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Sonko's impeachment should pave way for city's regeneration

By Adhere Cavince | December 21st 2020

The impeachment of the Nairobi City County Governor Mike Sonko brings to end a badly scripted governance stint at Kenya's foremost devolved unit.

Sonko's tumultuous, flashy and often shadowy leadership style led to acrimony between the executive and the county assembly which repeatedly interrupted the provision of critical services.

In upholding the decision to remove him from office, the Senate performed the very critical role of safeguarding devolution. Senators have once again sent strong signals that personal rule, profiteering, and criminality are antithetical to the leadership aspirations of Kenyans across the country.

For over two years now, Sonko has run the county without a deputy following the resignation of Polycarp Igathe in January 2018. The county executives have been subjected to humiliation and harassment by the governor, leading to a number of resignations and firings. All the while essential services such as infrastructure modernisation, waste management and health service dwindled by the day.

The performance of the Nairobi Metropolitan Service spanning health services, transport, public works, utilities and ancillary services and county government planning and development is a clear indication that Nairobi residents could have experienced better under an effective County Government. 

In just 100 days, the General Badi-led team had hoisted water access in Nairobi's informal settlements, turned around waste management and transformed the look of the CBD through new pedestrian walkways.     

As a way of making up for his leadership and governance shortcomings, Governor Sonko was huge on tokenism, always traversing the county with handouts which were boisterously doled out. Sonko's antics seem to have gained traction with some leading politicians now walking the path of donations rather than sustainable development programmes anchored on sensible policies. 

Now that Sonko is out of the way, Nairobi voters should be more careful in picking the next governor. A good pick will anchor regeneration of the city, without much showbiz and voice notes. The NMS has set a precedent of what is possible within lean budgets, short timelines and with maximum impacts.

Nairobi is not just Kenya's commercial and administrative capital. In many ways, it is a veritable gateway to the whole of Africa. Many international organisations with regional footprints are headquartered in Nairobi. Nearly all the governors in Kenya have homes in Nairobi. The city is, therefore, a super county and should set examples to other devolved units.  

The next candidate to the City Hall should exemplify competence, excellence, decency, and managerial acumen. Given the multicultural setting that the city is, the next governor should be capable of consensus-building across cultures and worldviews.

For far too long, Nairobi has equally suffered from entrenched interests and cartels whose underhand dealing drain billions of shillings from public coffers. A good Chief Executive would work to protect and prudently utilise public resources. 

A number of candidates have already expressed their interest to succeed Governor Sonko. Many of them have been on the public life with well-documented past. It is now up to Nairobi voters to undertake due diligence on the candidates and ensure only the most qualified gets to fly the flag of the Nairobi City Governor come February 2021.

-Mr Adhere comments on topical issues @Cavinceworld  

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