Will Sonko ride out latest storm? The jury is out

Wednesday March 18 2020
By COLLINS OMULO

The stage has now been set for the impeachment of embattled Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko with the tabling of a motion for his removal from office.

On Thursday, Minority Whip Peter Imwatok tabled a notice to impeach Mr Sonko. The motion must therefore be tabled at the expiry of seven days from the day the notice was given.

The Makongeni Ward representative has said that he is now preparing evidence and documents to prove his accusations against the governor.

Mr Imwatok accuses the governor of a litany of misdeeds, ranging from abuse of office to corruption and violation of the Constitution, as grounds for his removal from office.

He explained that at the expiry of the seven days from the day the notice of motion, it will be put on the Order Paper and should be fully dispensed with within three days of the sittings of the assembly.

“I am just waiting for the day to present my evidence and documents then wait for Mr Sonko to come and defend himself before we impeach him,” said Mr Imwatok on Saturday.

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The impeachment cloud has been hanging over the city boss since last year December, when he was arrested and arraigned in a Sh357 million graft case before being barred from accessing his office at City Hall.

But now the fate of the man who started off as a Makadara MP is in the hands of the city Members of County Assembly.

Observers say the governor’s goose is cooked.

With the process being spearheaded by opposition party ODM, who are the minority side, all eyes are now on the Jubilee Party MCAs, the party that also sponsored Mr Sonko to City Hall.

The Nairobi County Assembly has 122 MCAs, with Jubilee Party having 66 and the opposition coalition, the National Super Alliance, sharing the other 56 slots.

For the impeachment motion to sail through, at least 82 MCAs — which is the requisite two-thirds majority — must vote in its support.

This is where party loyalty counts. But how best Governor Sonko whips the MCAs to his side will determine the outcome.

Mr Sonko’s chances of survival appear remote in the face of a galvanised ODM, a divided Jubilee and his falling out of favour with the leaders of the parties represented.

ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna, on Wednesday made it clear that the party would not interfere with the power granted directly by the people to MCAs in exercise of any of their functions, including oversight of the Executive.

The same message has also been coming from Jubilee Party’s top leadership, with secretary-general Raphael Tuju on several occasions saying that they will not interfere in he matter.

At the assembly, Jubilee has been divided since the falling-out between the former Majority Leader Abdi Guyo and Mr Sonko last September.

Currently, the City Hall boss has the support of fewer than 20 Jubilee MCAs, most of them nominated. On the minority side, seven representatives have been supporting him but a few have lately left his side.

Last Wednesday, the governor met with 53 reps at his private office in Upper Hill to strategise on how to scuttle the process, but the following day it emerged that 62 MCAs had appended their signatures on the notice of motion, sending ominous signs for the governor.

A number of the remaining ward representatives said they were ready to sign on, but had not been approached while others said they were waiting to see the grounds for the ouster bid.

“We are going to win the game because my fellow MCAs can see how the county is going to the dogs,” said Mr Imwatok. “The  time of reckoning will come and they will make a decision. They are going to execute it professionally.” 

Embakasi MCA Michael Ogada echoed Mr Imwatok’s assertions, adding that they are sure of the support of at least 100 MCAs.

“We will get support from across the House. Most Jubilee MCAs have assured us of their support but just fear coming out publicly. In ODM, we have some turncoats but under instruction they will toe the line,” said Mr Ogada.

An influential Jubilee MCA said that they are now ready to impeach the governor asserting that Sonko’s goose was cooked once he fell out with Mr Guyo, who has a lot of influence among the Jubilee MCAs.

“At least 90 MCAs will vote for the removal of Mr Sonko. He only has like five elected MCAs and some nominated ones. We cannot run a county government through lies, intimidation and corruption,” he said.

Last Wednesday, former acting Speaker and Ngara Ward MCA Chege Mwaura said he was waiting for the grounds of the censure motion to make up his mind.

“I am eagerly waiting to see the grounds presented by the proponents of the impeachment motion. If I am convinced, I shall vote yes but if not then I shall do the contrary.”

Once the MCAs vote in favour of the impeachment, Governor Sonko will have a chance to defend himself at the Senate.

However, the decision by the wards reps might just seal Mr Sonko’s fate having no good relations with most of the senators.

“We are just waiting for the Nairobi Assembly to do its job then when it comes before us, we will also do our part. But I can assure you that we will not save him,” said one senator.