Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko’s chauvinistic Madaraka Day attack on Woman Representative Esther Passaris was uncalled-for, shameful, disgraceful and utterly uncouth. It was a horrible display that is beneath what is expected of someone at the helm of the county that hosts the national capital.
Mr Sonko must not be allowed to continue treating other people — more so, fellow leaders — with such contempt. His conduct was unbelievably childish. His outburst against Ms Passaris is, perhaps, the lowest this man has sunk in recent times. A person who has no respect for fellow leaders and the people who elected him is a big disgrace. His frequent base antics are sickening.
Further, by Mr Sonko showing up for the Madaraka Day celebrations in a city askari’s uniform, with decorations that were, most likely, meant to mimic the attire of the Commander-in-Chief, he was not only disrespectful of the disciplined forces and other organisations where the uniform is the symbol of the dignity and status earned through achievement and performance but also an apparent blatant insult to them.
Donning the uniform and regalia is an honour that only the President enjoys, especially for ceremonial occasions. If this was meant to be a joke, then Governor Sonko should be reminded that leadership is not stand-up comedy.
The circus that is the current city county leadership has gone on for rather too long. Mr Sonko should not behave as if he owns the county. As a leader, he is expected to conduct himself with decorum and discharge his duties to the expectation of this high office. The Constitution and the Leadership and Integrity Act require that state officers at all times conduct themselves and behave in a manner that brings honour to the office they hold and respects the citizens and other leaders.
However, Mr Sonko has chosen to perennially engage in juvenile actions that are not only demeaning but also outlandish.
More than a year since his deputy resigned, citing difficulty in working with him, Mr Sonko has preferred to single-handedly run the county. He has also made it almost impossible for the county executives to manage their various portfolios. They live in the grip of uncertainty, not knowing when he will be ranting against them and hurling abuse at them in public — or when they will be sacked or reshuffled, this having happened at least six times.
Mr Sonko’s flawed approach to managing the county must be stopped. He should not be allowed to irredeemably mess up everything. Nairobi deserves a better leadership that is respectful, efficient, knowledgeable and experienced in handling its vast mandate.
Sadly, Mr Sonko is not alone in this. Other governors have also engaged in conduct that is disgraceful and borders on criminality.
In neighbouring Kiambu County, for instance, Governor Ferdinand Waititu and his deputy, Dr James Njoro, do not see eye to eye, and their rivalry threatens to derail programmes and projects meant to benefit the people who elected them in 2017. In fact, Mr Waititu took advantage of presiding over Madaraka Day in his county to dress down Dr Nyoro, which was most impropriate. National celebrations were not the right forum for that.
Several governors are facing charges over corruption and other crimes. The real losers are the voters, who elected these people expecting mature and effective leadership to solve their socioeconomic problems.
Mr Sonko’s tirade against Ms Passaris brings to mind memories of the similarly shameful incident where his predecessor, Dr Evans Kidero, reportedly slapped then-Woman Rep Rachel Shebesh.
We want to believe that the male occupants of the office of Governor of Nairobi do not come wired to demean, harass, assault and insult women leaders as a means to staying in power and, hence, mismanage the county without being held to account. Let Mr Sonko and whoever will come after him know that a Woman Rep position is an elective post and the holder should be treated with the respect deserving of the office.
Actually, Mr Sonko seems to forget that Ms Passaris was elected in 2017 with as many votes — around 800,000-plus — and is, therefore, not his minion but has the full mandate of the people.
The big question is: For how long will the capital city have to endure Mr Sonko’s inept leadership? He should do the city residents, and himself, a favour by immediately resigning so that he can return to the trenches, where his crude manners are cheered by those, who like him, do not know any better.