Nairobi has been under the most uninspiring leadership since the last elections.
Perhaps due to the huge expectations residents placed in the administration led by Evans Kidero after the 2013 elections, and the subsequent disappointment when spectacular outcomes were not evident five years later. Nairobians thus decided to place their fate in the hands of the exemplar of Kidero’s antithesis.
While Kidero was thought to be ‘too educated’, they went for a person with no academic credentials to speak of. Where Kidero was ‘too refined’ they went for roughest, rudest, most uncouth character they could find on the ballot.
Where Kidero was ‘too deliberate and procedural’ they chose the fellow with no respect for the law or procedure. They chose a guy who came with a private militia (probably paid for by public funds) whose responsibilities included bypassing public social service providers in the name of ‘rescuing Nairobians.
In my humble analysis, then, the people of Nairobi squarely deserved the foolishness of the Sonko administration. In the same vein, I would argue that the rest of us who identify with Nairobi as our capital city did not deserve the depravity with which it was being run.
We would have preferred a different kind of leadership that showcases our capital as a progressive global city, and not a backwater conurbation working hard to become huge slum dependent on an individual for even the most basic of needs.
We watched and listened with dismay as the leader of our capital city brought Nairobi to its knees so that his private militia could take credit for ‘saving’ those that could not access public services for which they paid taxes.
So today, we raise a glass to the momentary lucidity of Nairobi County Assembly members and the senators, who saw it fit to erase this painful chapter in our capital’s history. Getting rid of Sonko gives us the opportunity to reset the operations in our city.
Due to Sonko’s failure to appreciate prudent administration of resources, the national government saw an opportunity to set up a parallel city administration, a move that is now being criticised as part of the militarisation of civilian activities.
Unfortunately, Sonko and his administration did not provide a particularly persuasive alternative to this national government move. Instead, Sonko’s administration (or lack of it!) has given many Kenyans reason to argue that due to the uncertainties of democracy, it might be best to allow a degree of autocracy in decision-making to get even the simplest of things done. Health services. Clean water to city residents. Pedestrian walkways. Traffic control. Motorable roads.
One would have thought that we elect regional governments to get these things done, and done to our satisfaction. Mike Sonko made it look like an act of charity to get Nairobians the services they elected the county government to provide. He appropriated county functions and presented them as acts of philanthropy.
Sonko’s reign and ouster serve as an abject lesson in democratic governance. Our decisions at the ballot do matter, and decisions made in anger will come back to haunt us. Go well, Mike Mbuvi Sonko. And don’t come back!