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Sonko’s chaotic reign marked by firing and frequent reshuffles of executives

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Nairobi governor Mike Sonko took the oath of office as the second governor on Monday, August 21, 2017, in a colourful event at Uhuru Park.

President Uhuru Kenyatta was present as Sonko and former deputy governor Polycarp Igathe pledged to work together “to fix Nairobi”.

“You’ve had immense faith in me from the time you elected me as the MP for Makadara and later as your senator. I have never and will never take the confidence you’ve had in me for granted,” Sonko said in his inauguration speech.

His words raised the expectations of Nairobi residents after a mainly disappointing reign of his predecessor, Evans Kidero.

The first months of Sonko at the helm were low key, as he settled down.

His speeches were centred around kicking out cartels from City Hall. He repeatedly tore into Kidero, accusing him of working with cartels to defraud the county resources.

But reality fast dawned on him that he was the new city sheriff and that Nairobi residents wanted services, not endless rhetoric.

After appointing his county executives, things fast started falling apart at City Hall. It emerged Sonko and Igathe were not reading from the same script.

Igathe resigned four months into the office, signalling what was to be an erratic leadership style from the governor.

Read: Igathe quits, says failed to gain Sonko’s confidence

Igathe posted on Twitter that he had failed to earn Sonko’s trust. “Dear Nairobians, it is with a heavy heart that I resign … effective 1pm on January 31, 2018. I regret I have failed to earn the trust of the governor to enable me to drive administration and management of the county,” he wrote. Nairobi still doesn’t have a deputy governor.

Igathe, who was a State House nominee for the job, has the credentials of a man with the requisite skills to manage the city.

After his resignation, the governor, on May 16, nominated lawyer Miguna Miguna. But the Canada-based lawyer was flatly rejected by the county assembly.

The governor had said Miguna meets all the constitutional requirements for the post, but the MCAs could hear none of it.

Immediately Sonko appointed Miguna in May, he shifted to his Mua Hills home in Machakos, where he has been operating from. He claimed his life was in danger after the state scaled down his security from 20 to five bodyguards. His security detail has been restored.

Most Nairobi residents have demanded that Sonko stops operating from Mua Hills and to return to his Nairobi home.

During the initial days in office, the governor appeared comfortable working with then acting county secretary Leboo ole Morintat. Leboo, who has served at City Hall for over a decade, earned the governor’s trust and would be seen running major duties on his behalf.

PUSH AND PULL

With Igathe out of the picture, Sonko schemed how to reject appointees fronted by State House. It emerged that State House official Peter Kariuki had been recommended for the county secretary’s post.

Kariuki, who portrays the image of an educated and experienced manager, was expected to inject some sense and order at City Hall.

But Sonko delayed his appointment in what analysts said was an attempt by the governor to stamp his authority at City Hall.

In February, Sonko reactivated the appointment process of Kariuki.

The push and pull between Sonko and State House later came to an end and Kariuki’s name was forwarded to the county assembly for approval.

On February 26, Sonko moved Agriculture executive Danvas Makori to Finance department to replace Vesca Kangogo, who was moved to the Devolution docket.

The same day, ICT executive Charles Kerich was moved to Lands to replace Peter Wachira, who was shuffled to Agriculture.

The ICT docket was handed over to Esther Muthoni, previously in Environment department.

Larry Wambua, who headed the Devolution docket, was moved to Environment.

On April 10, Sonko sacked Makori for allegedly being Kidero’s spy.

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Read: Sonko suspends top officers over misuse of funds, reshuffles executive

He appointed Kerich as acting Finance executive. On the same day, the governor nominated Newton Munene as Finance executive. Munene did not take the position, despite being vetted and approved by the assembly. He was appointed to Trade docket in another reshuffle on July 20. He replaced Allan Igambi, who was moved to Finance docket.

Some MCAs castigated his erratic one-man style of administration.

The MCAs questioned the frequent arbitrary suspensions of top officials in the county executive, which has remained characteristic of the governor’s management style under the guise of fighting corruption.

At one point, the MCAs pushed for motions to debate the state of affairs in the county government. Governor Sonko was the target.

The governor was put to task by Embakasi MCA Michael Ogada, who alleged that the county government was spending Sh17 million weekly to pay casual workers associated with the Sonko Rescue Team.

Ogada claimed the youth were being used to siphon money from the county coffers.

Makongeni MCA and minority chief whip Peter Imwatok introduced two motions under Standing Order 34. One motion focused on the demolition of illegal structures in parts of the city. The other was anchored on the state of the county’s services and development.

His motions elicited heated arguments in the assembly.

More suspensions

On July 30, Sonko suspended Chief of Staff Brian Mugo, acting Finance chief officer Ekaya Alumasi and acting head of treasury Stephen Mutua over graft claims. Mugo was reinstated on November 13.

On August 1, Health executive Hitan Majevdia and Director of Health Services Thomas Ogaro were suspended over claims of incompetence.

Another round of suspensions and sackings followed on September 19.

Read: Pumwani saga: Sonko suspends Health executive, three officers for insubordination

Pumwani saga

The governor sent home county secretary Kariuki, Health executive Kangogo, Health chief officer Mahat Jimale and county attorney Lydia Kwamboka.

Sonko cited insubordination in the Pumwani Hospital saga, where 11 bodies of infants were found stored in carton boxes. The Pumwani saga generated a huge national debate as some leaders accused Sonko of exposing his failures.

Sonko appointed Pauline Kahiga to act as the county secretary. Kerich was named the acting Health executive, Mohamed Saleh (Health chief officer) and David Aseko as acting county attorney.

The governor has, however, continued making impromptu visits to the facility, with numerous uplift works ongoing.

What is worrying the county executives is their contracts at City Hall. Contracts of 10 county executives expired early last month, making their continued stay in office questionable.

This surfaced at the Budget and Appropriations Committee, which demanded to be furnished with documents showing their signed work tenure.

The committee members broke into laughter when Finance executive Igambi, who had appeared before it said he did not know when his contract expired.

“I was employed on a one-year contract but I have to refer to the document to see when it lapsed,” he said.

Such is the confusion at City Hall, but the governor insists he is on the right track to fix things in the capital.

See also: Sonko suspends Vesca Kangogo for traveling to US without permission

Read: Sonko’s chaotic management at City Hall

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