How Badi ‘finished’ Sonko
Even before his impeachment, Mike Sonko was already a governor without a portfolio having seen his powers considerably reduced when he signed the the Deed of Transfer of Functions in February.
The takeover by the national government effectively saw the former governor hand over to the State crucial county functions of health, transport, public service, utilities, and ancillary services, and county planning and development.
This led to the establishment of the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) in March to head the functions with the outfit headed by Major General Mohammed Badi as its Director-General.
Consequently, this left the former City Hall boss with the control of less influential county departments including ICT and e-government, Education and Sports, Agriculture and Livestock, Trade and Cooperative and depleted Devolution, Environment and Finance sectors just on paper.
Two centres of power were created with Sonko being left a paper governor as Maj-Gen Badi took control of affairs of the capital city.
With a financial war chest of Sh27.1 billion for the transferred functions, accounting for more than two-thirds of the county government’s annual budget, the former governor was left with a paltry Sh8.4 billion at its disposal.
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) would later take over revenue collection in Nairobi wrestling the key function of the Finance department controlling over Sh10 billion in own-source revenue from the City Hall boss.
More than 6,800 county staff would also leave City Hall for NMS despite protests by Sonko, leaving the county government with slightly over 4,000 employees out of the total 11, 603 workers.
In a show of where the new power resided, the NMS DG disbanded Nairobi County government’s pre-technical committee and the Nairobi City County Urban Planning Technical Committee.
The two committees were responsible for the consideration and approval of development applications in Nairobi.
He would later in July form a new one – urban planning technical committee domiciled in his office – to handle building plan approvals.
Maj Gen Badi would also announce the suspension of the e-construction system which was being used by City Hall declaring all applications processed through the e-construction development management system by City Hall from March 18, 2020, null and void.
In July, Badi would put Sonko in his place by stopping his attempts to move into Nairobi’s former Mayor’s residence in Lavington.
He ring fenced the property and warned the former Makadara MP against stepping his foot near the residence.
“I am not fighting the Governor because remembering the house has been vacant for the past two years. So what is this hullabaloo that he all over sudden wants to enter that house?” posed Badi.
Two months later, President Uhuru Kenyatta would leave nothing to guesswork on who he is in charge of the capital city by adding Maj Gen Badi as part of his cabinet meetings.
After taking an oath of secrecy in September, Badi began attending Cabinet meetings placing him at the centre of power.
This is after the President had included NMS as one of the offices falling under the Executive Office of the President meaning that the new outfit will be funded directly by the national government and have recruitment of its workers done directly by the Public Service Commission.
In October, a frustrated Sonko would have his remaining powers clipped even more with Nairobi MCAs passing a resolution to have the management of the Sh1.3 billion ward development fund (WDF) projects from his office to NMS.
“The fund cannot continue to be controlled by the governor because the office cannot cost, raise bills of quantities or certificates as all engineers, who are expected to undertake the projects, are now under the public works department, which is a transferred function under NMS,” said Nairobi County Assembly Budget and Appropriations chairperson and Kariobangi South MCA Robert Mbatia.
Speaking on Citizen’s JKL show that month, Badi reiterated he is the boss in Nairobi and urged Sonko to take credit for the development projects he is implementing across Nairobi instead of fighting him.
Attempts by Sonko to fight back only brought more trouble putting into crossroads with President Kenyatta.
He was gradually relegated to the periphery of State affairs where he used to enjoy the front row seat.
Sonko would quickly be isolated before being impeached by Nairobi MCAs on December 3, 2020, a resolution that was confirmed by the Senate on December 17, 2020.