City stares at crisis as Igathe ditches Sonko
Mr Polycarp Igathe on Friday resigned as deputy Governor of Nairobi, a culmination of months of unease in relations with his boss Mike Sonko.
In a terse letter addressed to Mr Sonko, Mr Igathe said he was resigning effective 1pm on Wednesday, January 31 and thanked him for the opportunity to work as his deputy.
“Serving Kenyans in Nairobi under your leadership has been an honour and distinct privilege. I am grateful to Nairobians and yourself for giving me the opportunity to serve,” he wrote.
But on his Twitter page the Mr Igathe was more clearer, writing: “Dear Nairobians, it is with a heavy heart that I resign as elected deputy governor of Nairobi County effective 1pm on 31st Jan 2018. I regret I have failed to earn the trust of the Governor to enable me to drive the administration and management of the county.”
Mr Igathe had spent the better part of Friday morning at NTV studios at Nation Centre, where he enumerated the vision he and Mr Sonko had for the city. There was no hint of sour relations between him and Mr Sonko in the interview only for him to write NTV a text message shortly after 6pm saying he had resigned. Mr Sonko was swift in releasing his own statement an hour later.
“Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko has received a letter of resignation from Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe. The governor is considering the letter and will issue a comprehensive statement later,” read a statement from City Hall.
Deputy President William Ruto (centre) with leaders, from left, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, Nairobi Speaker Beatrice Elachi and Nairobi deputy governor Polycarp Igathe. Mr Igathe resigned on January 12, 2018 as deputy governor of Nairobi county.
The law remains unclear on what happens when there’s a vacancy in the deputy governor’s office. A proposed bill by Senate Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki and Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen on the process of appointing a deputy governor is yet to be debated by Senate.
Having been plucked from Vivo Energy as CEO, Mr Igathe was seen as a balancing force to the flamboyant Sonko; indeed the governor had indicated that his deputy would be a policy wonk as he toured the city to ensure field work was being implemented.
Their reign appeared assured after the High Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition that had been lodged by two voters challenging the election of Mr Sonko. This was not to be as signs of an uneasy relationship have been visible since the day they were sworn in.
When press reports emerged that the governor was unhappy with his deputy, he publicly revealed a series of WhatsApp conversations he had with Mr Igathe to prove all was well. But to keen observers the Mr Igathe’s responses to queries from his boss showed a subdued and subservient deputy governor.
A source at City Hall said the resignation came as a surprise to all including State House and his supporters. “This was a surprise to even me. State House and the governor did not expect this,” said the source
Friday’s resignation was a culmination of private sulking by Mr Sonkos aides that powers beyond him have been making decisions for his nascent administration.
From choice of deputy governor, election of county Speaker, nomination of county secretary and Mr Sonko’s manoeuvres, sources claimed everything appeared to be remote-controlled from State House.
Although his support for President Kenyatta has never been in question, his aides now say he is increasingly feeling managed, way beyond his comfort.
Mr Sonko’s aides, who did not wish to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, said they felt he was no longer his own boss as he had to work closely with national government.
Last year when Jubilee set out to capture the seat from ODM’s Evans Kidero, Deputy President William Ruto stated that Nairobi would be led by a Jubilee governor no matter the circumstances.
Soon after Jubilee won the governors seat, including the majority in the county assembly, the ground under Mr Sonko’s feet is said to have started to shifting. Jubilee MCAs were instructed by President Kenyatta to elect former nominated senator Beatrice Elachi as their Speaker. Now it is emerging Mr Sonko was not consulted.
Additional reporting by Lillian Mutavi