Seth Onyango @SethManex
Loyalty pays — and Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko Mbuvi’s loyalty to controversy has propelled him to the apex of the Capital City’s political leadership.
His latest decision to nominate controversial lawyer Miguna Miguna, an acerbic Jubilee administration critic, as his deputy after the exit of Polycap Igathe, a technocrat, has stirred up a hornet’s nest in the ruling party led by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
And the decision is true to character for an outspoken man whose public life is synonymous with controversy, usually delivered with all manner of theatrics.
It appears not even his love for Italian suits and a plum position as the chief executive of Nairobi, East and Central Africa’s economic powerhouse, has mellowed his appetite for melodrama.
Paradoxically, his unconventional brand of politics has distanced him from political rivals — and in his words detractors but also put him at the centre of constant media attention.
How he manages to maintain his political base of ‘hustlers’ and attract adequate press coverage to sustain his narrative baffles many.
Nonetheless, one thing political pundits agree on is that, even if you wanted to, you cannot ignore Sonko.In less than two weeks, Sonko has been embroiled in drama that have left tongues wagging.
Last Saturday, the governor clashed with Environment Cabinet secretary Keriako Tobiko at a tree planting function attended by the President and his deputy William Ruto.
Drama ensued after Sonko, who had been scheduled to speak at the event, was skipped during the launch of the National Tree Planting Day.
In an apparent effort to stamp his authority, the governor shot up and took over a microphone as Ruto was about to speak, and maintained that he would not allow people to humiliate him
“Rais haja-disband county government…Hii mambo ya kudharau county government muwache. (The President has not disbanded the county of Nairobi….Stop this habit of disrespecting county governments),” he said in a bid to tell off Tobiko.
On Wednesday, Sonko stood aside as the President greeted dignitaries that had lined up to received him when the Head of State arrived for a memorial service for victims of Solai dam tragedy in Nakuru county.
But Sonko’s vexing, provoking and battering political theatrics exceed simple name-calling, having in the past performed a number of stunts to undermine the established order.
Last week, Sonko stormed Central Police Station, Nairobi, and made frantic, but futile, efforts to secure the release of his friend, East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) MP Simon Mbugua after his arrest.
A standoff ensued when police turned a deaf ear on Sonko who was demanding the release of the controversial legislator and three accomplices charged with robbery with violence. The governor threw tantrums in a desperate bid to catch the attention of the officers in charge who kept mum.
Sonko who got frustrated by the minute decided to call top government officials including Uhuru on loud speaker but no one picked.
In 2014, Sonko pulled a similar stunt successfully when he called the Head of State and asked him to order a stop to demolition of Winners Chapel in South B.
Sonko, then a flamboyant senator, defined by his golden jewellery, put Uhuru on loud speaker before hundreds of residents. Unaware that Sonko had put him on loud speaker, Uhuru replied “Ok, let me deal with it right now”.
The governor has also engaged in dangerous gimmicks including punching a wall and hurting himself to defend his ‘people.’
In 2014, photos of Sonko emerged leading a demonstration in The Hague to protest what he called harassment of Uhuru by the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.
At the height of the electioneering period last year, the governor was accused of pouring raw sewer on the ground where Nasa leader Raila Odinga was due to take oath as the ‘people’s president’.
Sonko had also pulled a similar antic at the burial of husband to former Kathiani MP Wavinya Ndeti after declaring himself the acting president of Kenya.
Then a senator, he declared that he was the acting President since both Uhuru and his deputy were absent during the event.
Even as the governor is embroiled in controversy, City dwellers are grappling with poor service delivery under his leadership.
Just recently, the media has been highlighting a series of stories on the desperate state of Nairobi, riddled with huge potholes, heaps of uncollected garbage, an increase in street beggars and urchins that pose a security risk.
The sorry state of the City has even attracted the attention of the President who has been categorical that Sonko has to step up in delivering the city from its desolate state.
In his defence, Sonko claims he inherited the mess from former governor Evans Kidero.