CAPITAL CITY

Will Badi pull Nairobi from the precipice?

Elected leaders mired in squabbles, grandstanding and lack of unity of purpose.

In Summary
  • Nairobi is Kenya’s ‘sitting room’. It is the major port of entry for international visitors.
  • It hence needs a seamless working system to match its global status.
Mlango Kubwa MCA Patricia Mutheu is clobbered by police officers on the county assembly corridors when MCAs went to serve the speaker with a court order on July 28, 2020.
Mlango Kubwa MCA Patricia Mutheu is clobbered by police officers on the county assembly corridors when MCAs went to serve the speaker with a court order on July 28, 2020.
Image: FREDERICK OMONDI

The resignation of Beatrice Elachi as the Nairobi county assembly speaker has marked yet another interesting episode in the ongoing ‘series’ depicting the slow but decisive takeover of Nairobi by the national government. Ever since she was handpicked by the President and endorsed by the majority MCAs as a formality, Elachi has known no peace. She has had run-ins with the governor, MCAs and even the clerk.

A few days ago, MCAs allegedly allied to the governor were on a mission to oust her. Their efforts were thwarted by police officers and in the process, the Mlango Kubwa MCA was injured. City Hall has historically been a theatre of bare-knuckle politics. However, with the advent of devolution, Nairobians expected better from their representatives. A quick scan of those elected at the helm of Nairobi leadership however reveals otherwise.

The governor has already ceded most of his administration’s critical functions to the national government via the Nairobi Metropolitan Services. That’s a big indictment on his capability as a leader. Ideally, he would have taken political and moral responsibility and just like the speaker, resign from office. However, morality and Kenyan politics are mutually exclusive.

As for the senator, who often comes across as a sober (no pun intended) leader endowed with futuristic thinking, things seem to have been tough for him recently after he was fined for breaking the curfew. His state of inebriation at the time of arrest and choice of words to the officers has led many to wonder whether the image he portrays publicly is different from his real persona. He is also facing mounting political pressure over the ongoing revenue sharing formula impasse in the Senate. The hitherto outspoken county woman representative seems to have taken a sabbatical.

However, the main theatre of the failed and broken leadership is at the county assembly. Here, guns, teargas, pepper spray and all manner of crude weapons are showcased with impunity. Having been converted into a war zone, it will not surprise anyone if one fine morning we wake up to a motion in the county assembly urging the government to supply members with bullet proof vests.

The endless squabbles, grandstanding and lack of unity of purpose among the elected leaders makes it difficult for anybody to make a case for the status quo. Nairobi is Kenya’s ‘sitting room’. It is the major port of entry for international visitors. It hence needs a seamless working system to match its global status. With an ‘impotent’ governor who doesn’t have a deputy, and no substantive speaker of the county assembly, the raison d’etre for the county government is non-existent.

The efficacy of Maj Gen Mohamed Badi and his team at the NMS is giving credence to the narrative that Nairobi ought to operate under the national government. This will enhance service delivery and save us from the embarrassment of political shenanigans being witnessed currently.

Having tried the ‘corporate’ governor in Evans Kidero and the ‘street smart’ Mike Sonko, it’s clear that Nairobi needs an apolitical figure to run it. Will Badi rescue Nairobi by shouldering the cross of corruption, hooliganism, cartels and other maladies associated with it? Only time will tell.