HOODWINKED?

Sonko: I don't know what I signed with Uhuru

Governor threatens to move to court to reverse transfer of county functions to the state.

In Summary

• In a shocking post on his Facebook page on Tuesday, the flamboyant county boss threatened to move to court to terminate the agreement he signed in the presence of the President.

• The governor sensationally claimed he was hoodwinked into signing the agreement, saying that he never saw the draft document before signing it. “I was not given sufficient time to even read the draft." 

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka witness Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa and Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko sign the transfer of functions agreement at State House, Nairobi on February 25.
WHAT ACCORD? President Uhuru Kenyatta and Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka witness Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa and Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko sign the transfer of functions agreement at State House, Nairobi on February 25.
Image: PSCU

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has threatened to halt the transfer of the county's key functions to the national government.

In a bitter falling-out with top state officials in President Uhuru Kenyatta's circle, Sonko claims he was hoodwinked into signing the transfer of critical county functions agreement, saying he did not know its content when he signed.

He pledged not to allow "cartels" to take charge of the city.

In a clear signal that things were quickly falling apart between City Hall and the state, Sonko, on his Facebook Page, claimed he never saw the draft transfer of functions deed before signing it.

The governor said, however, that he went ahead and signed the document out of his "love for the great people of Nairobi" after he was told the transfer would enhance service delivery to residents.

“I was not given sufficient time to even read the draft. I was just told it is a good thing on service delivery to the Great people of Nairobi (sic) as I deal with my court cases,” Sonko said.

He claimed that since signing the agreement, he has never been furnished with a copy of the deed of transfer that he signed with Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa.

He accused some "greedy" officers of hijacking the process to "embarrass and frustrate me".

"Please forgive [me]. I will never repeat that mistake again. In fact, I'm starting the process of terminating the deed of transfer just like any other ordinary contract. I will now personally go to court to have it terminated," Sonko said.

Section 9 of the Deed of Transfer provides the duration and termination of the agreement. It states that the deed shall be effective for 24 months and may only be terminated by the mutual written consent of both parties expressed in a common document.

The governor’s Tuesday outburst was ignited by the police destruction of sanitisation booths erected by the Sonko Rescue Team, an NGO run by the county chief.

SRT had erected the booths in several areas, including informal settlements, to aid in the fight against Covid-19. But they were destroyed by the police, an act the governor said was part of a wider scheme to embarrass and frustrate him.

The Star has established that the outburst was the culmination of the tension that had been simmering between the county boss and some state officers, among them those charged with managing the transferred functions.

The parties clashed soon after the deed of transfer was signed and the Kenya Revenue Authority took over the collection of all county revenues on March 16.

“There are people who have chosen to hijack the process. He (the governor) is not happy with the way they are managing the process and he is contemplating going to court,” the governor’s spokesman Ben Mulwa told the Star

Sonko signed the transfer of four county functions at an event presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta and witnessed by Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka and his Nairobi assembly counterpart Beatrice Elachi on February 25.

I was not given sufficient time to even read the draft. I was just told it is a good thing on service delivery to the Great people of Nairobi (sic) as I deal with my court cases.
Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko

 

Sonko transferred health, transport, planning and public works and auxiliary services to the state.

KRA was appointed the principal agent for overall revenue collection that went into effect on March 16.

Soon after the taxman took over, it closed the initial four revenue accounts operated by City Hall and opened two new accounts: National Bank 01071225251100 and Cooperative Bank 01141709410000, which will be under the authority's control.

The county government was locked out of the new accounts.

Initially, the City Hall operated NBK 010602171997400 and Cooperative Bank 011412323966000 - main collection, 01141232396900 - liquor licence, which was managed by the Liquor Board, and 01141232396606 for garbage and waste disposal.

It is not clear whether these accounts have been closed.

On Wednesday, Mulwa argued that the KRA breached the law by opening two new accounts without the involvement of the county.

“The Public Finance Management Act is very clear on the procedure of opening accounts for county funds and the role of the county. KRA is just like any other agent but they took over going against the deed of transfer,” Mulwa said.

Sonko is not happy with the slashing of at least Sh203 million from his office’s budget for the newly created Nairobi Metropolitan Services that will manage the transferred functions.

He has accused the NMS, led by Mohamed Badi, and state officers of colluding with county assembly speaker Beatrice Elachi to allocate the authority Sh15 billion. Sonko rejected the budget, but Elachi returned the Bill to the governor unchanged.

The Supplementary Appropriation Bill, 2020, allocated Sh15 billion to Nairobi Metropolitan Services.

Several sectors, including the governor’s office, suffered budget cuts to finance NMS.

“What we witnessed in the special sitting last week is the speaker reading out a ruling to the house, rejecting the memorandum and yet she is an ex-officio member. We have MCAs telling us they never got a copy of the memorandum, what does that tell you? " Mulwa asked.

Citing Section 24 of the County Government Act, Mulwa said the governor’s memorandum cannot be ignored but the assembly can debate and pass it wholly without any amendments or if there are any amendments, then they can be done by two-thirds of members.

But Elachi has firmly maintained that the memorandum raised constitutional issues and she could not commit it to any committee of the house for a discussion.

“If the governor is raising a question of constitutionality over the ancillary services then we cannot debate the memorandum. This can only be done by the courts and not the assembly, “she said

According to Elachi and some MCAs, the appropriation bill will become law on Friday 4:04 pm whether Sonko whether or not assents to it.

At the same time, Sonko, MCAs and a section of senators believe the governor’s memorandum is still ‘alive’ and the bill cannot be passed to law.

Sonko also raised concerns with the manner of transfer of more than 6,000 City Hall staff to NMS by the Public Service Commission last month.

On April 3, the Public Service Commission chairman Stephen Kirogo, through a notice, announced that 6,052 county staff should report to the Kenyatta International Convention Center for collection of letters of secondment.

According to Sonko, the PSC has no powers over the management of county employees.

“As it stands, the responsibility still remains with the Nairobi County Public Service Board to notify its employees of the purported secondment. The Public Service Commission, on the other hand, should operate within its mandate, and can only second national government officers to the NMS,” he said.

 

Edited by P.O