Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has maintained that he is still in charge of affairs at the City Hall despite ceding key functions to the national government on Tuesday.
In an interview with the Nation, the beleaguered county chief sought to downplay the now widely held perception that he had been coerced into surrendering his duties to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government.
“Unbeknown to many, the Tuesday event was the culmination of a series of consultations we have had with the President on how best we can serve the people. It does not mean that I cease to be the governor. No, I’m firmly in charge at the City Hall and we remain focused on delivering on the Jubilee manifesto,” the governor said.
He added that he will co-chair the committee that will oversee the daily operations of the city and, with the backing of the President, he was now sure to eliminate the cartels he claimed had been plotting his ouster.
But even as he exuded confidence, a looming impeachment motion could bury him next week. On Friday evening, Jubilee MCAs were summoned to a meeting with the President to be held at State House this morning.
While there were conflicting reports on the agenda of the meeting, a well-placed source at the Office of the President intimated that the lawmakers are likely to be asked to drop the impeachment motion against Sonko.
Appearing not to blame the Jubilee Party for not whipping the lawmakers into line, the governor said: “The MCAs are within their mandate. That is the law.”
He said he had no regrets for agreeing to have the national government take over some of his functions.
“I wish to reiterate my commitment to the Deed of Transfer of Functions that I signed with the national government. I meant well in doing this and in due course, I will be vindicated,’” he said.
He observed that the devolved unit alone had no capacity to deliver on its mandate without the support of State House.
“Show me any capital city in the world where the national government has no say in its day-to-day operations. It is in line with best practices,” he said.
Mr Sonko is facing corruption charges in court and has been barred from setting foot at his City Hall office, forcing him to operate from his private offices.
At the same time, reports of conflict of interest among key individuals clearing pending bills at the Nairobi County government have rocked the process, even drawing the attention of the Auditor-General.
Ms Nancy Wanjiku Kahiga, the sole director of Nanku Company (Kenya) Limited, has been fingered by the National Audit office.
Ms Kahiga is the mother of Finance and Economic Planning executive Pauline Nyambura Kahiga Waititu, the official who, alongside Dr Washington Makodingo (chief officer), are paying out the pending bills running into billions of shillings.
A fortnight ago, Ms Kahiga wrote to the county secretary, drawing his attention to an instance she claims some Sh3.3 million paid for the construction of a perimeter fence around Dandora 1 Health Centre is captured as paid out twice in the Ifmis. In the letter, she says the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) had been demanding taxes for the second payment.
“The turn of events has undoubtedly portrayed the company in bad light as far as tax compliance is concerned, thus greatly injuring the company’s image and reputation in the eyes of KRA and other stakeholders. Write a letter addressed to KRA with a copy to the company setting straight the facts captured in this letter and exonerating the company over the unfortunate allegation of being non-compliant with tax obligations,” she said.
In the examination, the AG flags the Dandora tender under the conflict of interest clause in the Procurement Act.
“Examination of procurement records kept by the Nairobi City county executive revealed that Sh1.8 billion was paid to companies related to the county executive employees contrary to section 66 (7) of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act 2015,” wrote Ms Lucy Mwangi on behalf of the Auditor-General.
This past week, Dr Makodingo and Ms Kahiga, two officials who the governor wants out of office, have been clearing pending bills owed to suppliers and contractors.
In a response, Mr Mwenda Njoka (the government printer), who had sought advice on Governor Sonko’s move to replace Ms Kahiga as Finance CEC with Mr Allan Igambi, the AG on February 21 said the governor had acted within his authority despite facing graft charges in court.
“The decision by the governor to reshuffle the County Executive Committee, including by appointing a substantive County Executive Committee member for Finance and Economic Planning is sound in law. In the circumstances, it is our considered opinion that as the law currently stands, there is no legal basis for the Government Printer’s decision not to effect the above mentioned degazettments as requested by the county government,” Ms Mwangi from the office of the Attorney-General said.
Ms Kahiga and Dr Makodingo, on one hand, are embroiled in a tussle with the governor on which bills should be cleared.
“It is malicious and insincere for people to claim that my reorganisation of the Finance Department was inspired by my desire to benefit from the pending bills. On the contrary, I have been consistent in ensuring Nairobians get value for their money, and that fictitious Bills are never paid under my watch,” the governor said Friday.
Saying that as the people’s representative he had the right to ensure only deserving firms were paid, the governor accused Ms Kahiga of “refusing to vacate office and directing the making of illegal payments, working in cahoots with former chief officer Economic Planning, Washington Odhiambo Makodingo”.
He cited the construction of Likoni Links Road that has dragged for years with little sign of completion even as the contractor, Elite ITS Limited, received Sh32 million on Monday despite being blacklisted by the County’s Public Accounts Committee.