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No end in sight to Sonko and Elachi cat-and-mouse game

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COLLINS OMULO

By COLLINS OMULO
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The cat and mouse game between Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and Nairobi Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi over the contentious Supplementary Appropriation Bill seems far from over.

This comes after the Speaker said that the Mr Sonko failed to meet the deadline in returning his memorandum to assembly for review.

She said she had the letter rejecting the Bill that allocated Sh15 billion to Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS) for transferred functions way after the original Bill he had been resent to Mr Sonko for assent had already become law.

Interestingly, the governor’s letter is dated April 21, 2020, three days before the deadline day.

Speaker Elachi, however, said the letter arrived way past 4pm after the expiry of the seven days provided for in the law for the governor to assent to the Bill into law after she returned his memorandum last week, April 17, 2020.

“I have received communication from the governor that he is resubmitting the memorandum for consideration but he did so past 4pm when government institutions are closed due to the current curfew in place,” said Ms Elachi.

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“He had seven days to respond but chose to do so at 4pm on the deadline day which is unacceptable,” she added, making it clear that she is not fighting the governor but is only following the provisions of the Constitution.

She subsequently advised Governor Sonko to submit a second supplementary budget after consultation with the NMS as the contested Supplementary Appropriation Bill had already taken effect. 

Ms Elachi told the City Hall boss, in preparation of the supplementary budget number two following one approved by the county assembly in February this year, to bring before the assembly a sector-specific budget in order to avoid the back and forth with the finance executive.

“I am sorry to inform him that the only thing he can do is do a supplementary number two because this one has already taken effect. We only have one month left and I wish he could accept the guidance that we are giving him for the sake of Nairobians,” she said.

In Governor Sonko’s letter, he faulted the Speaker setting for aside his memorandum without presenting it on the floor of the House for deliberations terming it abuse of office and disregard of prevailing laws.

He maintained that the original Bill resubmitted for him to sign was in contravention of section 131(2) of the Public Finance Management Act and section 21(3) of County Governments Act and therefore he is not obliged to assent to it.

He added that according to Standing Order 146(2) of the County Assembly, his memorandum remained alive and only the decision of the assembly and not the Speaker could nullify it.

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“From the aforementioned, the said process was not followed rendering the action taken by you as the speaker of the assembly unlawful and utter disregard of the law. The Bill therefore passed by the assembly should fail and can therefore not be presented for publication,” said Mr Sonko.

He, however, said that the County Treasury has prepared a supplementary budget that will be forwarded to the assembly for consideration and approval.

A standoff over the Bill has persisted since it was approved on April 2, 2020 by the Nairobi County Assembly.

When the Bill was taken to Governor Sonko for assent, he declined to append his signature and instead referred the Bill back accusing the assembly of overstepping its mandate by allocating funds to functions that were not part of the Deed of Transfer of functions.

When the Bill was taken to Governor Sonko for assent, he declined to append his signature and instead referred the Bill back accusing the Assembly of overstepping its mandate by allocating funds to functions that were not part of the Deed of Transfer of functions.

However, Speaker Elachi, rather than commit the Governor’s memorandum to the relevant committee of the House, rejected the memorandum saying it raised constitutional issues that can only be determined by the court and in the process sent the original Bill back to the Governor for assent within seven days.

The Speaker argued that matters touching on the Deed of Transfer of functions signed by the Governor can only be determined by the court and it is not the assembly to determine whether funds should not have been appropriated to the said functions informing her decision to reject the memorandum and return the original Bill for assent.

She explained that her ruling was based on Standing Order 146 (4) which states that when the governor’s memorandum on any Bill raises a question of Constitutionality of the Bill or a provision of the Bill, the Speaker shall notwithstanding provisions of committing the memoranda to the relevant assembly committee for consideration give a determination on the Constitutionality of such a question.

After rejecting the governor’s memorandum, Speaker Elachi re-submitted the Bill to Mr Sonko on April 17, 2020 and according to Standing Order 145 (6) of Nairobi County Assembly, if the Governor does not assent to a Bill or refer it back with the seven days, the Bill shall be taken to have been assented to on expiry of the period.





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