To make Nairobi great again, elect capable leaders

Aerial view of KICC, Times Tower, and CBK Pension Tower. May 21, 2022. [Boniface Okendo, Standard] 

Restoring Nairobi to its former glory and repute is no mean feat. The last three city governors can attest to this.

They have alternately implemented projects aimed at reforming the city, but more often than not, their efforts have come to naught.

The first governor following the advent of devolution in 2013, Dr Evans Kidero, inherited a corruption ridden administration. He tried to transform that image throughout his five-year tenure.

To curtail graft and fight cartels, he conducted multiple re-shuffles in his administration. At one point, he abolished payment and dispatch of cheques to suppliers, stating that the process will be fully automated. But cartels found a way to circumvent this.

His efforts to deal with the traffic menace hit a brick wall – amid a few successes. Then there was the hawker menace, the garbage conundrum and uncontrolled development issues that added wood to the fire on his governor’s hot seat.

In 2017, Governor Mike Sonko took over the same problems with graft and cartels being the most glaring. So much so, that he severally cried out for help to the national government to fight corruption at City Hall.

What followed was formation of the controversial and military-riddled Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) which despite having done a stellar job in its initial month of conception, has still not fully addressed sleaze in the capital.

As Governor Anne Kananu finishes her term and the capital readies itself to usher in a new boss there is need for a lot more to be done – by both the electorate and the national government- to restore Nairobi to its former glory.

For starters, the electorate should vet and elect a development-oriented leader whose interest go beyond financial greed, party interests and empty promises. If anything, the recent past has taught us that populist politicians don’t necessarily make for the best leaders.

The leader elected into office should consequently work closely with the national government to ensure projects such as a waste recycling plant at Dandora dumpsite is set up, new spacious bus termini across the city to tackle the gridlock are set up and reforms to stop land grabbing.

City Hall’s administration should, on its part, eliminate graft by pushing for a culture change and reshuffle of members of staff, if need, to ensure that the people in office are those with the right attitude to work.

Members of the Nairobi County Assembly (MCAs) should also get out of the pockets of the executive and live up to their oversight role which involves putting the executive on its toes.

It can be done. Let voters elect a capable governor, selfless MCAs and demand better services from the county government.