How BBI seeks to ‘cure’ future wrangles between Nairobi Governor and NMS boss
Nairobi County has been plagued by incessant power battles since the establishment of Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) in March.
The supremacy battles between Governor Mike Sonko and NMS Director-General Mohammed Badi have been so vicious that they have threatened to paralyse delivery of services in the capital city.
If not wrangles over the payment of pending bills and contractors, then it is over allocation of funds to county functions, secondment of county employees, or credit over the implementation of county projects.
NMS came into force in March to oversee four key functions of Nairobi County that had been transferred to the national government by Governor Sonko through a Deed of Transfer signed between the two governments on February 25, 2020.
The Deed saw four county services of health, transport, public works, utilities and ancillary services, and county planning and development services transferred to NMS.
But constant fights over the execution of the functions between Mr Sonko and Maj-Gen Badi have dominated the headlines resulting in the former declaring a dispute over the execution of the transferred functions. The dispute is now before the Attorney-General’s office for mediation.
The fights have been so nasty to the extent of the City Hall boss holding on to crucial documents on the transferred functions despite calls from the national government to have the same handed over.
On October 15, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani declined a request from Mr Badi to release money for payment of more than 6,800 seconded county staff citing the unresolved dispute and lack of a legal framework to facilitate such a transaction. Mr Yatani said the funds can only be remitted to the Nairobi County Government (NCCG) Revenue Fund Account and not to NMS.
However, the recently-launched Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report could bring an end to the constant tiff between the two heads of the institutions, if adopted.
The report proposes that Parliament, within a year, make legislation to provide mechanisms for the carrying out of functions of certain functions relating to the Nairobi City County distributed to the national government.
According to the report, county functions of health services, county transport, county planning and development, county public works and firefighting services and disaster management should be taken over by the State.
This will be made possible by amending the Fourth Schedule of the constitution to provide that the functions and powers therein be transferred to the national government.
The functions are currently run by NMS apart from firefighting services and disaster management, which are domiciled in the office of the governor.
In June, President Uhuru Kenyatta, in a revised Executive Order, added NMS as one of the offices falling under the Executive Office of the President, entrenching the new office as a public office.
This, in essence, placed NMS as a department under the national government to execute the functions on behalf of the county government.
Nonetheless, the development did not cure the fights, with Governor Sonko declining to assent to the Nairobi City County Appropriation Bill, 2020, that had allocated Sh27.1 billion to NMS for its operations in the financial year ending June 30, 2021.
In the memorandum, the City Hall boss rejected the budget, calling for allocations to NMS to be voided as the allocations contravene articles 5.2 and 5.3 of the Deed of Transfer of functions.
Vetoing the memorandum by the governor would require a vote from at least two-thirds of the ward representatives, which could prove a herculean task.
This was witnessed in April when the governor had his way by overturning an attempt by MCAs to allocate the new office Sh15 billion in the county’s supplementary budget.
The budget was instead slashed to Sh3.5 billion in line with allocations from the County Executive.
However, the BBI report has made this provision a little easier by proposing for the threshold to be reduced to a simple majority.