persons who attend Cabinet meetings, State House said in a statement.
  • Maj-Gen Badi’s elevation means he will sit in the body in which his boss, Chief of Defence Forces Gen Robert Kibochi, does not.

President Kenyatta has handed more powers to a soldier he had tasked with running Nairobi City County after Governor Mike Sonko surrendered key functions. 

Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS) Director-General Mohamed Badi will now attend Cabinet meetings, becoming the first serving soldier to take part in the sessions of the national executive’s top decision-making organ. 

He joins Jubilee Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju as the other member without a ministerial portfolio, but Maj-Gen Badi controls a significant chunk of the county budget—Sh9.8 billion of the Sh17 billion allocated to Nairobi this financial year.

Power struggles

It is a show of confidence by the President in the man he tapped from the military to restore order in the capital, which had for long been crippled by a power struggle at City Hall between the governor and the assembly Speaker. 

The leadership crisis worsened last December when Mr Sonko was charged with corruption and barred from accessing his office, which caused a power vacuum in the absence of a deputy governor.

President Kenyatta chose the less destabilising option provided for in the Constitution — a takeover of key county functions — as impeaching the governor without a deputy to assume office would have called for fresh elections. Under the deal, Mr Sonko transferred the running of the county health services, planning, transport services and public works to NMS, which was placed directly under the Executive Office of the President.

Oath of secrecy

On Thursday, Maj-Gen Badi took an oath of secrecy as required for all persons who attend Cabinet meetings, State House said in a statement.

“The Director-General shall henceforth attend all meetings of Cabinet and its Committees, pursuant to Executive Order No. 3 of 2020,” State House Spokesperson Kanze Dena-Mararo said.

NMS was established on March 18 following the signing of the Deed of Transfer of Functions between Mr Sonko and the national government on February 25.

Maj-Gen Badi’s elevation means he will sit in the body in which his boss, Chief of Defence Forces Gen Robert Kibochi, does not.

Former Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen remarked: “Maj-Gen Badi will be the first sitting military officer to be a Cabinet Secretary in charge of Nairobi Metropolitan Services. Meanwhile, his boss General Robert Kibochi will be nowhere near the Cabinet. Interesting times.”

Maj-Gen Badi, who was the senior directing officer in charge of Kenya Air Force staff training at the National Defence College before his NMS job, has been tasked with stamping out graft and inefficiency from the capital city.

Mr Sonko and Maj-Gen Badi have been embroiled in a battle for the control of the city.

In April, Mr Sonko denied NMS finances by rejecting a Supplementary Budget approved by the assembly in a move seen as a plot to frustrate its operations.

This forced the President to put the NMS under his office where it is now drawing money from the Consolidated Fund.

At one point, Mr Sonko threatened to pull out of the pact, saying, he was duped into signing it.

The President, however, brokered a truce between the two, a move that saw Mr Sonko publicly announcing that he will drop all cases he had filed against NMS.

According to the deal signed at State House, the Nairobi City County Government is obligated to fully finance the transferred functions from county revenue funds.

Special status

“Arrangements shall be put in place to ensure that the resources necessary for the performance of the function or exercise of the power are transferred,” the Constitution says.

While saying that the country retains the 47 counties, the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) team, citing the fact that the county was home to the third global headquarters of the United Nations, and was the seat of all arms and government, suggested that the government “must take into consideration this special status of Nairobi.”

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