The supremacy rivalry between Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) Director General Mohammed Badi has heightened with the two now fighting over the County Governor’s official residence.
There has been no love lost between the two who have been engaged in a supremacy battle ever since NMS was established in March. Previously, they have fought over the transfer of county staff and credit for projects in the capital.
The latest bout between the two, began a week ago when Governor Sonko announced that he had taken possession of the Governor’s residence situated in posh Lavington area in which no governor has lived.
The five-bedroomed house has been vacant since the last occupant, former CEC Anne Lokidor vacated it in November 2018.
The property, sitting on 0.843 acres along Isaac Gathanju Close in Lavington, housed previous city Mayors until 2002 when the former Lands Minister Noah Katana Ngala allocated it to himself and lived in it for 10 years.
He was, however, arrested by EACC together with his wife and charged over the property and in 2012. They entered into an agreement with the Commission to return the property to the public.
Ngala had allegedly bought the house from the mother of chairman of the commission running the city after it had been renovated and sold to her. It was then returned to the county government by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
According to papers filed in court, the anti-graft body accused Ngala of conspiring with City Hall officials to irregularly allocate him the property whose ownership he later transferred to Ms Nzalambi.
The case attracted national interest in September 2005 when the anti-graft agency – then called Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) – obtained a court order restraining Ngala from ever transferring or disposing of the property. In a dramatic twist to the saga last in 2011, Ms Nzalambi entered into an out of court.
The City County sources says its elected mayors last used the property 29 years ago as an official residence. Former governor Evans Kidero did not live in the house instead left it to Ms Lokidor.
Nairobi’s last mayor before Devolution, George Aladwa, now Makadara MP, became the last Mayor to occupy the house.
Now Sonko says that County staff had begun renovating the house ahead of his plan to move in. That is the same Sonko who on taking over the reigns of City administration moved to his rural home in Machakos and set camp there for months.
But immediately after the announcement, Major General Badi warned the governor to stay away from the property, saying the house is in the hands of NMS and has been sealed off by police officers.
Nobody is going to claim that house, he declared.
“Lands is a transferred function to NMS and so that area belongs to NMS. He may play his tricks but as we are talking that house has been sealed off and nobody is going to claim that house,” charged Badi.
Governor Sonko hit back at the DG with kicks of a dying horse asking him to respect the rule of law instead of “forcefully” taking the residence and ceremonial vehicle.
Sonko pointed to Article 187 (2) (b) of the constitution which stipulates that the constitutional responsibility for the performance of the function or exercise of the power shall remain with the government to which it is assigned by the Fourth Schedule.
“We are not in competition, kindly let us focus on service delivery to the Great people of Nairobi and if you want to fight go to Somalia and fight with Alshaabab and if you want to become the Governor wait for 2022 to vie,” abusively said the Sonko.
However, Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi defended Badi saying that the function of Land and Housing squarely falls under NMS as part of the four transferred county functions.
“NMS can take over and decide what to do with the property. Sonko is still the governor of Nairobi but he surrendered some of the functions to NMS,” he said.
But Nairobi County Assembly majority leader Abdi Guyo defended Sonko accusing Badi of engaging in politics and deviating from his roles as specified in the Deed of Transfer of functions.
“The mayor’s house is supposed to be an official residence of the governor. And we have just one elected governor in Nairobi. So, he cannot claim that that the house belongs to NMS,” argued Guyo.
Hopefully Sonko will not claim Burma market when Badi moves in to repair long abandoned structures that Sonko has ignored since he was elected MP for Makadara in 2010, during his tenure as Senator of Nairobi and even after becoming Governor.
One of the blocks was destroyed in a fire over 25 years ago. The block was ignored by several mayors yet it can provide room for over 200 stalls for Kenyans who operate in open air adjacent to it and along Jogoo Road.
The only reason the block has remained unprepared is the fact that it cannot yield much money in bribes.
Sonko has also been unable to recover Harambee Secondary School grabbed land even after several promises since he was living in its neighbourhood as a Member of Parliament.
So-called private developers among them a former Nairobi City Council Planning Director the late Mwangi Mang’ondu are proud owners of the grabbed the school land.
This report is part of Kenya Confidential FREE information to inform our readers about Square pegs in round holes in public Life.
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