The Nairobi governor has been accused of nominating lawyer Miguna Miguna as his deputy to pre-empt his impeachment.
Jubilee Party Vice Chairman David Murathe claimed that Governor Mike Sonko had named the lawyer to divert attention from questions about his performance.
He declared that the plan to impeach Sonko would not be derailed by his ‘tantrums’.
The remarks of Mr Murathe, a top official of Jubilee, which sponsored Sonko’s candidature in the last elections, is a surprise admission that the governor has fallen out of favour with the party’s top brass.
“Sonko is forestalling his impeachment which has nothing to do with the DG’s position but his administration’s dismal performance. He is covering up his mistakes by trying to divert attention. His nomination of Miguna is of no significance,” said Murathe.
“The impeachment will proceed and it has to do with failures to deliver services to the people as was pledged by the party during campaigns. He can throw tantrums but they will have no consequence. We want action and not talking lies.”
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale (Garissa Township) rejected the nomination of Miguna, who unsuccessfully ran for the governor’s seat as an independent candidate. Mr Duale said Miguna would need more than four months to become a bona fide member of Jubilee Party.
“I humbly ask the governor to withdraw the name. He is not a member of Jubilee. Miguna’s citizenship is also in doubt,” said Duale.
Murathe asked how Miguna would come into the country. “Let’s not cheat ourselves that Miguna cancelled his trip to Kenya because the Government failed to comply with court orders. No plane can carry him, unless it is Canadian. He can either opt to walk or use the train,” said Murathe.
Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja dismissed the nomination.
“Miguna Miguna will not become the deputy governor of Nairobi. Take that to the bank. On this matter, the governor is on his own,” Mr Sakaja told The Standard. “He will not be a deputy governor in 2018, maybe in 2022.”
Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi said she had asked Sonko to follow the right procedure and notify her of the nomination of Miguna.
Ms Elachi denied that she had formally received the letter communicating Miguna’s nomination but acknowledged it had been delivered to her office by Miguna’s lawyer, Cliff Ombeta.
“I have not formally received a letter from Governor Mike Sonko nominating Miguna, but I have taken up the issue with the governor and he is working on it,” said Elachi.
Miguna said he had no knowledge about the development he described as a ‘malicious distraction’.
“Good afternoon? I have no idea what nearly everyone seems to be talking about. It’s a malicious distraction. That’s all I am saying! You can quote this. But no comment beyond it,” Miguna said when asked about the nomination.
Some members of Nairobi county assembly rejected the nomination but others said they would consider it as part of extending the handshake spirit, referring to the unity deal between President Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga.
The county assembly’s budget and appropriations committee chairman, Robert Mbatia, denied knowledge of any plan to impeach Sonko.
“There is no such thing. Sonko still enjoys goodwill from both the public and members plus 80 per cent support from the assembly. No one has tried to impeach him,” Mr Mbatia said.
National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi welcomed Miguna’s nomination, citing several reasons that could have led Sonko to nominate him.
Mr Mbadi said the development exposed the wars among camps in Jubilee, especially after the handshake between Uhuru and Raila, with one side plotting to axe the governor.
“The group politics is playing out. There are those adamant to get rid of Sonko. The governor, sensing danger, has opted for Miguna, who is a radical. They will be forced to stay with him rather than Miguna if he accepts the nomination,” said Mbadi.
The Constitution provides that a deputy governor take office for the remainder of the term if a governor is impeached.
“Sonko is part of those against the handshake, the same as Miguna. Sonko is securing his job by going against the majority,” claimed Mbadi.
Sonko has claimed that some powerful forces in the Government were fighting him. Last Friday, at a presidential function in Nairobi, he seized the microphone when Deputy President William Ruto was about to speak to protest that he was being sidelined.
He has accused Interior PS Karanja Kibicho of undermining him, but Mr Kibicho has asked the governor to stop dragging him into his problems.
There has been speculation that the governor is uncomfortable about State House influence in the running of the county government.
Among the appointments that the State has been said to have had a hand in is that of the county secretary, Peter Karuiki. Sonko had initially recalled his nomination, but later forwarded it to the county assembly for approval.
Last week, during the launch of the national tree planting day, the President asked Sonko to consider terminating existing contracts for garbage collection and instead hire youths to do the job.
On Tuesday, Sonko announced that the contracts, estimated at Sh700 million, had lapsed and that his administration would not renew them as youths would be hired directly. The national government announced that the National Youth Service and military trucks would be deployed to collect garbage.
Embakasi West MP George Theuri and nominated Senator Millicent Omanga said they supported Miguna’s nomination. [Additional reporting by Daniel Psirmoi]