Why Sakaja Cannot Afford to Fail as Nairobi Governor

October 13, 2022

By Githae Mwangi

The Nairobi gubernatorial election attracted the best of both worlds: a young career politician in Sakaja and a young business leader from the corporate world in Igathe.

What was exciting about this contest was not the coalitions they represented, but the ideas they were bringing to the table.

From funding infrastructure through the stock market to involving home ownership associations in the daily running of the county.

The two carried the aspirations of all the young voters in the country who wanted change in the way we do things: from implementing old conservative ideas to coming up with modern innovative solutions to address existing problems.

Fast forward and today Jonson Sakaja is the governor of Nairobi.

Like a few months ago, he continues to inspire a better future that will be created and led by young people, who are perceived to be more energetic, innovative, and knowledgeable.

Therefore, Sakaja cannot afford to fail as governor because if he does, he will discourage voters from electing young people in future, propel the idea that Nairobi should be governed by the central government, and dim the hope of an advanced and innovative Kenya.

If Sakaja fails as governor, people will be reluctant to elect young people to fill top leadership positions, including in the gubernatorial and presidential elections.

In the past, the country has been managed by older people, such as the late Michuki, Saitoti, and Nkaisery.

However, the Kenyan voter has lately gravitated towards younger leaders, including the 37 year old Sakaja; John Paul, who was first elected to parliament in 2017 aged 23; and Linet Toto, the latest sensation who won the women rep seat in Bomet aged 25.

These leaders show that the Kenyan voter gaining confidence in young people, most likely because their ideas, energy, and awareness of the problems facing voters daily.

If these young people fail, especially Sakaja, who holds the highest office among young elected politicians, voters may be discouraged to elect young adults and revert to chosing older ones.

They will most likely accuse them of lacking leadership experience, which truly they lack, and go back to considering older leaders only. On this ground alone, Sakaja cannot afford to fail as governor.

Moreover, it will propel the narrative that Nairobi should be governed by the central government.

When Sonko was elected governor in 2017, he failed so badly and publicly that the then president had to form the Nairobi Metropolitan Services and assign them all the major functions of the county government, including health, finance, development functions.

To their credit, NMS performed exceptionally well, especially in infrastructural development, building hospitals, and drilling boreholes.

Although there were those opposed to the new government extending NMS’ contract past 2022, an equal faction supported it. NMS transferred all its functions back to the Nairobi county government earlier this month as promised.

However, there is a likelihood that talks of reverting the county to the national government will again momentum again if Sakaja is to fail as governor.

Therefore, he should do his best to deliver the promises he made to Nairobians.

Finally, a Sakaja failure will dim the hope people have of a more advanced and innovative Kenya.

Kenyans have been calling for a more advanced public transport system for years but it has never materialized.

For instance, the BRT system started by the previous administrations has since grinded to a painful halt, and calls for a speed rail with an elaborate train station in the middle of the city have also gone unaddressed.

There are those who believe the leaders who have managed the county before were not innovative enough to entertain such an idea.

Therefore, they elected the young governor hoping he was exposed enough to understand it could be done and he had the ideas and manpower to implement it.

Therefore, if Sakaja fails to deliver, they may lose hope in such a future and slide back to persevering the status quo.

In conclusion, Sakaja cannot afford to fail as governor because he carries the hopes and ambitions of young Kenyans.

They hope that he will bring more modern and innovative ideas to solve existing problems and he has the energy to implement those ideas for a better tomorrow.

If he does not deliver, he will discourage older voters from electing younger leaders, fuel the proposal that Nairobi should be governed by the national government, and dim the hope of an advanced and more innovative future.

Therefore, he should strive and be bold enough to deliver on the promised he made to Nairobians during the hotly contested gubernatorial campaign.

Githae Mwangi is a political and current affairs commentator

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