Sonko’s trouble keeping friends as he lives in ‘unfounded fears’

Sunday September 29 2019

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko who has suspended 14 county officials recently. The suspensions follow a chain of high profile falling-out between Governor Mike Sonko and his officers. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The recent suspension of Nairobi County Finance Executive Charles Kerich and his Health counterpart Mohamed Dagane follows a chain of high profile falling-out between Governor Mike Sonko and his officers.

To some, this is an indication that the governor takes no prisoners, not even his close friends; but to others, it is a continuation of his symptomatic chaotic reign since 2017.

Those who have gained any clout or felt comfortable with their closeness to Mr Sonko have either been suspended to clip their growing influence or cast aside altogether as he sees them as a threat to his powers within and without the county.


In only two years, more than five close friends have been shown the door in inexplicable circumstances, with critics describing him as a person who “operates in unfounded fears”.

The first casualties were his personal assistant Bernard Mulwa, delivery unit deputy director Joseph Ireri and Michael Mutua in November 2017 for allegedly soliciting bribes from youths with promise of jobs.


The falling-out with Mr Mulwa was soon followed by the resignation of Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe.


During the campaigns, Mr Sonko had intimated that his deputy would be in charge of policy owing to his corporate background while he would deal with county politics; but that soon changed as sources said that Mr Igathe soon found himself reduced to an “errand boy”.

A post on his Twitter account as he resigned told it all.

“Dear Nairobians, it is with a heavy heart that I resign as elected deputy governor of Nairobi County effective 1pm on 31 Jan 2018. I regret I have failed to earn the trust of the Governor to enable me to drive the administration and management of the county.”

Fast forward to 2019, the suspension of Mr Kerich followed a similar script, considering he had grown in stature since being appointed ICT and E-Government Executive in 2017 and rising through the ranks to hold the Finance docket as well as being confirmed as the Super CEC to oversee other executives.


His fall from glory came with his brief stint as Lands and Urban Planning Executive and so he was suspended over the death of eight pupils of Precious Talent School, over an approval that was done 19 years ago.

But it is not lost on people that cracks had started emerging and at a retreat in Mombasa last month, Mr Sonko made veiled attacks at Mr Kerich when he accused some of his executives of “working with his enemies” to undermine him, creating another centre of power, insubordination and lack of loyalty.

For the soft-spoken Mr Dagane who became an executive following intervention of a powerful leader from the County Assembly, Mr Sonko let the cat out of the bag in July when the executive missed a meeting with a Senate committee.

“These are some of the executives I am telling you think they have God Fathers and can do as they please,” Sonko told the senators.


Moreover, in September last year, former County Attorney Lydia Kwamboka — who was the governor’s close friend and a lawyer who worked with the governor on the 2012 Sinai fire tragedy victims — was sacked last year over “insubordination” following Pumwani Hospital’s dead infants’ saga.

She was sent home together with former County Secretary Peter Kariuki, acting Health executive Vesca Kangogo, and Health Chief Officer Mahat Jimale.

Nevertheless, one of the most dramatic falling-out involved former Education Executive Janet Ouko in January.

The governor claimed that the former executive presided over the plunder of millions of shillings from the county upon which she moved to court.

Ms Ouko remains one of the few people to have dared to take on the governor face on.