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OPINION: Sakaja in a tight spot as corruption war attracts ‘enemies’

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja is a man under attack.

In the past few months, the county boss has faced a myriad of allegations touching on misapproriations of public funds, which, in my opinion, have been fueled by disillusioned officials and politicians whose space to influence corrupt deals have been derailed.

Claims that some nine companies were paid for supplies that were never made to the county government has come at a time when the governor has shown intent to fight graft in his government.

For starters, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) is investigating reports of fraud at City Hall as fingers point at Sakaja’s administrations following reports companies were paid for supply of ‘air’.

While time will tell whether the claims are true or otherwise, it is imperative to interrogate the reasons why the allegations have suddenly risen against the governor, who is barely a year into office.

Indications are that corruption is fighting back after Sakaja sealed loopholes in expenditure and streamlined operations.

When the youthful Sakaja was overwhelmingly elected to office, he made his appointments to the County Executive Committee from across the political divide, a move that rubbed feathers the wrong way with many politicians affiliated to his United Democratic Alliance (UDA) of the opinion that the appointments were supposed to go solely to the ruling Kenya Kwanza coalition whilst Sakaja was of the opinion he had been elected by all residents of Nairobi to serve equally.

That is when the criticism began.

Powerful forces in government are said to be sponsoring most of this contrary opinion with some even questioning the ongoing construction of hawkers shades in the Central Business District (CBD).

That notwithstanding, the hawkers will now pay their cess to the county government, thus denying cartels the chance to pocket illegal payments as has been the case.

As well, the green park bus terminus was yet another project which ruffled feathers at city hall.

The Sakaja administration made plans to have long distance public service vehicles start and end their journeys at the terminus but some senior government officials took issue with the plan to move the upcountry vehicles, specifically from Mount Kenya piling pressure to halt the project that had been mooted by the former regime.

It is a common notion that powerful Mount Kenya leaders feel that business in Nairobi is controlled by a large majority from the region therefore seeking to halt the county plans in a bid to claim control.

The employment saga is yet another elephant in the room for Sakaja as he works to make the county government an equal opportunity employer. Cartels with contrary interests have been fighting to get a share of the employment opportunities and resolved to fighting the county boss.

Sympahisers of past county regimes have as well taken to mudslinging the governor due to his approach to complete stalled projects like the Dandora stadium.

The county moved to complete the stadium after the project had stalled over graft allegations by the court and Senate.

Thus, claims of fraud hovering over the governor’s head is a ploy to derail the public from his achievements.

Recently, the Sakaja administration launched a school feeding program dubbed ‘Dishi Na County’ which was temporarily halted by court battles sperhesded by former Education CEC Janet Ouko, a CEC in former governor Mike Sonko’s administration.

The petitioners argued that the 2023/2024 Nairobi City County Budget illegally allocated Ksh.1.2 billion to the program that does not fall under the county; this they say is at the expense of other development programs in Nairobi. The case was thrown out in the courts.

At the same time, a majority of the Members of the Nairobi City County Asembly have questioned the move by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe alleged fraud at City Hall.

The MCAs stated that the recent developments of alleged Investigations by DCI sleuths has been characterised by harassment on city hall employees which the legislators claim is being fueled by cartels at city hall.

Minority Chief Whip and Umoja 1 MCA Mark Mugambi said the detectives need to start by summoning the directors of the stated companies before pitching camp at City Hall if indeed they are serious with the supposed investigations.

The Whip termed the letter by DCI as ‘mere sideshows’ noting that there were people who have taken to spreading false information to try and intimidate junior employees of the county which he said must stop.

Kenn Okaka is a media and communications consultant