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Badi-Sonko battle over Nairobi County resources far from over

Wednesday July 29 2020
badi

Nairobi Metropolitan Services Director-General Mohamed Badi. For the past four months, the city has witnessed a battle for the control of resources pitting him and Governor Sonko. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By SILAS APOLLO

For the past four months, the city has witnessed a battle for the control of resources pitting Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko against Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) Director-General Mohamed Badi.

Observers say the wrangles – whose genesis was the transfer of key functions from the devolved unit to the national government in March – could affect services if a solution is not found fast.

At the centre of the war is the control of the multi-billion shilling revenue basket as well as allocations from the government, which were under Mr Sonko.

A chunk of the money has now been transferred to the newly created NMS.

Mr Sonko says the transfer did not follow the required procedure and that vital organs like the city county assembly were not consulted.

NULLIFY DEED

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He now wants the deed of transfer nullified. 

The governor says Nairobians were not consulted as required by the Constitution.

“I was just told it is a good thing for continuity of services as I deal with my court cases,” the governor said weeks after signing the deed in February.

“Since I love the people, I had to accept the agreement even without going through the document. I did not know things would turn against us.”

Other leaders have also criticised the move, likening it to militarising a democratically elected leadership.

It is a view that the governor and his supporters fully back.

“The Nairobi County government has been militarised. It is no longer a civilian government,” Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said just weeks before being removed from the Senate majority leader’s position.

MILITARY MEN

“It is shocking to witness active military men, who are supposed to operate in barracks and the country’s borders, running a civilian government yet this house is sitting here clapping.”

Mr Badi has dismissed the claims, calling them false, baseless and misguided.

He says only six out of the 7,500 NMS workers are from the military.

“Everybody else is recruited by the Public Service Commission. How can that be militarisation? Every officer in the NMS has been seconded by a State office. We did not come her by ourselves,” the NMS director-general said.

COUNTY PROPERTY

Apart from the transfer of key county government functions, Governor Sonko and the NMS boss are also embroiled in a fight for the control of county property.

These include the governor’s official residence in Lavington estate.

Mr Steve Ogolla, a lawyer, says the wrangles between Mr Sonko and Mr Badi are political and not about the legality of the transfer deed.

“Resisting the transfer deed has no legal basis,” Mr Ogolla told the Nation.

“The deed has not been challenged by anyone in a court of law. There are many ways of doing it if that were to happen. It would require a legal or constitutional interpretation. Alternatively, the parties can opt for arbitration.”

LOSING SUPPORT

Mr Charles Munyui, a political commentator, says Mr Sonko’s opposition to the transfer could be attributed to the fear that he could be losing support owing to the performance of the General Badi-led team.

“Sonko ceded the functions because he was not performing, and in doing so, thought he would still have control over the NMS,” Mr Munyui said.

“But that proved not to be the case and his feeling is that the NMS has exposed him. He now does not have the support of Nairobians. There are some who fear that the transfer could trigger a permanent decision to take back certain functions to the national government.”


In the March deal, Mr Sonko agreed to surrendered functions such as the provision of health services, planning and development services, transport, public works, utilities and ancillary services to the NMS, all which consumed more than 75 percent of the county budget.

The governor also lost control of the collection of revenue after the national government appointing the Kenya Revenue Authority to take charge of the county’s purse.

SERVICE DELIVERY

At the time of the transfer, the move was aimed at averting a possible disruption of service delivery, after the governor was accused of corruption by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

The county assembly and the executive, had also been embroiled in a turf war which leaders in the county said risked disrupting service delivery, coupled with the mass exodus of senior officials and staff of the county, including county executive committee members who accused the governor of blackmail and intimidation.

But the county boss remains adamant that the process must unlawful and will stop at nothing to challenge it.

The deed however, indicates that any attempt to reverse the transfer which is set to lapse in 24 months, can only be done through a mutual written consent agreement between the two levels of government, or through a sanction from national and the county government coordinating summit chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

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