You have let us down, UDA tells Sakaja over rot at City Hall

Nairobi City County Governor Johnson Sakaja inspects Guard of Honour mounted by City Inspectorates during State of County address on April 04, 2024. [Samson Wire, Standard]

All is not well in Nairobi County. This is a message from a section of legislators both in the City-County Assembly and the National Assembly.

Elected on the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party ticket, the MPs and MCAs expressed their concerns over the status of development in the city under the leadership of Johnson Sakaja.

The politicians are accusing the current administration of failing to meet the expectations of residents who overwhelmingly voted for the President’s party in 2022.

The lawmakers led by Dagoretti South MP John KJ Kiarie in a lengthy address, invited investigative authorities to the City Hall to probe alleged wanton graft.

“It is our observation that is now the view of the majority of city county residents that Nairobi could be facing its worst leadership crisis at City Hall,” Kiarie said.

“The dream that was sold during the campaigns of a city of order, dignity and opportunities for all has turned into the nightmare that Nairobi is becoming,” he added.

Kairie was flanked by Roysambu MP Augustine Kamande Mwafrika and Embakasi South’s Benjamin Gathiru alias Major Donk among several MCAs led by Nairobi South ward rep Waithera Chege who has just been affirmed as party minority leader in the Assembly.

In their statement, they claimed the City Hall leadership is aloof. “Nairobi City is drowning in the murky lakes of flowing sewerage estate buried in mountains garbage, taps whistling to the tunes of dryness as storm waters flood our homes and businesses,” KJ said.

The lawmakers raised concerns over unplanned constructions in the city including high-rises claiming greedy officials are bribed with cash or apartments to authorise illegal skyscrapers.

Sakaja has been challenged over his remarks that tall buildings will now be constructed in areas such as Kileleshwa, Lavington, and Eastleigh among other areas.

The governor has downplayed the position and instead focused his energy in the battle for UDA chairmanship elections slated for April 26, 2024.

"Having been a national chair of a party, the consensus was that I focus my experience, time and resources at the grassroots for a stronger UDA," he responded.

The legislators and the ward reps baying for Sakaja's blood said the city lacks a clear vision complete with a well-thought-out masterplan as the guiding instrument.

At the same time, they noted that the recent report by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu unearthed the rot at City Hall among them gross mismanagement of public finances.

Nairobi City County Governor Johnson Sakaja toured the City to assess the garbage menace on August 27, 2022. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Gathungu has raised concerns over huge legal pending bills in Nairobi County for the Financial Year that ended on June 30, 2023.

“Analysis of the revenue against the legal fees revealed that 11 advocates out of a legal list of 832 cases are owed a total of Sh10,741,451,631," the report stated.

For this reason, she cautioned the Sakaja-led administration that in any circumstances that the legal pending bills are paid, then other services to taxpayers would be crippled.

The City UDA MPs accused the executive of holding hostage some MCAs in the Assembly.

“The City-County Assembly risks being a dysfunctional remote controlled ineffective house with the ever-dangling carrot promised to those who are willing to sell their dignity and loyalty,” Kiarie added.

They urged the executive to let the MCAs free and institutionalise the Ward Development Fund so that the MCAs can be able to conduct development in their wards.

Water, garbage and transport biggest challenges for Johnson Sakaja

Mr Kamande cautioned Sakaja against contesting for Nairobi UDA chairmanship saying local leaders are supporting Embakasi North MP James Gakuya for the seat.

Embakasi Central MP Benjamin Gathiru said they are not interested in the impeachment of the governor but they want to see a functioning city, the headquarters of Kenya and should lead by example of good management.

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja shakes hands with President William Ruto as Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi looks on during the unveiling of the JW Marriott Hotel in Nairobi along Waiyaki Way. [David Gichuru, Standard]

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna termed the capital city an exceptional case wondering why the governor refused to honour summons yet governors from far flung areas find time to appear before Senate committees.

“I am disappointed that Sakaja has refused to appear before various parliamentary committees whenever called upon, he was supposed to tell us how the county spent Sh76 billion between 2020 and 2022 but unfortunately he chose to skip the invite,” said Sifuna.

He noted that the county was leading in pending bills at Sh107 billion and having served as a nominated member of the National Assembly and Nairobi Senator, Sakaja ought to show a good example to other governors since he understands how Parliament operates.

Sifuna said the best way to deal with the governor is to have the Controller of the Budget stop the shareable revenue allocation to the county so that the leadership can answer audit queries whenever called upon by the Senate.

Kisii Senator Richard Onyonka said the matter should be escalated to the floor of the House for a drastic decision since being accountable and transparent to Parliament must take precedence at all times.

“We cannot have governors deliberately avoiding appearing before Parliament since they know the much that can be done is being fined Sh500,000 which some can even pay several times as long as they avoid appearing before Parliament which is not acceptable,” said Onyonka.

Speaking on TV last week, the governor denied snubbing the Senate saying out of 14 times he has been invited for the last one year he has only missed three appearances of which he has adequately communicated to the committee chairpersons.

Sakaja said having served as a MP for two terms before becoming governor he understands the oversight role of the Senate and he has no reason not to appear especially where he is responding to audit queries related to his predecessor's tenure.

“I can tell you that I have appeared before the Senate many times than any other governor, it is ridiculous that the only three times that I have failed to appear and clearly explained my reasons, I can still be labelled as having snubbed Parliament,” he said. 

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