Most visible personalities of 2018

Nairobi County Governor Mike Sonko when he appeared before senate Public Accounts and Investments Committee where he reiterated that the decision to remove matatus out of the CBD will remain. December 3, 2018. Photo/Jack Owuor
Nairobi County Governor Mike Sonko when he appeared before senate Public Accounts and Investments Committee where he reiterated that the decision to remove matatus out of the CBD will remain. December 3, 2018. Photo/Jack Owuor

Fred Matiang’i: The no-nonsense Interior Cabinet Secretary has been among the most active and visible faces in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee administration.

This year, Matiang’i started ambitious police reforms to make the service more reachable, accountable and reliable. As a former Education CS, Matiang’i’s strategic deployment of officers helped to secure the 2018 national exams, which had minimal leakage.

But perhaps, Matiangi’s biggest score is on road safety through the reintroduction of the Michuki rules. The December holidays had minimal road fatalities compared to previous years. This could be attributed to the crackdown and campaign to restore sanity in the transport industry. The state has appointed a task force to enforce laws on boda boda transport.

In 2019, Matiang’i plans to introduce a new cadre of cadet officers in the next police recruitment. This will comprise trained experts in various fields and shall offer professional skills in the service. The professions include, but are not limited to, ICT, law, medicine, engineering and psychology, among others. This would be a game-changer as the CS seeks to professionalise the service.


Mike Sonko: The Nairobi governor takes no prisoners. He can fire any of his staff at any time and many have fallen short of his expectations. Sonko’s deputy Polycarp Igathe resigned in January in unclear circumstances.

Kenyans remain divided over his governance approach, which includes recording phone conversations. To Sonko, he is enhancing accountability by exposing cartels, including those trying to bribe him. Critics say his conduct amounts to breach of trust.

Despite the melodrama that characterised City Hall in 2018, Sonko has some visible achievements. They include re-carpeting of roads, especially pothole patching within the CBD. Some feeder roads across all wards have been given a major facelift as part of Sonko’s plans to improve infrastructure in the city.

Currently, there is the ongoing construction of the new Donholm road and Dandora Phase IV. Sonko has also enhanced the beautification of Nairobi, revenue collection and has been on the forefront of battling graft cartels.

His team was part of the Nairobi regeneration committee that fearlessly demolished houses built on road reserves and riparian land.


Mithika Linturi: The Meru senator, who had a mixed bag in 2018, was always in the news. On a positive note, he finally managed to graduate with a law degree from the University of Nairobi after he secured a court victory. The High Court ruled that the decision by the university to remove his name from a list of last year’s graduands was “illegal, unconstitutional, unreasonable, irrational, oppressive and procedurally unfair”.

Businessman Francis Mburu was later to claim that Linturi was among four senators who asked him for a Sh100 million bribe during investigations into the Ruaraka land saga. The Senate Powers and Privileges committee dismissed the allegations. But the real drama in Linturi’s life this year is his unending marital wars with wife Marianne Kitany.

The two are engaged in a bitter battle for a palatial home in Runda. Kitany accuses the senator of exposing her to STIs. The former aide to Deputy President William Ruto has already filed divorce papers, accusing him of infidelity, cruelty and desertion. Kitany wants a share of the multi-billion properties they jointly own and to continue staying at their Runda home.


Aisha Jumwa: The fire-spitting Malindi MP’s about-turn from an ardent supporter of Opposition leader Raila Odinga to the face of ODM rebellion at the Coast has been a subject of debate in 2018. The eloquent Swahili speaker has vowed to take the political bullet for Deputy President William Ruto, even as the Orange party plans to kick her and other rebels out.

The vocal politician has taken Raila by the horns and vowed that she is ready to lose her seat should that be the cost of her support for Ruto. The politician was recommended for dismissal from the party by the disciplinary committee over her open rebellion to ODM’s positions.

The change of heart came soon after the truce between Raila and President Uhuru Kenyatta. To Jumwa, she is simply continuing the spirit of the Uhuru-Raila handshake. She has been throwing relentless jabs at Raila to the chagrin of his lieutenants.

At some point, she challenged Raila to denounce the handshake with Uhuru if he believes she should be punished for her dalliance with Ruto. She has not hidden her love for Ruto and says the DP will be Kenyan’s fifth president in 2022 and not Raila.


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