How Sonko cooked his own goose leading to Uhuru city takeover

By , K24 Digital
On Thu, 27 Feb, 2020 08:53 | 2 mins read
Uhuru takeover
Standing from left: President Uhuru Kenyatta and Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka. Seated: Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa and Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko. PHOTO | PSCU

Many have remarked that the flamboyant Nairobi City governor, Mike Sonko, seems to be his own worst enemy and little did it appear to anyone that he would lose control of City Hall with the stroke of a pen.

A State House insider has revealed to People Daily that Governor Sonko, who is already facing a corruption case, pushed President Uhuru Kenyatta to the wall, leaving him with no choice but to put the interests of Eastern Africa’s most robust capital first.

The source revealed that the sacking of a senior City Hall official, the acting Nairobi County Secretary Leboo ole Morintat and replacing him with his ally, was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is said to have been infuriated by the governor’s action which sought to reestablish his authority by filling City Hall with his loyalists despite the court having barred him from office until his Sh357 million corruption is over.

The Head of State worried that the sacking could hinder service delivery and destabilize the capital city.

“Without a substantive deputy who could supervise the Cabinet it means the county was exposed. The only official remaining to oversee the county bureaucracy was the County Secretary. His removal and replacement with a person in acting capacity meant that Nairobi was left with no government,” said the State House insider.

Sonko replaced Morintant with Justus Kadhenge in an acting capacity pending his approval by the Nairobi ward representatives.

According to People Daily, the President resolved that the dissolution of the county, a constitutional solution, would have proved long and risk too many legal challenges given Kenyans penchant for seeking injunctions.

Already, the perennial petitioner Okiya Omtatah and a Nairobi activist Robinson Murimi Karani have moved to court separately to challenge the transfer of the four City Hall dockets to the National Government.

“The end game of the President’s move is to hand over the management of the City County to the Nairobi Regeneration Team which he appointed in 2018. It is the President’s thinking that Governor Sonko is out of his depth,” said the source.

The two petitioners want Sonko, the county government, national Executive and the Attorney-General barred from enforcing, implementing or effecting the agreement signed on Tuesday, February 25.

“The governor was not authorised to make the decision and he denied Nairobi residents and the county government a reasonable opportunity to make their case,” said Karani in court documents.

President Kenyatta invoked provisions of Article 187 to enter into an agreement to transfer functions of the Nairobi County, namely: Health, Transport, Public Works and Planning.

The Nairobi Regeneration Team was mandated with the delivery of key services, including garbage collection, clean-up of Nairobi River and launching a mortgage firm when it was established.

Sonko co-chairs the team with Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala.

“Even as this team agreement comes into effect, the other functions and roles of the County Government of Nairobi including legislation on matters that concern Nairobi will remain with the elected leaders of the County Assembly,” said Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa.

CS Wamalwa, Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka were part of the team that oversaw the signing of the City Hall dockets transfer at State House, Nairobi on Tuesday.

The Devolution boss said a technical team had been formed to create structures for City Hall management and that the transferred ministries will be returned to the county once a demonstration of capacity is reestablished.