Nairobi governor Mike Sonko is burning the midnight oil shopping for a suitable deputy governor who will add value by bringing votes to his table in the city’s 2022 gubernatorial race.
Sonko is also under pressure to go for the Machakos gubernatorial seat but he is said to favour Nairobi due to its cosmopolitan nature and structure.
Sonko is said to be shopping for a deputy in a bid to comply with the new law drafted by Kiambu senator Kimani Wamatangi that was assented to by Uhuru Kenyatta recently.
The assumption to the Office of Governor Act 2018 was signed into law by the president at State House two weeks ago.
The law provides that when a deputy governor’s office falls vacant, the governor shall within 14 days appoint a deputy and submit the name to the county assembly for approval.
(1) The person who assumes the office of county governor under article 182(2) of the constitution shall within 14 days, nominate the deputy governor; and county governor with the approval of the county assembly, appoint the nominee as deputy county governor.
With the timelines given in the law, a governor cannot go a month without a deputy.
(3) The county assembly shall – consider a motion for approval for the appointment of the deputy county governor, within 14 days, and resolve whether to approve the motion; and be deemed to have approved the motion for the appointment of the deputy county governor upon the lapse of 14 days and having failed to make a resolution.
The law further outlines the conditions through which a deputy governor’s office can be declared vacant.
The office shall be declared vacant when a deputy governor dies, resigns or ceases to be eligible.
The office of county deputy-governor shall become vacant if the holder of the office – governor. dies; resigns by a notice, in writing, addressed to the county governor; ceases to be eligible for nomination as deputy county governor under article 180(5) of the constitution; assumes the office of county governor under article 182(2) of the constitution; is convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for at least six months; or (is removed from office under this Act.
Sonko has gone for more than a year without a deputy after his previous deputy, Polycarp Igathe, resigned saying he had failed to earn the trust of the governor.
Sonko, who was summoned by the senate committee on devolution to explain why he has never appointed a deputy, termed it a non-issue.
He further stated that he would only appoint a deputy if the assembly passed a law that required him to do so.
According to sources at City Hall, Sonko is considering nominating a Luo or Luhya.
Insiders say Sonko is also alive to the fact that the Kikuyu community, which voted for him almost to a man is the last polls, is likely to field or back another candidate, and hence a face that is the best bet to bring in the Luo votes to his basket.
The governor is also aware that Evans Kidero is likely to make a comeback through ODM.
To win the Luo votes, Sonko has been bankrolling Gor Mahia Football Club, the latest being his gesture to dish out Sh1 million to the players ahead of their CAF Confederations Cup clash with RS Berkane in Morocco.
The governor wired some Sh500, 000 to the team captain Haron Shakava to receive on behalf of the players via Western Union, with a promise that the balance would be wired the next day.
In the past, Sonko has run to the rescue of the team, buying them airtickets to honour international matches. Gor Mahia patron is ODM leader Raila Odinga, who is said to be developing a soft spot for the Nairobi governor.
Last year, Sonko deferred naming his deputy and instead asked for more weeks to consult allegedly following a request from the National Super Alliance, which wanted city politician Rahab Wangui considered for the position.
While displaying a letter purportedly from Nasa signed by coalition CEO Norman Magaya in Kilifi, the governor said that in the spirit of the handshake, he had decided to consult further before coming up with a name for the post.Magaya is a Luhya.
Insiders say the governor is also considering picking former Nairobi town clerk Philip Kisia as his deputy. Kisia is a Luhya.
Of late, the former Nairobi town clerk has been defending Sonko saying city residents should applaud him for, in his words, instilling financial discipline and institutionalising the fight against corruption.
Insiders add that the governor is also toying with the idea of joining Kieleweke, a group that is opposed to William Ruto taking over from Uhuru Kenyatta but fears that its proponents such as nominated MP Maina Kamanda will fight tooth and nail to ensure he does not get the Jubilee Party ticket.
The governor hopes to endear himself to Raila, in case he is Uhuru’s preferred presidential candidate, and that explains why he is bankrolling Gor Mahia.
Keen observers will agree,Sonko has not been attending Dp William Ruto rallies across the country.That Sonko is deserting Ruto is manifested in the recent cabinet reshuffle he moved Charles Kerich from Lands docket to Finance,Economic and Planning as CEC.Kerich who is eyeing a parliamentary seat in Rift Valley has joined anti-Ruto forces.