Wrangles at the Nairobi County Government have taken a new twist following Jubilee’s appointment of new leaders to champion its cause as the tiff between embattled Governor Mike Sonko and the central government rages.
In the latest twist, Jubilee Secretary Raphael Tuju made changes to the county assembly leadership a day after Sonko declined to sign into law the Bill transferring Sh15 billion to the Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS).
The reconstituted county assembly majority side saw former Majority Leader Abdi Guyo, a friend-turned-foe of the governor, make a surprise comeback.
Tuju’s communication to Sonko and County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi nominated for approval by the assembly four Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) to various leadership posts.
The changes, which feature anti-Sonko individuals, are clearly geared at forcing through the budget transfer.
The others are Peter Wanyoike Gitau (deputy Majority leader), Paul Kiguathi Kados (Majority whip) and Waithera Chege (deputy whip).
“These were orders from the House on the Hill,” disclosed a source aware of the happenings within the party.
Tuju confirmed the changes, saying he had also consulted Elachi and Sonko on the matter. He asserted that it was his duty to ensure that there was no more infighting among Jubilee MCAs.
The Jubilee Secretary General said a key grievance presented against the Speaker during the deliberations was that she was ODM-leaning, but that had been addressed.
“It is my responsibility to talk to leadership at the party and listen to them in times of differences and try to bring them together. If I cannot, then I have to make decisions in the best interest of the party. This may however not satisfy all,” he said.
He further explained that MCAs Thuo, Mugadi, June Ndegwa and Abdikadir had only been appointed as the interim House leadership as from November 12, 2019 after chaos rocked the City Assembly following the chaotic return of Elachi.
This, he said, was to allow the warring factions to agree among themselves.
He however cautioned MCAs against making a move on Elachi, saying that anyone going against her will be going against the party’s position.
“They have to learn to work together,” he warned.
There are indications that Jubilee Vice Chairman David Murathe had a hidden hand in Guyo and Waithera’s return to the county assembly leadership and the appointment of Kados and Wanyoike to their new positions following months of intense lobbying.
Elachi however said she was yet to receive official communication from the Jubilee Party pertaining to the changes. She reiterated that any changes of the house leadership, be it from the majority or minority sides, have to be addressed officially to the Office of the Speaker.
“What I have seen is a letter of Paul Kado’s appointment as the majority whip circulating on social media platforms. As Speaker of the House, no letter has reached the office to communicate the changes,” she said.
Elachi however maintained that her Office was open to working with all 122 MCAs.
But Tuju’s letter says the party held various consultations on the matter.
“In accordance with the 2012 Political Parties Act that vests the powers of designation of leadership in the county assembly to the majority or minority party and in compliance with Article 20 of the Nairobi County Assembly Standing orders, we hereby designate the four as the leadership of Jubilee Party in the Assembly,” he stated.
He added: “The leadership is expected to adhere to the laid down communication channels in Jubilee Party and uphold the tenets of House leadership set out in the JP communication and the laws of Kenya.”
The names shared with the Majority Whip designate will now be tabled in the Assembly for MCAs to approve the new leadership.
Likewise, Tuju also wrote to the clerk on the appointment of Mark Ng’ang’a to the Nairobi City Assembly Service Public Board, breaking the previous tradition where the majority leader automatically became the party’s representative.
“The party had not exercised its obligation to appoint a representative to the board and the issue was presented to the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal for determination.
He explained: “On February 27, we received a judgment from the said court and consequently, engaged the parties in the dispute to the Party Internal Dispute Resolution Committee. Therefore, Ng’ang’a has been appointed in accordance with the County Assembly Services Act No. 24 of 2017.”
“You are required to note the changes and proceed to gazette the said nominees in the usual manner,” he informed the clerk and copied the governor and speaker.
Guyo’s return after a nasty fall out with Sonko, orchestrating his ouster, demonstrates the ruling party’s resolve to cut him to size despite having the electorates’ direct mandate.
Governor Sonko has in the recent past accused the Director General of NMS of undermining his authority yet he successfully participated in the signing of the transfer of functions.
In a move to stamp his authority, Sonko rejected the Nairobi County Supplementary Appropriation Bill, 2020 and referred it back to the assembly, saying its amendments are in breach of the law.
In a letter to Elachi, the governor argued that the assembly irregularly transferred and allocated the monies in the Bill, even to functions that were never transferred to the new office.
He also said that the amendments by the assembly were done without the input of the county’s finance executive contrary to provisions of sections of the Public Finance Management Act and the County Governments Act.
“I do hereby refuse to assent to the Bill for the reasons contained in the attached memorandum, and accordingly, I do hereby refer the Bill back to the Assembly for consideration,” he said in a letter dated April 15 and copied to Attorney-General Paul Kihara, the Controller of Budgets and the Government Printer.
It now appears President Uhuru Kenyatta has decided to take the war to Sonko’s door step to push him into submission.