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Why Sonko may not survive his second impeachment bid

By Josphat Thiong'o | November 29th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Nairobi governor Mike Sonko [George Njunge, Standard]

The future of Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko looks bleak following the latest petition seeking to kick him out of office.

The flamboyant leader faces yet another impeachment motion, barely a year since he battled a similar threat.

And the odds are stacked against him and his critics argue he might not survive this time round.

In December 2019, ODM MCAs led by then Minority Leader David Mberia made known their intentions to impeach Governor Sonko after he was barred from office on the premise of a Sh357 million graft case by the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji.

The opposition MCAs, however, made good their threat in January 2020 when Makongeni MCA Peter Imwatok tabled a notice of impeachment before the County Assembly.

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He listed 16 grounds for Sonko’s ouster, among them abuse of office and irregular procurement of services, inability to constitute a working cabinet with almost all CECs working in acting capacity and skewed awarding of contracts to road contractors in estates.

The notice of motion was supported by 65 out of 122 MCAs, largely drawn from ODM and a select few from Jubilee Party.

He got a reprieve on March 2, 2020, when the High Court stopped his impeachment as the judge ruled there was failure to adhere to due process.

Sonko’s saving grace was, however, the intervention by President Uhuru Kenyatta, who after a State House meeting, implored the MCAs to drop their plans.

The meeting also paved way for the creation of the Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS) under the direction of Major General Mohammed Badi and the office of the President. NMS immediately took over the running of crucial functions in the city, namely Health, Transport, Public works and Housing dockets.

Fast forward to November 2020, and Sonko is yet again at the mercy of MCAs. His ouster motion is set for debate on Thursday.

This time they want him out mainly for failure to approve a Sh37.4 billion budget and also cite his frosty relationship with NMS boss.

He is also accused of abuse of office, gross violation of the law as well as lacking the physical/mental capability to run the county government.   

But unlike the last scenario, State House has this time okayed the removal of the embattled governor, according to a source at the city assembly.

The source revealed that a call from State House last Saturday triggered the ouster motion of the governor.

Secondly, the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) politics has compounded Sonko’s woes. The governor has openly opposed the BBI report, saying it was out to oppress the poor.

This has made him a soft target from those driving the BBI agenda.

According to the source, supporting the BBI is one of the condition Sonko had been given to forestall his looming impeachment.

Thirdly, both Jubilee and ODM parties are united in their spirited bid to oust Sonko.

This was confirmed by Assembly Majority Leader Abdi Hassan alias Guyo.

“This time round, the motion enjoys support from members on both sides of the political divide at the assembly. It will most definitely sail through,” said Guyo.

His sentiments are based on the premise of a meeting at Raila’s Capitol Hill office last Tuesday where details of Sonko’s ouster were ironed out. In attendance at the meeting was ODM party’s top brass, Guyo and Majority Whip Paul Kados both of Jubilee Party, Minority Leader Michael Ogada and Minority Whip Peter Imwatok allied to ODM.

From office

Moreover, 86 out of 122 MCAs have signed a petition in favour of Sonko’s ouster compared to the previous 66 who were in support of his removal from office in February.

Sonko’s spokesperson Ben Mulwa however insists the governor has a fighting chance and he shouldn’t be ruled out just yet. 

“If those grounds tabled at the county assembly are what is to be presented even before the Senate, I can tell you for a fact that he is going nowhere,” said Mulwa. 

He holds that the embattled city boss is engaging in high level consultations and rallying his troops both at the assembly and the Senate to ensure the motion flops. 

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