City waits with bated breath for its next Governor

Saturday August 5 2017

Governor Evans Kidero (left) and Senator Mike Sonko

Governor Evans Kidero (left) and Senator Mike Sonko. They are running for the top county seat. PHOTOS | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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As the biggest city in eastern Africa, Nairobi is saddled with many challenges, ranging from its status as a metropolis to the despicable poverty that ravages residents of its 60-plus informal settlements.

From crime, traffic jams, piles of garbage, water shortage to mushrooming of filthy slums and lack of health and sanitation facilities, the problems bedevilling the city are legion and complicated.

There are governance problems, too where City Hall, the seat of the county government is stuck in the rut of corruption in procurement of goods and services and revenue leakages that have undermined service delivery.

The problem of cartels cannot be wished away, too, particularly because powerful individuals with high-level protection have captured the city, raking in billions of shillings in dirty deals but supplying nothing in terms of goods and services.

In just over four years, the city has gobbled up about Sh100 billion of the equitable shareable revenue, in addition to billions of shillings the county makes through internally generated revenue.

Yet the basic problems of Nairobi still stand out like a sore thumb.

It goes without saying that Nairobi ranks top among the filthiest cities in the world with ever growing dirty slums.

What may be of concern to the incoming governor is the revelations by Governor Evans Kidero that the national government owes Nairobi County Sh72 billion in land rate arrears and other services delivered to the national government.

Just how this debt will be settled is the immediate and urgent problem that will confront the next governor of Nairobi.

Dr Kidero has claimed that Deputy President William Ruto has assured Jubilee supporters that the Jubilee regime could settle the figure if it retains power and its national government could be fluffing with the funds for political reasons.

These issues featured prominently during the recent public debate by six individuals who have set their eyes on governing the count, which, alone, holds up to 60 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Mr Godfrey Wanyoike, an independent candidate for the position of governor, and who is vowing to be the elephant that will trample the incumbent in the poll, is promising free water supply for all the slums in Nairobi in his first 100 days in office.

A financial management expert, Mr Wanyoike says he will have to work with the national government to improve the water infrastructure in the capital because, in his view, 40 per cent of the water is lost through sheer wastage and leakages.

“We can manage the supply and reduce leakage,” he says, pointing out that he will provide water to the informal settlements for free or in some instances at subsidised rates.

“Water is life and with it, we can improve sanitation and reduce incidents of such diseases as cholera,” he says.

Agano Party candidate Michael Mutinda says he will put in place a mechanism for recycling water and harvesting rain water as a way of increasing water sources in the city.

“I will add another water catchment system. We are depending on rivers and rain but we need to introduce a system we can harvest rain water and store in reservoirs,” Mr Mutinda, a Bible teacher and a born-again Christian, said.

Barring a miracle, the battle in the city is narrowing down to between Mr Raila Odinga and Mr Uhuru Kenyatta in the presidential race for the city’s 2.3 million voters and the 17 single member constituencies, the senate and woman representative and the governor, just as the case was five years ago.

Much as the 2013 battle was highly contested, Mr Odinga pinched Mr Uhuru with a hair thin margin, managing 691,156 votes against Mr Uhuru’s 659, 490.

But the Jubilee Party paid back, clinching nine of the single constituencies, the woman representative, and senator seats.

Mr Kidero received 692,483 votes to be declared the governor on an ODM ticket, against his closest challenger Ferdinand Waititu who polled 617,839.

Businessman Jimnah Mbaru managed 52,084 votes while former Nairobi Town Clerk Philip Kisia garnered 5,182.


In the Senate race, Mr Mike Gideon Mbuvi polled 808,705 votes against 525,822 for ODM’s Bishop Margaret Wanjiru.

The coming together of the constituent parties within Nasa has bolstered its position and places it in pole position to retain the control of the city’s presidential vote, while at the same time, hoping to eat into Jubilee Party’s strength in Parliament.

And even though he is articulate and speaks the popular language, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s legal advisor, Mr Miguna Miguna unrestrained abrasiveness is scary and off-putting to a majority of voters.


Though good, because it has created the perception of a man ready to confront the problems of the city, yet it could just undermine his bid as he makes his debut in elective politics.

By virtue of the incumbency, Dr Kidero holds a slight advantage, even though not unassailable.

This advantage is polluted by his county government’s less than illuminating performance in the last four years.

By and large, Mr Kidero must blame himself.

Five years ago, he was elected easily by those who saw him as an educated man and a manager who could help fix the city.

The fact that Mr Waititu was his opponent brought out the glaring contrasts and the incumbent sailed through because Nairobians countenance having his rival in charge.

Mr Kidero has disappointed on that score and the middle class has a sense of grievance against one of their own, which could dim Mr Kidero’s chances on Tuesday.

The entry of former Gatanga Peter Kenneth, aka PK, in Nairobi politics has brought its fair share of confusion as it now introduces what political scientist call new facts on the ground.

It remains to be seen how his entry affects the duel that has already taken the shape of a Kidero-Sonko battle.

The popular view is that PK’s entry is detrimental to Mr Sonko as it eats into Jubilee votes and undermines the party’s push to seize the city from the opposition.  

This thinking germinates in part from the feeling that PK will peel away a sizable chunk of the Kikuyu vote, especially from his native Murang’a County.

While this is a possibility, there are those who do not buy it as the course the Kikuyu vote will take in Nairobi is largely dependent on President Uhuru’s edict.

In any case, the senator outjumped many in picking his running mate, Mr Polycarp Igathe; a move that was schemed to calm the fears of the Murang’a people who felt disillusioned by his defeat of PK in the Jubilee primaries.

Mr Kenneth has picked former footballer Daniel Shikanda as a strategy to net the Luhya vote.

While Dr Shikanda has earned his own respect a lot remains to be done in the next few days to win the hearts of the Luhya.

Like PK, Mr Igathe hails from Murang’a, the county in which most of the Nairobi business elite come from.

Yet, Mr Sonko and Mr Kidero slugfest does not mean that the Nasa candidate should dash to Nyayo stadium for the victory lap.

Mr Sonko’s own candidature provide nerve-shredding moments for the incumbent, which should worry Nasa the more as it threatens its stranglehold on the city.

As a Kamba, the senator has the capacity to perforate Mr Kidero dreams if he sweeps away the entire Kamba vote, which the governor is grasping precariously through his running, Mr Jonathan Mueke.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Mr Sonko is hardly defined in ethnic terms, defying the conventional Kenya politics that so much define his colleagues.

Ever since he gate-crashed the party from nowhere in 2010 when he was elected Makadara MP in a by election, to the 2013 senatorial elections where he registered the highest number of votes ever registered by an individual outside the presidential race, Mr Sonko is an undoubted political enigma who has the capacity to painlessly win votes from any ethnic corner. This should worry his opponents.

But the senator faces one hurdle: There is the perception within Jubilee House, that he is a project deployed by the deputy President William Ruto as a scheme to cut PK to size as part of the 2022 succession razzmatazz.