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Sonko-Miguna stunt exposes Jubilee rifts

President Uhuru Kenyatta has told government officials dealing with Miguna Miguna to enforce the law while respecting the courts, effectively leaving his fate in their hands.

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko’s surprise nomination of NASA activist Miguna Miguna as his deputy has exposed the vicious battle over 2022 succession in the Jubilee Party.

Sonko’s unexpected choice of Miguna, a man twice deported by his bosses, was the clearest indication of the bitter split in President Kenyatta’s party.

Sonko reportedly made the cheeky nomination without consulting the party’s top leadership to rebuff his detractors. It was also a show of contempt for those who had suggested a deputy that he has rejected.

Read : Sonko nominates Miguna as Deputy Governor

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja was equally disappointed. In a statement to the Senate yesterday, he enumerated the many challenges facing the city and the failure of essential services. He queried the use of revenue collected by the county government and called for intervention.

“Nairobi is too important, too important to all of us to be inundated by daily sideshows,“ he said. “Nairobi must be taken seriously.”

He said urgent action must be taken to fix Nairobi’s living and business environment, which he said has become unbearable.

Nearly eight months since he was sworn in, Sonko is yet to complete forming his administration. Chief officers — who are the accounting officers are yet to take up office. He has not appointed a replacement for his deputy, Polycarp Igathe, who quit in a huff.

Largely elected on the strength of the Mt Kenya vote in Nairobi, Sonko had publicly pledged that he would return the favor by nominating a Kikuyu woman as DG.

But just hours before the unprecedented nomination, the national government took over key county functions. The Kenya Defence Forces and NYS are set to be part of garbage collection operation.

The flamboyant county chief has been on the spot for poor services, including bad roads, insecurity in the city centre, influx of hawkers, traffic snarl-ups and poor garbage collection.

On Wednesday, Sonko joined Uhuru during the funeral service for victims of the Solai Dam tragedy.

In recent days, Sonko, one of Deputy President William Ruto’s closest lieutenants, had alleged an intricate plot to scuttle the DP’s 2022 presidential bid.

The revelations triggered speculations that the battle for the 2022 presidential poll had spilled into City Hall, with Miguna’s elevation being part of the power matrix.

But Miguna yesterday confirmed that he was yet to be contacted by Sonko over the high-profile job, in a clear indication that Sonko could only have been sending a message to his detractors.

“Sonko and I have not spoken, met or communicated since our gubernatorial debate in July 2017. I will not comment on malicious information, material or cheap propaganda circulating in social media,” the maverick self-styled NRM general said as he trashed the nomination.

Miguna has twice been forcibly removed from the country and subsequently denied re-entry, against express court orders.

But in a powerful contradiction of the Executive, Sonko declared that Miguna meets all the requirements of the law and is fit to serve as his second in command.

“The nominee meets all the requirements provided for in the Constitution, the Leadership and Integrity Act, the Elections Act and County Government Act,” he stated.

Ironically, Article 78 (2) of the Constitution prohibits persons holding dual citizenship from serving as state officers.

“A State Officer or a member of the defence forces shall not hold dual citizenship,” it reads.

Governors and their deputies are listed as State officers in Article 260 (h).

Last Sunday, EALA MP Simon Mbugua, a close Sonko confidant, claimed a powerful cabal of public servants opposed to Ruto was going flat out to crush those supporting his bid.

Read : Nairobi MCAs split over Miguna choice for DG job

He claimed that the group has formed a team calling itself ‘Putin’ and were behind the clamour to amend the Constitution to change the structure of the executive and shortchange Ruto. Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho denied the allegation.

At the center of the emerging rift is Opposition chief Raila Odinga who recently signed a truce with President Kenyatta and recently called for a parliamentary system with a three-tier structure of government. Raila has dismissed claims that proposed changes are designed to benefit him.

Yesterday, Jubilee leaders were sharply split over Miguna’s nomination, with Majority leader Aden Duale insisting that Uhuru must be consulted over the choice.

“Miguna’s name should be dropped and Uhuru consulted on who the Jubilee choice for DG is,” Duale said, insisting that Miguna is not a Jubilee member.

There is no law requiring the party to nominate the deputy.

However, National Assembly Majority Chief Whip Benjamin Washiali said that Miguna can take over the job after sorting out his citizenship dispute.

“As long as Miguna’s nationality issue is regularised, such that he is now recognised as a Kenyan, for me as a leader of Jubilee, I don’t have an issue if he is going to add value,” Washiali stated.

National Assembly Minority leader John Mbadi doubted Sonko’s genuineness in nominating Miguna but said it would be a better deal for Nairobians if it were true.

“How I wish it was real, but I think Sonko is not serious, he is just playing games,” the Suba South MP and ODM chairman said.

Mbadi said, however, Sonko could be looking for a tactic to delay the appointment of his deputy, given the legal hurdles Miguna’s nomination would face.

“Sonko probably doesn’t want to have a deputy and that is why he has nominated Miguna, knowing very well that his citizenship is in contention and that the government has issues with him,” he said.

Mbadi added that because of the challenges Sonko is facing, and the pressure to deliver, the governor could be fighting back against people scheming to impeach him.

“He knows that some people want him out and he wants to beat them at their game with Miguna’s nomination so that in case he is sent home, Miguna assumes office as governor. Who is the lesser devil?” he asked.

According to Mbadi, people opposed to the handshake between Uhuru and Raila could be behind the scheme to frustrate the handshake.

Also read : Miguna not Jubilee choice for DG, Sonko must consult Uhuru – Duale

Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi blamed Sonko for disregarding the law and failing to consult the Jubilee leadership.

She pledged she would not admit Miguna’s nomination as deputy governor.

Citing the Political Parties Act, the former senator said that the governor and his deputy are a pair that must belong to one party.

“I am not coming up with new rules or trying to block Miguna. If anything ,he is a very good lawyer and I have no doubt that he can perform. But we must follow the law,” she said.

“We don’t need to approve Miguna, then the following day a citizen moves to the Political Parties Disputes tribunal to revoke the nomination. Then Nairobians remain without a deputy governor for another two years,” she said.

Jubilee MCAs were also up in arms, arguing that Miguna does not belong to any political party.

The ward representatives led by Majority leader Abdi Guyo said they would not approve Miguna’s name if it gets to the floor of the house.

“I want to assure you, and you can take that to the nearest bank, that we will not approve Miguna’s name as deputy governor,” Guyo said.

Read: Deputy Governor nomination a ‘malicious distraction’, says Miguna

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