His Excellency Mike Mbuvi Sonko, the governor of Nairobi city County.
Forget it. Jubilee can’t field Mike Sonko as governor of Nairobi. Many people shudder at the thought of it.
Sometime in 2015, when Mike Sonko’s craze to succeed Dr. Evans Kidero hit fever pitch, it took Maina Kamanda, the last word on Kikuyu politics in Nairobi city county, to address a livid Mt. Kenya audience on Kameme FM. He was hosted by the corrosive presenter Njogu wa Njoroge.
Kamanda referred to Sonko as a “street urchin”. He told Njogu that Sonko is already broke; and will not last past the year.
Sonko had started a social welfare service akin to those invented by Latin American narcos boss Pablo Escobar. Sonko Rescue Team, as it then was, was the answer to Dr. Evans Kidero’s elite interventionist social programmes mired in bureaucratic red-tape.
The people needed clean water, school fees, hospital bills, money for food, money for alcohol and cigarettes, etc.
He was pro-people and pro-poor people. But true to Kamanda’s word, Sonko Rescue Team folded in the waning days of two thousand and fifteen.
It isn’t hard to tell why Sonko Rescue Team collapsed. The initiative responded to people’s immediate needs. It became hugely popular in slums and other low income urban dwellings. It turns out these are also the same places where the massive urban lower classes voters reside.
In other words, had Sonko Rescue Team survived; Sonko’s chances of being voted by the poor to replace Dr. Kidero would be higher than what it is now. The initiative was killed by the confluence of Kidero’s survival politics and Mt. Kenya renaissance politics in Nairobi. Strangest bedfellows.
Since 2015, Sonko has tried everything to re-invent himself; sometimes crossing the red lines of mature politics. He has shaved clean his once weird hairdo to appear as a chief executive and shed off the “street urchin” tag.
He has gone to the university and graduated within two years (though it doesn’t appear his mental constitution was improved by the humbling nuances of formal university education).
He has even tried, and failed miserably to hold an educated debate in a senate chamber infested with such fine heads like Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o and James Orengo; or the young firebrands Mutula Kilonzo Junior, Kipchumba Murkomen, Martha Wangari, Hassan Omar Hassan etc.
While peddling populism backed by small handouts of cash worked for Sonko in Makadara constituency, the mosaic of Nairobi, stratified along ethnic and political lines, with far higher numbers of urban poor than any county in Kenya, has been impractically impossible to assuage.
Matters are not made better for Sonko considering the lower poor class he panders to appears more divided now than in 2013, meaning the unanimous ‘vote of the poor’ that Sonko attracted in 2013 is already out of reach.
Again, while giving out money would have worked in one constituency, the kind of free money needed to massage the urban poor in all Nairobi constituencies cannot be dished out by Sonko, not unless he terrorizes Central Bank of Kenya to print it, or sell drugs and other contrabands in a global scale.
He will need to spend over millions daily to be ‘felt’ and seen as philanthropic.
Sonko won the 2013 vote fair and square and massively so. He had no opponent. CORD had made a mockery of its nomination process. By the time Margaret Wanjiru was installed, Sonko had already titled the scales.
But later this year, Sonko may be up for a shock of his life. Unsure of clinching the Jubilee ticket for the gubernatorial seat, Sonko may find himself fighting to retain his senate seat. So far, Jubilee has not started the process of application for this year’s general election. Up until then, Sonko remains a paper aspirant for the seat of Governor of Nairobi.