Via Star Newspaper
Governor Mike Sonko threw Nairobi county into a crisis yesterday after he suspended 16 county officials including his ‘Super CEC’ Charles Kerich.
The mass suspensions followed the recent tragedy at Precious Talent Academy where a collapsed building killed eight pupils.
With the latest changes, nearly half of Sonko’s cabinet will be serving in an acting capacity meaning they cannot make some decisions.
The governor is being investigated by the EACC on claims of corruption in the award of the tenders for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 financial years.
If charged, the county may be plunged into more problems.
Sonko is yet to name a deputy more than a year after Polycarp Igathe resigned.
Among the 16 county officials, Sonko sent home yesterday were County Executive Member for Finance Kerich and Mohammed Dagane who headed the Health docket.
CEC for Agriculture Pauline Kahiga was named acting CEC for Finance and Economic Planning and Environment CEC Veska Kangogo was named CEC for Health.
Sonko’s leadership style has rubbed many people the wrong way raising questions about his management skills as head of Kenya’s capital city.
Since Sonko took office in 2017 more than 40 workers, including senior officials, have either been sacked or suspended.
In January, former county Education executive Janet Ouko painted the picture of a chaotic, intimidating and unprofessional leadership.
“At City Hall there doesn’t exist any respect for systems or policies,” she said.
According to City Hall employees, top officials in the Sonko administration live in constant fear of losing their jobs.
One of the officials told the Star that they can’t discharge their duties professionally.
“We are being monitored all over, being intimidated, harassed and we have people following us even in the bar,” an officer who did not want to be named said.
The latest suspensions have caused an uproar in the county assembly with its leadership expressing concerns over the governor’s move.
Majority leader Abdi Hassan Guyo said that the suspensions were baseless and those suspended were not directly involved in the school tragedy.
“Suspending people is not a solution. Investigations should have been properly done but not mess with people’s careers,” he said.
Minority Whip Peter Imwatok said that Sonko’s move to suspend CECs and other officers would cause a crisis at City Hall.
‘Sonko knows that his time is up. Therefore, he is now on a suspension spree with no evidence that the officers were connected to the tragedy that happened on Monday,’ he explained.
The Makongeni MCA alleged that Sonko’s probe by the EACC is what has triggered the suspensions
Imwatok said that Sonko has no clue of what happens at City Hall and firing people who have made efforts to see the county running day in day out was unreasonable.
“We all know that the governor does not operate at City Hall and with his absence he does not have an idea of what happens. Some of these officers come in early and leave when it is very dark just to see that City Hall is running,” he stated.
Kerich and Dagane had appeared to be Sonko’s favourite CECs since he took office in 2017.
While Kerich was appointed to act in almost all the dockets which faced crises, Dagane has only served in two dockets substantively.
The two together with CEC for Devolution Larry Wambua, Newton Munene (ICT) , Winfred Gathangu (Lands), Pauline Kahiga (Agriculture), Lucia Mulwa (Education) and Allan Igambi (Trade) have never been suspended.
Three months ago, Sonko made Kerich a ‘super executive’, appointing him to coordinate all county programmes.
The governor mandated Kerich to oversight, coordinate and implement county projects.
On April 5, 2018 Danvas Makori who headed the Finance Department was sacked for poor performance.
He had however been suspended two weeks earlier together with Acting Chief Officer for Finance Ekaya Alumasi for allegedly spying for former Governor Evans Kidero.
On April 19, 30 members from the procurement department were sent on forced leave for allegedly inflating prices and issuing local purchase orders without approval.
The officers were accused of failing to adhere to the Public Finance Management Act as well as the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, leading to loss of funds.
On June 5, Sonko suspended CEC for Environment Veska Kangogo for insubordination after she allegedly travelled to the US without his permission.
County Secretary Peter Kariuki consequently wrote to Kangogo and asked her to take compulsory leave.
In July 2018, Chief of Staff Brian Mugo, acting Chief Finance Officer Ekaya Alumasi, acting Head of Treasury Stephen Mutua had been shown the door.
Sonko accused them of misusing public funds.
“There was an intelligence report showing they had misused county resources. Internal investigations have implicated them,” said the governor in a July 29 letter. He went ahead and forwarded their names to the Director of Criminal Investigations.
On August 14,2018 Sonko sent John Ojwang’ home for his alleged role in granting permission for the construction of South End Mall on the Lang’ata Road-Mbagathi Way junction, and Gem Suites in Riverside estate.
In the past one year, Sonko has been seen to react whenever pieces of dirty linen pertaining City Hall have been revealed.
On September 19, 2018 Sonko suspended County Secretary Peter Kariuki and acting Health executive Kangogo over insubordination in the Pumwani Hospital saga.
Others who were suspended along were former Health Chief Officer Mahat Jimale and former County Attorney Lydia Kwamboka.
Still in the month, the governor suspended an officer from the Finance department for failing to bank Sh7 million cash collections from the previous day despite the bank being 50 metres away.
On August 1, 2018 the Governor suspended two senior officers over what he termed laxity at work
Health Executive Hitan Majevdia and County Health Director Thomas Ogaro were suspended as a result of the county health facilities lacking medicine.
However, in April this year Kangogo and Majevdia were reinstated back as the CEC for Environment and Transport respectively.
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