What you need to know:
- Nairobians need services.
- The capital city is the seat of power. It doesn’t need devolution.
Oh, Kidero. What will it take for you to wake up and do some work for the people who elected you? Into what depths does Nairobi have to sink before you realise you are taking us back to the worst days when the capital went from being the city in the sun to a giant slum?
The other day, three female colleagues were walking home after late evening studies at the University of Nairobi when they were accosted by a gang of street boys (really men) who menancingly insisted that they had to take one of the girls into the darkness at Jeevanjee Gardens.
They had to run for their lives. The menace is not restricted to night time. Biashara Street, for example, has been entirely colonised by street boys.
To use a cell phone, one must first look both ways like a squirrel about to cross a busy road.
Many of the sidewalks that were opened up under town clerk John Gakuo are unusable yet again, due to dim street lights and uncollected garbage.
What, exactly, does the county government do with the billions allocated to it apart from figuring out how to share it among tenderpreneurs?
Kidero’s abject failure is a particularly bitter blow to the many Nairobians who defied ethnic politics to wake up early on March 4 two years ago and vote him in.
I am embarrassed to have used this forum to publicly endorse him following the arrogant middle class logic that Nairobi couldn’t have a stone thrower as governor.
The county, we argued, should be an incubator for future presidents as seen in places as far flung as Paris and São Paulo.
The experiment has been an abject failure.
SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE
What now? If nothing changes, it is likely that Mike Sonko will be the next governor of Nairobi.
But something has to change. Nairobi is the most important city in this part of the world, the hub and pacesetter for all others.
Its leadership should not be placed at the mercy of an electorate which is often swayed by factors other than merit in picking its leaders.
Devolution is an overwhelmingly good thing, possibly the best thing the new Constitution yielded.
Governors may be “eating,” but they can be voted out, and most importantly, the national cake is being eaten in every corner of the country.
But devolution was supposed to disperse power from Nairobi. Nairobi itself doesn’t need devolution. It is the seat of national power.
We should amend the katiba to have an appointed administration in the capital rather than an elected one.
Addis Ababa is booming and could soon replace Nairobi as the regional transport and commercial hub if things don’t change.
Traffic jams are now history in that city because the first rapid transit urban metro train service in sub-Saharan Africa recently began operation. The city is tidy and neat and crime is almost non-existent.
That’s because Meles Zenawi’s administration decreed that all the states in the country could elect their governors, but Addis would fall under the direct supervision of the federal/national government.
Devolution was supposed to disperse power to the grassroots. Nairobi doesn’t need devolution. Nairobians need services; they want a clean and efficiently run administration, flowing tap water and proper sanitation in the slums, functional street lights and security cameras and durable solutions to major issues like traffic gridlock.
If, instead, they persist with governors who seem content simply to get into office and who allow a state of anarchy (boda bodas given free rein to get into every corner, whole lanes on the road near Wakulima market taken up by peddlers causing huge inconveniences to the thousands emerging from Eastlands every morning), Nairobi will lose its place in the sun and the whole of Kenya will be the poorer.
It would be interesting to know just one thing this Nairobi administration claims to have achieved. Kidero will certainly exit after 2017.
But, if I were writing the Constitution, he would be Nairobi’s last elected governor. The capital city is the seat of power. It doesn’t need devolution.
It needs the efficiency and effectiveness witnessed in the all-too-brief heyday when John Gakuo was in charge at City Hall. The Nairobi governor should be appointed, not elected.