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Sonko succession heats up at City Hall

Wednesday December 11 2019

mike sonko

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko at Milimani Law Courts on December 9, 2019, where he was indicted over graft. He has no deputy to take over from him if he steps aside. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NATION TEAM
By NATION TEAM
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With beleaguered Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko’s fate hanging in the balance as he faces court today, wheels of his succession have already been set in motion.

And, as Kenyatta National Hospital confirmed that Sonko was admitted at the facility Tuesday morning, the Nation has learnt that there are intricate plans to spare the county a leadership crisis as Sonko is expected to step aside and face his accusers in court.

IMPEACHMENT

Those privy to the developments say Sonko is expected to name a deputy with a potential candidate’s name having been floated.

Should he ignore the counsel, then the stage is set for a by-election resulting from an impeachment motion or suspension of the county.

The Nation learned the name of a potential deputy governor has been floated to Sonko to consider appointing for the position that has been vacant since Mr Polycarp Igathe resigned in January last year.

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“The plan is there although I can’t reveal the name. Judge Mumbi Ngugi’s ruling just said governors not to access their offices but are still in office, with all their powers.

“There’s still no agreement on how to move forward with the issue of the deputy, but what I know is that this is the end for the guy. They don’t want him to come back,” the source, who sought anonymity, said.

UNCHARTED

The assembly postponing its recess for the second time has lent credence to the idea it could be readying itself to discuss either the nominee for deputy governor or come up with a way forward to steer the county in the rough and uncharted waters.

The assembly was to break for the December recess last week, but that plan was shelved as Ward Reps pushed the adjournment to today.

There is an indication that the assembly calendar will be adjusted again today to allow for the sittings to continue until the impasse is resolved.

Nairobi County Assembly Minority Whip Peter Imwatok told the Nation they were considering extending its sittings.

“We’re extending because of the circumstances in Nairobi right now. We’ve to extend to make sure the county is on course. I’m not certain until when because it will be decided by the House Business Committee,” Mr Imwatok said.

HOSPITAL CAGEY

Both the KNH management and the Prisons Service remained mum on Sonko’s health even as warders and Administration Police officers maintained tight security at the entrance of ward 10B where the governor was being treated, pending the ruling on his bail application today.

The hospital limited access to the governor and allowed only his family and authorities to visit him.

“I can confirm that we have the governor and we are treating him, but he’s still under the care of prison authorities. That is why his visits have been limited to them and members of his family,” Ezekiel Gikambi, KNH public relations officer, said.

As doctors remained cagey on Sonko’s health, sources at the hospital denied claims that he had hypertension.

They said the governor has been getting food from home during his stay at the 10th floor private wing of the hospital.

NO COMMENT

The governor reportedly fell ill on Monday night, a few hours after his defence team’s lead counsel Cecil Miller told Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti that Sonko was sick and needed medical attention after allegedly being roughed up by the officers who arrested him in Voi.

State House on Tuesday refused to comment on whether it was getting involved in the matter even as sources indicated that the proposed deputy has the blessings of the house on the hill.

Contacted, President Kenyatta’s spokesperson Kanze Dena said “no comment”.

She also refused to say whether the President would act on the request by the Council of Governors for an emergency meeting of the Summit — the highest organ in intergovernmental relations — to discuss the situation in Nairobi.

PARABLES

Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju confirmed that the party is concerned with the events unfolding at City Hall, but insisted it will wait until the court gives its verdict today.

“These issues are of great concern to us as a party. But we are waiting for the court's action before we get involved,” he said.

Speaking in parables, Mr Tuju likened the situation to a patient in hospital. “There is no way a family can start preparations for a burial when the patient is still in hospital. We can do nothing now until the court gives a direction. We shall then get involved.”

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja said the Senate will review the court's decision on Sonko’s bail application and take a common stand.

“We’re waiting to see what the court is going to say in respect of Judge Ngugi’s ruling and we hope that he also gives direction since we do not have a deputy governor.

PARTY POSITION

“If he does not, then we will sit together as Senate, consult and see if we can go to court for direction because the court cannot create a roadblock and not give you a way out. We will make sure there is no leadership vacuum in Nairobi,” he said.

MCAs in the opposition have also organised a Kamukunji to discuss the issue.

The meeting of ODM Ward Reps is informed by the need to take a position and get direction from the party on the unfolding events.

“We’re going to seek the advice of our party on the position we are going to take in the interest of Nairobi people. We’re looking forward to giving a direction backed by our party position''.

60 DAYS

“As far as we are concerned, in the absence of the governor and the deputy, the Speaker takes charge for a period of time but the lacuna is on who takes over after the lapse of the 60 days if the case drags on for years,” said Mr Imwatok, who is also the Makongeni Ward MCA.

He said the prevailing situation has largely been contributed by the Jubilee Party and Sonko, whom he accused of running the county like a private entity.

“The issue of having a deputy governor is not the prerogative of the governor; it is for the party itself to implore Sonko to give them a deputy governor,” Mr Imwatok said.

Stories by Collins Omulo, Ibrahim Oruko and Mary Wambui