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Twists and turns of power rows in the city

Sunday August 02 2020
son-ela

The supremacy wars between Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko (left) and County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi (right) continue, with both flexing their political muscles. PHOTOS | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By TOM MSHINDI

Building a police station at Nairobi County Hall may curb the confrontations there but it will neither resolve the leadership crisis that has paralysed operations of the county assembly nor heal divisions so deep the protagonists have lost sight of what they were fighting for.

For a county once seen as the possible cradle in which to nurture presidents and other national leaders, the fights have left the city government in a sorry state.

The fight that is apparently is pitting County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi against Governor Mike Sonko is a proxy battle where the real protagonists are Governor Sonko and Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS) head Mohammed Badi, and by extension President Uhuru Kenyatta and his handshake confidant Raila Odinga.

Elachi sits in the middle, receiving the punches because she is the one detailed to control Sonko through the assembly. And such is the unprincipled character of the ward representatives that Governor Sonko is able to stir mischief in spite of the position Jubilee and ODM party leaderships have taken.

Last week’s mayhem is the latest episode of a saga that has been running since Mr Sonko became governor. Initially, he collaborated with the then majority leader and impeached Ms Elachi, who was later reinstated by the court.

IMPEACHMENT MOTION

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The governor, then supporting the reinstated Speaker, threw out Majority Leader Abdi Guyo and others from the assembly board.

But the Speaker had a new mission as part of the package of her return – remove the governor through an impeachment motion. This brewed acrimony, with Mr Sonko starting a counter move to impeach the Speaker.

As the seesaw played out, the State initiated a plan to tame the governor and ostensibly install a more effective structure for the city. Ward representatives were summoned to State House and told to go easy with the Sonko impeachment plan. The county could get an alternative management structure in return.

This was the deed of transfer Sonko signed in February, which handed over to the NMS four key functions at the heart of the county administration – health, planning and development, transport, public works, utilities and ancillary services that combined account for more than 75 per cent of Nairobi budget.

In return for signing off his authority, Sonko was spared impeachment and possibly got a reprieve from the corruption charges confronting him and for which he was, at one point accused of attempting to run away from, with a highly dramatised arrest in Voi.

What he did not realise – perhaps as he claims he was drunk during the signing at State House – the deed of transfer left him a lame duck governor and exposed him and his actions to the scrutiny of NMS.

The agency started repossessing county property taken over under dubious circumstances. One such is land intended for a fire station in Gigiri that Mr Sonko took from a developer, only for it to end up in the hands of another private developer! The NMS has gone after another piece on land in Westlands on which a hospital is being built.

A third piece in Lavington on which sits a house intended for former mayors of the then Nairobi municipality two weeks ago was the scene of a confrontation between Sonko and NMS.

Meanwhile, Sonko is arguing the matter of the transfer deed in court and its decision may add another twist in the tale of a leadership wrangle so convoluted a police station will hardly register as a beat in the disjointed orchestra!

 Tom Mshindi is a former Chief Editor of the Nation Group and is now Managing Partner at Blue Crane Global consulting. [email protected], @tmshindi

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