President Uhuru Kenyatta on June 6 called on Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and Nairobi Metropolitan Service team, led by Major 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.
Since the address, nothing has been done to convince Nairobi residents, even President Uhuru himself that the two could actually be of good fit.
The war of words between Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS) boss Major-General Mohamed Badi and Governor Mike Sonko threatens to expose the tug-of-war between a politician eager to save his reputation and a man on a mission to save the capital city from rot caused by the city’s cartels.
Dubbed the war between the General and the King of bling, the showdown between Badi and Sonko escalated on Monday July 13, when the county chief attacked the soldier after he led his team to reclaim public land meant for a hospital in Westlands.
Badi was in full military combat and was flanked by 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.
“I will work with the Ministry of Health to ensure that within the shortest time possible, a hospital will be built here”.
He also issued a rallying cry to anyone willing to reclaim the land, giving one of the conditions of doing so to produce a valid title deed.
“If the claimer has a title deed for this land, he or she must produce it in court. We are ready for any court battles and any other battles.”
“This land is therefore closed, nobody will be allowed in this place. If any constructor comes here, they should be immediately arrested and prosecuted”.
Badi’s words certainly did not sit well with the cartels that have haunted this city for time immemorial…but no one was more irked with Badi’s war cry than Sonko himself.
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 told People Daily on Wednesday July 15.
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.
On Tuesday July 14, 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.
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”.
Sonko definitely didn’t take that lightly through his spokesperson Ben Mulwa, who while being interviewed by People Daily, dismissed claims that he was behind the inception and protection of the cartels.
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 on Tuesday July 14.
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