Governor Sakaja: Former President Uhuru Kenyatta betrayed me
On April 9th this year, President William Ruto, who was the Kenya Kwanza presidential candidate, unveiled Johnson Sakaja as the coalition’s candidate in the race to succeed Governor Anne Kananu.
Kananu had taken over office after the impeachment of Mike Sonko as the second Governor of Nairobi.
Margaret Wanjiru, who was eyeing the seat, then dropped her bid in favour of Sakaja and opted to run for the senatorial position instead.
But Sakaja was in for a rude shock as his journey was interrupted by four petitioners challenging his clearance by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on grounds that Sakaja lacked a valid university degree.
The cases could see Sakaja shuttle in and out of court at a time when the campaigns were at a fever pitch.
The High Court dismissed the case three weeks to elections and cleared the IEBC of any wrong doing in approving Sakaja to vie for the gubernatorial position.
“I was told I reached class two, but the truth came out, I am glad that we have a strong judicial system; that is not about the rule of man but the rule of law. They say ‘no pain, no palm, no cross, no crown, no girl, no glory, no thorns, no thrones’…that process refined, me I developed a thick skin. I used to move from court to the DCI, to campaign, to my campaign office to court to threats,” Sakaja told Citizen TV in an exclusive interview.
The governor claims the move to derail his dream to lead the city county was engineered by a man he refers to as his friend, retired President Uhuru Kenyatta; a man he worked so hard for to ensure he ascends to the highest office in the land in 2013 and 2017.
“I have no bitterness, I hold no grudge against whoever was behind it and you all know who was behind it. I miss my friend Uhuru Kenyatta as a friend, our journey was very long, politics divided us. I have respect for him. I remember the day we sat down and said ‘you can be president’ and I did a presentation in Muthaiga at Jomo Gecaga’s house and I was with Anne Waiguru, Anthony Kihara and a young man called Marvin,” recalls Sakaja.
“I had done a presentation and I had shown him the numbers, this was in 2008 or 2009, and he looked at it and asked ‘are you sure?’ He called his brother and they stood outside in the rain for an hour and he came back and said ‘you know what, I am ready.’ But in the time he had taken, Anne Waiguru and Anthoni were so upset they told him ‘my friend if you are not ready we have another candidate, this Sakaja will be our candidate’ and he said ‘No, give me my 10 years’ and it was a journey.”
Sakaja likens his journey to that of the former President Kenyatta who in 2013 had thrown in the towel and supported Musalia Mudavadi, only for him to change his mind days after.
“Even the system then was not for him, I remember him having to give up and he went and picked up Musalia Mudavadi to be the candidate and we said No, we took delegates to Multimedia University…in fact I did not how to pay for them, but that is the day I became a politician…I sang ‘mambo ya boardroom tumekataa kabisa’ and I was wearing a yellow tie that day and he came back.”
He says the election of the Kenya Kwanza government despite all the setbacks was proof that the people were more powerful than the Deep State.
“There is a deep State in terms of State craft, there are few individuals who make certain decisions, there are a few individuals who have great influence over billions and resources…what we have in Kenya despite that, the State craft can never be louder than the voice of the people,” he says.
The fourth Governor of Nairobi says what has been holding the city back was poor leadership that failed to involve county staff in decision making, something that he is changing through suggestion boxes.
“I have 13,422 staff who after being sworn in, I met them and they said, many of us have worked here since 80s and we have never met a Mayor, Governor…amazing people who have never been allowed to rise to the top, the problem has never been the people, it has been leadership,” he states.
Another challenge in the city has been garbage collection which he says he will sort by acquiring refuse compactors and employing young people to clean the city.
“Nairobi was a dump site…the whole of it, from the day we got in we have collected 214,000 tons of garbage…contractors were on strike, it was made a cash cow, more than 46 companies paid to deliver garbage to Dandora dumpsite, they work with weighbridge people, they carry stones…I told them this must change, their contracts end in March. My budget was passed and I am planning to buy 51 refuse compactors,” he notes.
With recent reports of poor services at health facilities operated by the county government, Governor Sakaja has vowed to initiate radical reforms to ensure Nairobi residents get quality services.
“We will not compromise on health care, Nairobi serves more than any other government in East Africa with 134 facilities, but a facility is not just a hall…NMS did 24 hospitals and I thank them but a lot of these things were done to show we are doing something, what is a hospital without medicine, a doctor, a nurse? It is just a social hall, so we are going to equip those facilities,” he states.
The Governor who has been on the receiving end following his controversial revocation of licenses to night clubs operating in residential areas says he will stick by his decision.
“It is not restaurants, we don’t have a problem with clubs, we have a problem with nightclubs making noise in residential areas, and you cannot say there will be job losses, who is employed to make noise? Just switch off the music at 10pm,” he insists.
Governor Sakaja, who hopes to collect Ksh.100 million of tax revenue a day from January, believes that there is need for the National Treasury to have a better cash flow management system to the counties as the delay in disbursements to counties continues to affect service delivery in all devolved units.
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