It will remain etched in the infamy corner of Kenyans’ memories for a long time to come: The physical confrontation between Nairobi senator Mike Sonko and Mombasa governor Ali Joho at a presidential function in Mombasa.
To the distant observer of the dishonourable encounter, it would seem like it was Joho who was on the wrong for refusing to shake Sonko’s extended hand as the two waited for Uhuru Kenyatta to arrive.
To those who were within earshot of the two however, it was Sonko the more culpable party. After Joho turned down Sonko’s handshake, a stung Sonko called him “shoga wewe”. It was then that a red-hot angry Joho reached for Sonko’s hand and had a tight squeeze on the bicep only for Mvita MP Abdulsamwad Sharif to intervene and block Joho.
Days earlier, the two’s rivalry played out in the full glare of Uhuru and William Ruto during the presentation of title deeds to Waitiki farm residents at Shika Adabu grounds in Likoni.
Never before have two foes who also happen to be leaders argued on the presidential dais in the president’s presence; not once, but twice.
Joho and Sonko argued so vehemently on both occasions that they visibly trembled with fury and emotion as they pointed aggressive warning fingers at each other.
Impeccable sources have divulged to your favourite CNYAKUNDI.COM that presidential security commanders are deeply unhappy about these demonstrations of temper in such close proximity to the president and are contemplating having the two and their goons disarmed in and around the dais in future.
It was even suspected the two were fighting out over a deal gone sour or even over women, which our investigations could not establish whether it was the case or not. What angered Joho most at the first skirmish were claims by Sonko in front of Uhuru to the effect that Joho’s friend had grabbed Mama Ngina Drive. This led to the belief that the wars had to do with land matters at coast.
Both have a love of firearms and surround themselves with heavily armed bodyguards, some of whom are not necessarily police or other disciplined formations.
Both of them have enjoyed unrivalled access to State House but have occasionally been frozen out, only to regain the access at a later stage. At the moment, Governor Joho is suffering isolation from State House. On his extended tour of the Coast that began on December 23 2015, President Uhuru Kenyatta completely ignored Joho for the first 16 days, and Joho lamented desperately about the cold-shouldering when he was given the opportunity at the Likoni meeting; pointing out that he is, for heaven’s sake, the chief executive officer of the county.
Both Joho and Sonko frequently suffer unconfirmed and widespread rumours about connections to drug dealing. Only the senator has bothered to reply to these concerns publicly, saying that his source of wealth lies in real estate dealings and public transport.
The Johos, who have an inkling of Arab blood, casually ascribe their wealth to the generational family fortune built up over the centuries since the notorious slave trade.
Sonko is the son of financially modest family and a self-made man. However, Joho’s camp says Sonko is an extortionist who will like to be seen as being close to Uhuru to intimidate tycoons to part with money. They further say the senator has no investments worthy boasting of and cannot manage a serious county campaign without getting facilitation from Uhuru as it happened in 2013. To Joho, rich people do not talk of their wealth but let their wealth talk on their behalf. Joho allies even say before Uhuru ascended to power, Sonko was staying in a rented house and at no given time did his bank accounts have over Sh10 million. To them, Sonko cannot give any money towards Uhuru campaign kitty. They say Sonko is a land broker whose deals are suspicious and have landed him in prison. To them, Sonko’s tricks is to post pictures on his Facebook wall whenever at State House to show his targets that he is close to the powers that be.
Governor Joho is one of the biggest muslim bankrollers of Raila Odinga’s ODM party and Cord, rivaled only by Suna East MP Junet Mohammed. His brother Abu is the main overseer of the family wealth.
Whatever their true business dealings are that generate the millions they give rivals even Ruto’s famed harambees, Joho and Sonko’s activities overlap on many points and fronts.
For instance, their current tiff is said by impeccable political intelligence sources to originate from the fact that both wanted kickbacks from Uhuru’s unprecedented initiative of settling the Waitiki Farm squatters and issuing them with title deeds. Sonko had wanted the owner of the land to demand Sh6 billion from the government and was to get his cut. Keen observers will have noticed during the tenure of Charity Ngilu at Lands ministry, Sonko was always at Coast trying to hammer the Waititu land deal. He appeared on the Uhuru list of shame as being involved in the Waititu land purchase deal.
Unfortunately for both operatives, the president changed tact and went to the Coast to reach out to the grassroots without the intervention of power and money and even engaged Waitiki directly. At one time, Uhuru invited Waitiki to State House late last year without Sonko or Joho. Unconfirmed reports say that in the deal, Uhuru told the owner the amount the government was to pay him was only Sh3 billion, a half which would come from the Treasury and the remaining being footed by the squatters.
Both men lost out big time on Waitiki hence the war. They both miserably failed to capitalise on Waitiki in terms of brokerage. Even more badly, word started doing rounds in Mombasa to the effect that Sonko should relocate from Nairobi and vie for the senate in 2017 and move to the governor’s mansion.
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