By Ben Mulwa
I remember the palpable ecstasy that greeted the ascension of President Mwai Kibaki to Statehouse after the 2002 elections. The people of Kenya had grown weary after 24 years of his predecessor’s regime.
However, a few months into office, the noise started. Given that mzee was still recuperating from a near fatal accident, pundits held that his government had plunged into chaos. The cabinet, his confidants and the power brokers were all pulling in different directions, and that was garnished by cries of a dishonoured MOU. But eventually, the plane levelled, weathering many storms and mzee went on to excel.
I remember back in 2014 when Mrs. Margaret Kenyatta went to run in the London Marathon. She still hold the world’s historic record to date of the First Lady ever to accomplish such a fete.
To give the much needed moral support, President Uhuru Kenyatta travelled to London to support her. That was during the trial he was facing at the International Criminal Court. Upon arrival in London, there was no fanfare to receive him as head of state. In fact, save for some junior British official who paid a visit at his hotel room, there was nothing else stately about that visit.
However, this morning, it is President Kenyatta who rang the bell to kick off official trade of the day at the London Stock Exchange, and his program is courtesy of the British government.
On Sunday, April 15, 2018, I woke up to the horror of a story on Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko splashed across a whole two pages in the Sunday Nation. I read the piece three times, and I couldn’t help pity the authors and wonder what had become of objectivity.
In my view, the entirety of the article lacked any content or material importance to the residents of Nairobi and Kenyans at large. The attacks on his person, character and style were largely shallow, vengeful and only aimed at eviscerating the Governor.
The authorship can only have been inspired by individuals who have never come around the fact that Governor Sonko is duly elected and mandated to manage the affairs of Nairobi for the next five years.
Behind this mandate is a sound, elaborate plan that he personally oversaw it’s development for many months, which is summarily captured in his Manifesto.
We cannot pretend to be blind to the fact that Governor Sonko inherited a badly run-down and dysfunctional city from Dr. Evans Kidero. The only order his predecessor can pride in is the meticulously manner in which he plundered the city coffers, robbing residents of their right to services. Perhaps, that Kidero order is what the authors of that piece want to see at City Hall, and are seemingly exasperated.
To fix the mess the mess that Nairobi was is not and cannot be an overnight job, and calls for massive internal reorganisation and annihilation of deep rooted cartels that had made Nairobi their open granary for theft.
How Governor Sonko achieves that remains entirely his responsibility, executing his mandate in the best way he knows how. He did not just wake up to decide to become Governor. He had a grounded understanding of the vagaries chocking Nairobi’s progress, and knows what needs to be done to restore the city to its rightful, dignified status.
To attack and disparage him a few months into office can only be the architecture of people who miss the thieving days and ways of his predecessor. As the Governor of those who supported and opposed his bid, he requires support, not primarily for his own good, but for the overall good of Nairobi. We cannot afford another five years under the drain as was the case with Kidero.
It is only sensible for people to ultimately judge him by what he delivers for Nairobi, against the pledges he made. And that time is not far away. The same case applies to all his 46 colleagues.
To imagine that there’s a magic wand to fix Nairobi outside a complete overhaul of the system that has been, is to be simplistic and myopic. Even the babies conceived on the day of his inauguration are yet to be born!
In the mean time, we have a civic duty to play our role as residents to see to the success of the Governor and Nairobi as a whole, while providing constructive criticism. Our friends in the media too have a responsibility to steer clear of subjective journalism, and feed us with factual reports of achievements or failures arising from the Governor’s constitutional mandate, and not sideshows.
I personally don’t care whether he drinks Cognac, Fanta, yoghurt or wakes up at midday, as long as Nairobi is slowly and steadily getting back on track as the ‘Green City in the Sun’ of yore.