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Revive the capital but avoid errors at ballot

Wednesday February 26 2020

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Nairobi residents can now heave a sigh of relief following the exit of the disgraced Governor Mike Sonko. All along, the public have agonised over ways of getting rid of Sonko, a cantankerous fellow who hurtled from one disaster to another but, blinded by tunnel vision, thought he was smarter than everyone.

Opinion is divided, but the decision by the national government to take over the management of core functions of the Nairobi City County government was long in coming. Nairobi could not afford to operate on autopilot as Governor Sonko had been barred from office by the court pending the resolution of a criminal case against him.

His two-year reign at City Hall demonstrated what lack of knowledge, moral depravity and hubris can visit on a people. Nairobi sunk to its lowest depth under Sonko, a man for whom order and rule of law do not count. The city government is dysfunctional as he routinely and whimsically sacked or tossed around top officials. The county operated without a deputy governor following the exit of Polycarp Igathe, who found it untenable to work under an eccentric and deluded individual.

County executives, chief officers and other top county officials met the wrath and vengeance of Sonko, who believed only on his abilities. Critics suffered under Sonko, who never missed a chance to flaunt power, wealth and connectedness.

Nairobi reels under poor services. Health, education and infrastructure are collapsing. Environmental degradation, aggravated by non-collection of garbage and unplanned and haphazard construction, is an unmitigated disaster. Revenue collections dwindled as financial pilferage rose. Corruption and theft of public resources became the order of the day.

Sonko was a national scandal. He epitomised all that is bad and ugly. Regrettably, he did not just happen. Sane and reasonable people voted him in. With the benefit of hindsight, never again should voters be misguided by party and ethnic sentiments to bring dishonour to themselves by electing such a character.


Besides, Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission must conduct a thorough investigation and lock out social misfits and academic failures from national leadership. It’s a shame that with his devious background and questionable academic credentials, Sonko was cleared to vie for the capital city’s top seat.

But the hard work now begins. The national government has to quickly create systems and structures for managing the county. Here was a precarious situation. Drastic action was inexorable. Henceforth, the governors of other counties must learn that those who mess up and fail to deliver can be ousted.