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Inside the Badi, Sonko wars to control Nairobi

By Eric Wainaina
Wednesday, July 15th, 2020
Maj-Gen Mohammed Badi, the Nairobi Metropolitan Service director-general (Blue Berret) and Parklands MCA Jayedra Malde (in a white shirt) and Westlands MP Timothy Wanyonyi at a construction site in Parklands, Nairobi, on Monday. Photo/PD/Courtesy
In summary
    • President Uhuru Kenyatta on June 6 called on Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and Nairobi Metropolitan Service team, led by Maj General Mohamed Badi to forge a rapport and work together.
    • The President observed that the two should develop a common goal of uplifting the city, which would ensure quick turnaround of the interventions in transforming the city.

The war of words between Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS) boss Major-General Mohamed Badi and Governor Mike Sonko is exposing the tug-of-war between a politician eager to save face and a man on a mission to save the capital city from rot.

Dubbed the war between the General and the King of bling, the tiff between Badi and Sonko escalated on Monday, when the county chief attacked the soldier after he led his team to reclaim public land meant for a hospital in  Westlands.

 Badi, who was in full military combat, accompanied Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi and Parklands Ward Rep Jayendra Malde in reclaiming the prime property meant for Highridge clinic but was reported to have been grabbed by a private developer who was putting up apartments.

 “If there is anybody in dispute about this land, because this is clearly a public facility, he or she can go to court.

But the construction that has been going on here must stop immediately and this land must go back to the public,” Badi told reporters after ordering workers out of the site.

 But Sonko suggested that there was bias in reclaiming of grabbed land.

 “Being silent is not being foolish. I have just seen some busybodies trying to play bad politics and blame-games on the grabbed Highridge public hospital land and other grabbed public utilities in Westlands Constituency.

They should also go to South C where a businessman from North Eastern is constructing a mall on a county land earmarked for a nursery school and public playground,” Sonko said. 

 Sonko was forced to surrender Health, Transport, Public Works, utilities and ancillary services and Planning and Development departments, in what officially left him a skeleton county chief. 

He was left to deal only with pornography and drugs, licensing of dogs and facilities for the accommodation, care and burial of animals, managing slaughterhouses, betting, casinos and other forms of gambling.

Yesterday, NMS through Major Albert Musoma, declined to be drawn in what he called unnecessary political sideshows, only saying that his team has a mandate to deliver to the benefit of the people in Nairobi and that it is not their business to establish whether other parties are happy with their work or not.

 Calculated plot

But last week, NMS, which Sonko has in the past been accused of frustrating, was forced to clarify that it did a street light project at Mlango Kubwa and not the governor as claimed in online posts, a move that exposed the growing rift between the two camps.

 Sonko has been engaging in a supremacy battle with NMS, and in April he denied it finances by rejecting a Supplementary Budget approved by the County Assembly in a move seen as a calculated plot to frustrate its operations at the county.

This forced the president to put the authority under his office where its now drawing is a Sh28 billion budget.

 Besides frustrating NMS by denying it funds, Sonko had threatened to pull out of the deal that took away key services such as Health, Public Works and Finance from him.

 While Sonko accuses NMS of ruining his reputation, observers feel he is fighting back because of bitterness since NMS’s operations have left his incompetence gravely exposed while the cartels which he “knowingly or unknowingly” protected have suffered a big blow.

 Further, observers opine that NMS which has been receiving accolades only serves to leave the flamboyant governor severely politically wounded, a thing he won’t take lying down.

 City Hall Majority Whip June Ndegwa, yesterday told People Daily that Sonko was uncomfortable that NMS was quickly delivering what he had been unable to do in the past three years, adding that the dismantling of cartels which he had allegedly created has also annoyed him.

“When someone is not development-oriented, and then someone else like Badi comes in and they are development -oriented and are not interested with the politics of the day, but just doing work to ensure they reclaim the lost glory of a city, of course this (Sonko) overly political person will be uncomfortable,” said the MCA.

 She added: “Sonko is getting upset because the cartels Badi has come to dismantle are him or he is the one who created them”.

 Lawyer and political commenter Ndegwa Njiru said the governor who has a brimming ego and inadequate leadership skills, was unhappy that Badi had exposed his incompetence and interests at City Hall, adding that he is fighting a losing battle to redeem his political star after his influence and order at the county was suppressed.

Still fights 

“Sonko is someone with a wild beast mentality, which even after being bitten by crocodiles, still fights to remain afloat without being alive to the fact that its throat has been held tightly.

He invested in the creation of those cartels but now that they are no longer useful to him, these are some of the  issues he is bitter about because he could be having benefits accrued from the processes on the cartels,” he said.

 Dagoretti MP Simba Arati believes Sonko is hurt because his arrogance and incompetence have been dealt with and that his interests at City Hall, which he said were personal, have been dismantled.

 “Sonko is a bitter man because everything NMS is doing leaves him exposed and embarrassed.

Again, City Hall is riddled with cartels, which he knowingly or unknowingly protected, and because NMS has been dismantling them, such as those in transport, garbage collection as well as land sectors, are jointly fighting back,” Arati said.

 But Sonko, through his spokesperson Ben Mulwa, rubbished claims. 

Mulwa said Sonko is disappointed because NMS was playing politics with critical projects with a view to paint him as a failure and the king of cartels.

 “The governor has done so much in the city to be described as incompetence. He does not harbour cartels; in fact he has been leading the war to dismantle them alone.

What the governor wishes is for NMS to desist from playing petty politics to portray him as a failure and a leader of cartels because the opposite is true,” Mulwa said yesterday.

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