Sakaja vs Igathe: Truths and lies in Nairobi governor debate

Igathe and Sakaja are the leading Nairobi gubernatorial candidates according to opinion polls.

In Summary

•The debate was held in two phases. The first phase involved candidates with less than 5 percent in opinion polls ratings while the second phase had those with above 5 percent. 

•The second phase involved Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaj who is vying on a UDA party ticket against Jubilee's Polycarp Igathe.

FROM RIGHT: Nairobi gubernatorial candidates Polycarp Igathe (Jubilee) and Johnson Sakaja (UDA) during their debate on Monday, July 12, 2022.
FROM RIGHT: Nairobi gubernatorial candidates Polycarp Igathe (Jubilee) and Johnson Sakaja (UDA) during their debate on Monday, July 12, 2022.
Image: Presidential Debates Team

The Media Council of Kenya on Monday, July 12, organized Nairobi gubernatorial debate.

The debate was held in two phases. The first phase involved candidates with less than 5 percent in opinion polls ratings while the second phase had those with above 5 percent. 

The second phase involved Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, who is eyeing the governor debate on a UDA party ticket, against Jubilee's Polycarp Igathe.

Their debate generated lots of buzz on social media owing to the issues they raised they will do for the people of Nairobi and the support base they enjoy. 

The fact-checker has analysed the whole debate and debunked some of the statements made by the two leading governor candidates as illustrated below:

“I was chosen by 869,000 votes in 2017.” - Polycarp Igathe

We reviewed the election results for the 2017 general election posted by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. Mike Sonko and Polycarp Igathe received 871,794 votes in the 2017 general election and were elected Deputy Governor and Deputy Governor of Nairobi. Igathe resigned six months into his term while Sonko was later impeached.

Igathe slightly understates the number of votes he and Mike Sonko received, as per the report. However, given that he was the running mate to Mike Sonko, his claim that he received those votes leaves out Mike Sonko’s contribution.


The national government sent Sh370 billion shillings to the devolved governments. Only 19 billion came to Nairobi.” - Polycarp Igathe

According to the 2021 Division of Revenue Act, the national government allocated KSh 370 billion to the counties as an equitable share. The County Allocation of Revenue Act shows Nairobi received Sh19.25 billion.

In addition, according to the Statement of  Actual Revenues and Net Exchequer Issues dated 17 June, 2022, the Additional Allocations Act provided another Sh39.8 billion to the counties in conditional allocations from development partners. So the total amount provided to the counties was actually Sh409.8 billion.

In addition to the equitable share, the Additional Allocations Act provided another Sh153,297,872 in conditional grants from the national government and Sh866,7914 49 in conditional grants and loans from development partners, giving a total of KSh 20.27 billion.

In the Ballpark

“KSh2.2 trillion wamecollect Kenya Revenue Authority. 60 percent of the Sh2.2 trillion imetoka viwanda na wafanyakazi huku Nairobi” - Polycarp Igathe

According to a July 2022 press release by the Kenya Revenue Authority, the tax agency collected Sh2.031 trillion for the first time in Kenya’s history. His figure is Sh169 billion higher than the correct number.

We reached out to the Kenya Revenue Authority to confirm if 60 percent of its tax revenue collected came from Nairobi. The tax agency referred us to the press release published online and noted that it does not currently publish breakdowns of tax revenue by county.

No evidence

“The county was receiving Sh15bn. Now it receives KSh 19 billion.” - Sakaja

We examined the amounts Nairobi County received from the National Government in 2017/2018 when Sakaja was first elected and 2022/2013, the last financial year in which he was a sitting senator. 

In 2017/2018, the county of Nairobi received KSh 15 billion as equitable share, KSh 760 million as conditional government grants and KSh 2.3 billion as grants from development partners for a total allocation of KSh18.45 billion.

Abraham Rugo, the country manager of the International Budget Partnership, told the fact-checker that the only funds available to the counties so far in the 2022/2023 financial year are the funds allocated under the 2022 County Allocation of Revenue Act. This means the county has only been allocated KSh19 billion so far. 

Sakaja is correct on the equitable share of revenue in both years, and about KSh 3 billion short on conditional grants in 2017/2018.


“The Auditor general’s report about Nairobi City County disclosed that Nairobi County has a debt of over KSh 80 billion now.” - Polycarp Igathe

The most recent reports on the auditor general's website are for the financial year 2019-2020. Neither report on the county executive or county assembly mentions Nairobi’s outstanding debt. 

According to the county’s Debt Management Strategy Paper for 2022/2023 dated February 2022, the county’s outstanding debts were Sh76.9 billion as of 30 June 2021. 

The county’s fiscal strategy paper also dated February 2002 lists the county’s debts at Sh79 billion as of September 2021. 

In the Ballpark

“For the last three years, I have been rated the best performing senator in the Republic of Kenya”. -  Johnson Sakaja

We looked into this claim. Scorecards for Members of Parliament are created by Mzalendo, an organisation that works to hold lawmakers accountable. The score works by counting the number a member of parliament speaks based on the Hansard.

In 2020, Sakaja had the highest score in the Senate.He spoke 554 times. 

In 2019 the best-performing senator was Ledama ole Kina who represents Narok. He spoke 461 times. However, Sakaja was rated as the best performing youth in the Senate Assembly, with 93 speech counts. 

He was also rated the top-performing committee chairperson in the Senate, as chair of the Senate  Committee on Labour and Social Welfare.

In 2018 he was rated the top senator, speaking 640 times. He was also the best youth member of parliament.

Senator Sakaja was indeed honoured for three consecutive years, so his claim has some basis in fact.


“Revenue has gone down to KSh7 billion. Why is that? Because you’re not explaining to Nairobians the services you are offering.” - Sakaja

According to the controller of budget, Nairobi’s own source revenue at the end of the third quarter of the 2021/2022 financial year was Sh7,386,983,090. 

The Nairobi Metropolitan Services was created in February 2020, during the 2019/2020 financial year. Nine-month revenues in subsequent years have been higher than the Sh7.2 billion of March 2020, contradicting his claim.

However, Sakaja did not specifically refer to revenue collected in the third quarter, which leaves open the possibility that he was referring to whole-year revenue.   Own-source revenue in the entire 2020/2021 financial year was KSh10 billion, Sh8.72 billion in 2019/2020 and Sh 10.25 billion in 2018/2019. There is no evidence that annual own-source revenue has dropped to Sh7 billion, even if Sakaja’s remarks allow that interpretation. 


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