On Tuesday, 25th February, 2020, sitting Nairobi County Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko did the unheard of: becoming the first Governor in Kenya’s history since the implementation of Devolution to hand over his county’s operations to the national government.
Sonko, who coincidentally is facing Kes. 357 Million graft charges after a meeting at State House signed the Memorandum of Understanding handing over the Nairobi city County operations to the National Government, in a document that was co-signed by Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa and witnessed by both the President and Senate Speaker.
According to reports from State House, the national government will take over among others:
*The County Transport operations.
*The County Health operations.
*Public works and utilities.
*County planning and development.
The deal, which was brokered by the President will see most of the serious and complex county operations taken over by the national government through the Ministry of Devolution.
The deal also states that the takeover will be implemented starting March 15th and is expected to last for 24 months, until March 15th, 2022 from when the parties involved can decide to extend the deal.
The deal, including the handed over operations will be funded by the county revenue, and it will be upon the national government to decide the funding for each operation, meaning the Nairobi County Government will be toothless and powerless, which reduces Sonko to a mere Paramount Governor.
The amount of funds to be allocated, according to the deal is expected not to be less than the amount the county Assembly appropriated in the previous years.
The national government, through its appointed agent, Kenya Revenue Authority will also take over county revenue collection and remittance.
Joint committees from both the Nairobi County government members and the National government members may also be formed to track down the county’s handling and track record, with an annual report explaining how the county is faring being tabled before the Nairobi County Assembly and the National Assembly.
In the event of any disputes between the national government and the county government, the selected committee members are expected to control the dispute, and come up with an amicable solution.
However, if both parties failed to come up with a solution, a 30-day window will be pened for negotiations and a follow up written for further consultation.
If both parties fail to reach an understanding, then the members of the public may be involved in the process.
The Nairobi County Human Resource Office is also expected, after consultations between the Nairobi County Public Service Board and the Public Service Commission, PSC to back up an agreement that will ensure the implementation of the whole hand over.
While Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, if not impeached will remain as the ceremonial Nairobi Governor, he will basically be doing nothing in office as after signing the agreement, he ceded almost all of his powers as County Boss.
The role of MCAs, allocations are not yet specific. In the past, it was the role of MCAs to debate and decide on the county budgetary allocations among other things. However, these roles will now be conducted by the national government.
The Nairobi County Speaker’s role has been left intact. Nairobi Speaker Beatrice Elachi will continue to oversee County Assembly day to day activities, albeit on a smaller scale of operations.
County staff are most likely to be slashed since the national government will bring its own people to work and oversee the county operations, leaving county workers, in the tune of hundreds unemployed.
Sonko might as well have signed his death certificate-politically with the move being seen as an act of treachery with many hidden agenda.
The handing over of county operations elicited mixed reactions since the announcement was made.
While some feel that it was the right thing to do as Sonko did not have the capacity to run a city as big as Nairobi, others feel that there was an infringement of their rights as voters who decided to vote in Sonko as their preferred candidate in the 2017 general elections.
Another sect also feared that the National Government was going against the law since in a ruling, Justice Mumbi Ngugi had ordered Sonko, who is on trial for graft to keep off Nairobi County operations and his Gubernatorial duties until his case is heard and determined.
Going by the ruling, Sonko was not supposed to conduct any transaction with anybody on behalf of the county government.
Others feel that the handing over will hurt the city’s economy even more, with projections that the move was made so as to allow the national government to get moneys from the county and use them for development and loans repayment.
A good number of people felt that the national government had failed them in conducting their duty and service delivery as a government and expressed fears that the same would happen after the county take over.
However, this is not the first time the Nairobi City County has been ceded by the state.
In 1983, then Vice President Moses Mudavadi pulled a Sonko, dissolving the Nairobi City County and ordering that all city functions be taken over by the National government with immediate effect.
The order, which was implemented between 1983 and 1992 oversaw one of the worst ran regimes with corruption flourishing in the city county council’s City Hall office.
By 1992, the revenue projections indicated that the national government was making up to 7 times less the amount of money the Nairobi city council had been making before it was ceded.
For instance, in 1981, Nairobi's capital expenditure per capita was $28 Million. By 1987, four years later, the same had dropped to $2 Million.
A report also revealed that corruption, threats, intimidation and even murder were the order of the day, happening right in front of the city leadership’s eyes who were at the helm during this period.
Now the big question remains, will the national government’s Nairobi county take over improve the city residents’ welfare or will it make it worse?
Only time will tell.
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