In a ferocious clash of interests, Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja finds himself under a barrage of relentless attacks. Over the past months, accusations and allegations have been hurled his way, seemingly orchestrated by disillusioned officials and politicians who thrive on corrupt dealings that are now being thwarted.
Amidst this turmoil, startling claims have emerged that nine companies received payments for supplies that were never delivered to the county government. These allegations have surfaced precisely as Governor Sakaja intensifies his fight against corruption within the county administration. This offensive against graft has apparently ruffled the feathers of powerful cartels that have long controlled nefarious deals within the city hall’s corridors.
While these claims lack merit, it is imperative to delve into the reasons behind the escalating attacks on Governor Sakaja, who has barely completed his first year in office. It appears evident that corruption, having had its avenues curtailed and operations streamlined under the Sakaja administration, is now pushing back in a bid to regain its foothold.
Governor Sakaja’s approach to governance has been a departure from the norm. His appointment of cabinet members from diverse political backgrounds aimed at inclusivity, drawing criticism from some politicians who expected exclusive appointments for their party. Sakaja, however, remains steadfast in his belief that his responsibility is to serve all Nairobi residents, irrespective of political affiliations.
The battle lines extended to various development projects. The construction of hawker shades, for instance, which aims to streamline hawker activities and ensure proper revenue collection for the county, has faced opposition. This move directly challenges the cartels’ illicit cess collection in Nairobi Central Business District (CBD) area, leading to a concerted effort to discredit the governor.
Similarly, the green park bus terminus project, which was intended to streamline long-distance public transportation with the aim of creating space in the CBD for town service vehicles and parking space, encountered resistance from a few powerful figures representing the Mount Kenya region. This opposition is traced to the perception that Nairobi’s economic dominance is concentrated within their region, driving their bid to exert control over the city’s affairs.
Even the quest for equitable employment opportunities has not been immune to attacks. Cartels and well-connected individuals, disgruntled by their inability to manipulate job placements for friends and relatives, have targeted Governor Sakaja’s efforts.
Critics aligned with past county administrations have also contributed to the barrage. The ongoing completion of the Dandora stadium, a project previously marred by corruption allegations, has become a battleground. Despite these challenges, Governor Sakaja remains resolute in driving forward the county government’s agenda.
Recently, the Sakaja administration’s launch of the ‘Dishi Na County’ school feeding program faced legal hurdles, with former Education CEC Janet Muthoni Ouko spearheading a court battle against its implementation. The High Court’s initial suspension of the program, citing its alignment with national functions, underscores the lengths to which adversaries are willing to go.
In a bid to derail Governor Sakaja’s vision for the education sector, the petitioners, who include former officials from previous administrations, argue that the program’s funding allocation encroaches upon national responsibilities. They further assert that the allocation of Ksh.1.2 billion to the program in the 2023/2024 Nairobi City County Budget unlawfully diverts resources from other vital development projects.
As the tempest rages on, Governor Sakaja’s commitment to integrity and transparency remains unwavering. Despite the onslaught of attacks from vested interests, he stands as a beacon of hope in Nairobi’s battle against entrenched corruption and vested interests. Time will reveal whether his administration’s determination to usher in lasting change will withstand the relentless efforts of those seeking to undermine progress for their own gain.
Kenn Okaka is a media and communications consultant