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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Kidero now changes tact in city politics

Nairobi governor Evans Kidero has of late changed tactics in Nairobi politics as he works to honour the election pledges to city voters in the last general elections and ahead of 2017.
Aware of the fluid and the sensitive nature of Nairobi politics, where tribalism, opposition politics, service delivery, working with the government in power and above all,   aware the instrumental slum vote matters, Kidero has gone back to the drawing board and worked on new mechanism to endear himself to voters across the board.
Kidero initial troubles in office had to do with an election petition filed by his opponent and former Nairobi deputy mayor and assistant minister, Ferdinand Waititu, challenging his win on ODM ticket, a party allied to Cord. The court case that eventually landed in the Supreme Court that eventually declared him the eventual winner is said to have eaten his first years in governorship almost rendering him irrelevant.
In fact, it is said after the High Court ruling that favoured Waititu, Kidero started working on a plan B incase of any eventuality. The plan B was to face Waititu in a by-election or any other candidate.
It is this by-election factor that occupied his mind for sometimes forcing his opponents and critics labelling him a failure and ineffective.
Informed sources say, using their connection at City Hall, Kidero opponents embarked on sabotaging events and development projects at City Hall, anticipating for a by-election. The idea was to label him a total failure who could not deliver to Nairobi residents. The moribund CCTV project was initiated by the Metropolitan ministry during the Kibaki era and which he inherited during the transition period.
As Kidero was running up and down in courts, his opponents using cartels at City Hall were busy trading and exchanging documents which mostly originated from then Nairobi City Council to score goals. The cartels that had entrenched themselves in procurement, supplies and finance offices, were worried of their future. They were fighting back using political connections.
It is not only in City Hall that Kidero opponents perfected their art. Information we have is that they planted spies on the governor to get briefs on his plans, close business associates and his investments.
The said spies would during the day pretend to be close to Kidero, running his errands for his future political plans but come night, the would enjoy drinks and brief his opponents on who the governor met, what he plans and how to counter.
Perfecting the art of being close to Kidero, the spies moved from one office to another, accessing documents in the name of helping to streamline activities at City Hall with full blessings of Kidero only to deliver them to his opponents.
They compiled a list of perceived corrupt officials stationed at City Hall, accessed payments and procurement process. They threatened to block payments if not paid protection fee. The so-called corrupt staff had to part with money for survival. The threats being they will be reported to Kidero and be sacked. The scheme was to cause tension between the governor’s office and a section of senior staff putting the two on collision course. To survive, the managers started leaking out confidential documents as a fight back.
We have information conmen who used the governor’s name for survival have since been sidelined and are no longer close to him. Our source revealed they are not allowed in his office as before. They used to enjoy unlimited access to Kidero and even boasted to be able to fix issues.
For almost a month now, Nairobians have been discussing a new-look and rebranded Kidero who was accused of spending time in his office at the expense of service delivery. He is now rarely found in office but out addressing matters on the grassroots.
Whereas his handlers earlier argument was the governor was working on modalities and laying ground on what need to be done, his critics did not spare him but bayed for his political blood.
One area that occupied the governor first days in office was how to cut City Hall coming year’s wage bill.
Due to his bold move that led to retirement of over 1,000 workers City Hall has cut its coming financial year’s wage bill by Sh1.6 billion. No other county has managed to do so.
Going by the proposed budget, Nairobi will spend Sh11.6 billion on wages in 2015/16. In the current year Sh13.2 billion was allocated.
The prudent move will see the money saved used to pay debts that have almost brought the county to its knees. The creditors will be paid Sh1.54 billion. Sh600 million was allocated to pay debts in the current budget. Debts payment has been the issue many which was inherited from the county council.
One area that has paid dividends is the decision to transfer trainee doctor’s payroll to national government. The county reasons doctors pay was not its function but that of national government. This has seen county health wage bill down from Sh4.4 billion to Sh3.4 billion.
For now, Kidero is pushing for retirement of nearly 4,000 workers aged over 51 years at their own wish. It is imperative to note, currently, only 263 workers are below 30 years. With the majority of the youth being locked out of employment at City Hall, Kidero team has been forced to work on how effectively to engage them hence his continuous push of Ward Development Fund to employ them.
City Hall much cherished wish for establishment and provisions for the Ward Development Fund is a headache. It has failed to start as a result of legal petitions initiated by controller of budget and Charles Nyachae led Commission for the Implementation of Constitution.
Despite the ups and downs while at the helm of the richest county, Kidero of late has hit the road running.
To prove his critics wrong and address traffic jams that deny the country earnings due to wasted time, the governor for almost three weeks has personally been involved and chairing meetings day and night on how to solve the crisis. On a rare day that is Sunday, April 19 2015, when people were busy with their families attending church services, Kidero opened the Southern by-pass to be used by trucks weighing above eight tonnes. He had attended a church service in the morning and then headed to function.
In an effort to reduce traffic congestion, trucks will divert at Ole Sereni Hotel connect Lang’ata Road near Uhuru Gardens and head to Waiyaki way at Kikuyu.
Since he opened the by-pass, traffic flow along Mombasa road, to Uhuru Highway all the way to Waiyaki Way has drastically improved.
Sources say Kidero and his team from January to now, are out to make Nairobi “a moving city”.
The opening of Southern by-pass has unlocked the traffic jam. Motorists in Westlands are enjoying the fruits of blocking Westlands round about and other initiatives made by county transport ministry headed by Mohammed Abdullahi involving roads in the area.
The flow at Bunyala and Nyayo round abouts is being worked on after drums and a bid to reconfigure it was suspended. Plans to put in place civilised junctions in three months is bubbling in top gear.
Expansion of Enterprise Road, Lusaka Road, Likoni Road and Mumias one is on. The dual construction at Outering Road is part of the plan.
To reach and address Nairobians directly, Kidero was last week down town Nairobi River road areas. He easily intermingled with commoners as he walked along the streets. He launched LED lights on Accra Road. This left many questioning if the governor was playing his cards close to his chest and has decided to release them one by one.
To decongest the ever busy downtown streets, a move to have public service vehicles plying upcountry routes operating outside central business districts is being evaluated.
The county transport executive is to meet PSVs operators from Kisumu, Kakamega, Busia, Homa Bay, Mombasa, Bungoma, Mbita, Siaya, Kisii, Kericho, and Migori to work out accommodative formula. To avoid politics taking centre stage, the stakeholders are to air their views freely.
However, as Kidero tries to decongest the city, he needs to address the filthy Muthurwa market and the marauding street urchins that snatch valuables from unsuspecting residents.
According to Julius Mutumbayi, a university don, Kidero’s change of tactics is bound to bear fruits if he decides to engage in hands-on management not hands-off.
To the don, Kidero needs to move swiftly in the environment department and see happenings in garbage collections, street cleaning and estates at large. CBD alleys are in bad state. Mutumbayi further wants Kidero to visit Muthurwa market and see for himself the plight affecting those operating from there. The environment is not friendly.
On security, he says, Kidero should establish a team to operate along Kahawa House-Haile Selassie Avenue and Uhuru Highway from Nyayo House to Harambee Co-operative House to arrest muggers and snatchers.
“Kidero’s initial days in office were consumed by court cases and eyes on paper works on what to implement. For now, he cannot excuse himself but deliver what he promised Kenyans and Nairobians and it is not late at all,” the don said.
When asked about city politics, the political science doctorate holder was quick to say, “As an incumbent governor of Nairobi, he has a headstart if he decides to defend his seat come 2017.”
He gave various reasons. First, within the opposition Cord, nobody has the financial muscle and political network to rival Kidero. Analysts say, it is only Kidero who can finance campaigns within city county wards. It is imperative to note, nobody within Cord has come out openly to declare he or she will oppose Kidero on ODM ticket for now.
“What happened during his grilling at Integrity Centre by EACC when accompanied by supporters who forced him to walk send signals,” said the don.
Analysts say with the nature of city politics, Kidero needs to deliver and entrench himself in Cord and the rest will be left to voters.
Aware he is the formidable candidate in Cord, those eyeing governorship on Jubilee side have directed all missiles at him ahead of 2017. Some are even said to be willing to cross to Cord and get the ticket if Kidero is not running.
Propaganda wars have been waged against him and even word he will not defend his seat is being whispered in certain quarters. One of his opponents is said to have hatched a plot to scare Kidero from 2017 race by forcing him to chicken out. Whether the scheme will work time will tell.
Those out to oppose Kidero come 2017 are Senator Mike Sonko who will face the monied Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru. The two will battle for Jap nomination. Waweru convinced Waititu to shift base to Kabete by-election and run for Kiambu governorship, come election time.
Waweru has managed to bring to his side all Kikuyu MPs in parliament and a number of MCAs allied to TNA.
He is inheriting Waititu vote block and has Starehe MP Maina Kamanda on his side. Kamanda has no time for Sonko. The MPs say Sonko has no money compared to Waweru who is the brains behind Faida Bank.
The anti-Sonko MPs are Yusuf Hassan of  Kamukunji, Benard Mutara, Makadara, Waihenya Ndirangu, Roysambu, Gakuya Mwangi, Embakasi North, John Ndirangu, Embakasi Central and Kamanda. According to Waweru side, no serious MCA is fully behind Sonko.
They have been moving across the county selling Waweru as State House preferred candidate for governorship. They say Sonko used the Kikuyu community to win senatorship and has failed to deliver two by-elections that of Mathare North and Kajiado Central to Jubilee despite being facilitated with millions.