Here’s the powerful man calling the shots at City Hall in Sonko’s absence
Simon Leboo ole Morintat is not your usual City Hall employee.
The quiet man, who rarely appears in public, wields enormous power at the Nairobi County government.
Mr Morintat currently holds two powerful positions: he is the acting county secretary and the Public Service Management chief officer.
He is now the man at the helm of City Hall after the anti-corruption court barred Governor Mike Sonko from accessing his office over corruption allegations.
The ruling has suddenly thrust Mr Morintat, a holder of a Master of Business Administration (Strategic Management) degree from Kenyatta University, into a position where he runs all operations at the county government in the absence of the governor.
He has become an indispensable part of Mr Sonko’s government, with his knowledge of all corridors of City Hall elevating him to his current position.
Mr Morintat has held various positions in his close to 10 years at City Hall.
A former Kilifi Town Clerk, he has emerged as one of the most trusted allies of Mr Sonko.
With the city having no deputy governor since the resignation of Polycarp Igathe as well as a substantive county secretary, Mr Morintat is the go-to guy at the county.
To buttress this, in September last year, Governor Sonko went out of his way to create the position of a deputy county secretary, a post with no legal standing, before appointing him to take it.
His position as the acting county secretary remains the most critical and active office currently.
This is further enhanced by the fact that his office is the heartbeat of all operations by the executive by virtue of being the Head of the County Public Service and also the secretary to the county executive committee.
In essence, he is answerable for all operations of the county executive and all departments.
He also wields power at the County Public Service Board where he performs functions delegated to him by the board.
Mr Morintat has been issuing orders concerning the county operations and is in charge of the more than 12,000 employees.
His clout at City Hall is further entrenched courtesy of his close ties with Mr Sonko, which have seen him run most City Hall operations behind the scenes.
His deep knowledge of public service has seen him become an asset to his boss.
Even before Mr Sonko was barred from accessing his office, the acting CS has been overseeing a number of projects initiated by the county government.
And in July, he led a number of City Hall top officials in an inspection of various county projects that were near completion.
They include Kangundo Road Modern Fire Station, Kangundo Road Modern Market at Mowlem Ward in Embakasi, Dandora Stadium construction and the new maternity wing at Mama Lucy Hospital.
A two-time MCA, Mr Morintat also served in Dr Evans Kidero’s administration.
“He is one of those who are highly-trusted by Sonko. He has been there for long and even acted briefly as a clerk,” said the MCA.
However, Mr Morintat has also had run-ins with the law. Last month, he was among 15 City Hall officials summoned by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) over procurement illegalities and the irregular payment of Sh196 million in the ongoing construction of the Dandora Stadium.
He was also among City Hall officials Proland Limited and Iris Properties accused of not settling their Sh35 million debt. The orders were later quashed by the High Court.
Mr Morintat’s rise to the top echelons of power has been meteoric. He started as deputy town clerk during the defunct Nairobi City Council before being appointed PSM chief officer by Dr Kidero’s administration.
The Narok County native soon rose to the position of acting county secretary in August 2017 when Dr Robert Ayisi resigned over health issues.
He held the position until former county secretary Peter Kariuki was confirmed by Mr Sonko in April 2018.
But the sacking of Mr Kariuki in September 2018 brought him back.
A county secretary is responsible for the coordination and smooth operation of all county departments, reports to the governor and is responsible for any lapses in operations.
On his Twitter page, which has been up since November 2015, he describes himself as a father, current acting county secretary for Nairobi, former clerk in Kilifi County and has only tweeted nine times since 2015: all are retweets of projects tweeted by Mr Sonko.
He is followed by only 124 people while he follows 133, key among them is the governor, Dr Kidero, Narok Governor Samuel Tunai, senior counsel Ahmednassir Abdullahi, former US President Barack Obama, Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and activist Boniface Mwangi. He also follows the ODM party.
In the 2017 General Election, he was prevailed upon to briefly hold his political ambitions of becoming Narok governor in favour of Governor Samuel Tunai completing his second term.
He has, however, made it clear that he will go for the governorship in 2022 and is assembling his dream team.
He has had political ambitions back in his home county, where he is a household figure, attending several fundraisers and also initiating projects.