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The fall of Sonko

By Collins Omulo December 29th, 2020 4 min read

The beginning of the political end for former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko began way back in December of 2019 when his attempt to escape arrest was thwarted by Police in Voi, Taita Taveta County.

From then on, it was a slippery road down the hill for the flamboyant politician as his bid to challenge the authorities fell flat even as he lost one political battle after as he fought to stay in power.

Feeling cornered after being charged with misappropriation of Sh357 million at City Hall, Sonko retaliated by going on a rampage and picking fights with every enemy, real or perceived.

In March, Sonko would pick a fight with Kitusuru MCA Alvin Palapala after what appeared a private disagreement between the two.

He accused Palapala of being among Nairobi MCAs who diverted bursary funds meant for needy students to their shadowy companies.

The second term MCA said that his woes started when he questioned Sonko’s frequent reshuffling, suspension, and sacking of county staff occasioning their fallout.

“This is a war between me and Sonko that started in 2018. He is trying to intimidate me because I signed his impeachment motion and having called him out for constantly reshuffling his cabinet. Let him come out clearly and show me where I signed any bursary cheque,” said Palapala.

This was after the former Makadara MP had survived a censure motion against brought sponsored by Minority Whip Peter Imwatok.

Soon after, the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) was born with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s blessings.  Major General Mohammed Badi was named its Director-General.

Sonko then signed to transfer four-county functions of health, transport, public works, utilities and ancillary services, and county planning and development to NMS.

Not one to shy away from public spats, Sonko turned Badi to his punching bag when the former City Hall boss felt relegated to the periphery of running of affairs of the capital city.

The two leaders would be embroiled in never-ending turf wars including health services, payment of services, salaries to staff and revenue collection.

Sonko, in a bid to frustrate the operations of NMS, refused to hand over to NMS projects under the transferred functions, the county’s payroll with the latter insisting it is the bona fide owner of the payroll while on the revenue collection, City Hall would go-ahead to run its own digital payment platform parallel to that of NMS.

But even before then, the former City Hall boss had also declined to obey an order by the National Treasury to hand over crucial documents pertaining to the transferred functions.

In April, the National Treasury gave senior City Hall officers four days to submit to the national government crucial documents related to the transferred functions.

This is after it emerged that City Hall was yet to provide to NMS crucial information necessary in aiding the State takeover of four functions, almost a month after the Deed of Transfer of functions took effect.

But Sonko stood his ground failing to submit the needed documents saying his administration will not provide the needed documents while accusing the national government of constantly breaching terms of the Deed of Transfer of functions.

While at it, he would also open a fight with former Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi after the attempt at his impeachment.

Elachi would resign in August blaming power tussles, frustrations, and interference from Sonko for her resignation.

“Governor Sonko, you cannot go on threatening people’s lives and their families. You also have a family. You cannot have everything, just nurture what God has given you,” she said in a statement.

He would then take on Jubilee leadership at the assembly with his on-and-off frenemy Majority Leader Abdi Guyo being mostly on the receiving end.

Together with the opposition, Guyo would mastermind the ouster of Sonko in December, putting to an end his reign at City Hall.

“It is time we send the governor back to Mua Hills as we cannot allow him to sit an extra day in office. I apologise on behalf of the Jubilee Party for having elected an inefficient and incapable governor,” Guyo would say after the impeachment of his nemesis.

Attempts by President Uhuru Kenyatta to broker a truce between Sonko and Badi proved futile with Sonko launching one tirade after the other on the NMS boss at one time calling him “Saddam Hussein”.

In October, the former senator would pick another fight with the Nairobi County Assembly over the passage of the county’s Sh37.5 billion budget.

After the city MCAs approved the budget that left his administration with a paltry Sh8.4 billion against NMS’s Sh27.1 billion, he would decline to assent to the Nairobi City County Appropriation Bill, 2020.

His memorandum rejecting the budget would be shot down by the ward representatives a month later by a total of 88 MCAs.

However, he would hit back by refusing to append his signature on the returned bill and even after its gazettement, decline to sign warrants to allow for its implementation grinding operations of both the county government and NMs in the process.

Sonko would scale his fury a notch higher by taking on President Uhuru Kenyatta whom the former Makadara MP accused of changing for the worse after becoming the president and now not concerned with the plight of the common citizens while also laying bear his displeasure for President Kenyatta’s hand in what is going on in Nairobi County.

He would also claim that the President hoodwinked him into signing the Deed of Transfer of functions in February that gave away four functions to NMS.