Fireworks at Nairobi governor big TV debate

Nairobi governorship candidates (from top left) Evans Kidero, Mike Sonko, Peter Kenneth and Miguna Miguna

Key Nairobi governorship candidates Monday engaged in a heated debate dominated by name calling and accusations of incompetence, corruption and poor managerial skills.

Governor Evans Kidero engaged three other candidates angling for the seat — Miguna Miguna, Mike Sonko and Peter Kenneth — in the exchanges in a battle to win the hearts of Nairobi residents and the right to control billions of shillings in taxes and remissions from the National Government.

The candidates exchanged barbs on health, corruption, taxation, infrastructure and their qualifications to run a modern city.

Issues of unemployment, garbage collection, hawking and affordable housing also took centre stage during the debate held at Daystar University, but which will be remembered more for the propensity of the candidates to cut down others to size and pour disdain on their character.

Governor Kidero, keen to preserve his seat said he deserves another term because “I’m reliable and dependable”, even as he struggled to parry off accusations of running down the city during his four-year tenure.

“I have laid a foundation for a takeoff. When I came to Cty Hall, I found mismanagement and lack of structures. That has now been sorted out,” said Mr Kidero.

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Defended past record

Mr Sonko said he would reduce taxes on small businessmen, even as he defended his past record as Nairobi Senator.

“When Kidero took over, he increased taxes on everything. My government will abolish taxes on hawkers and mama mboga,” said Mr Sonko.

Miguna tore into his opponents labeling them ‘corrupt’ and claimed that they cannot be trusted with billions of shillings paid as taxes by Nairobi residents.

The former adviser to Opposition principal and presidential candidate Raila Odinga lit up the debate with choice phrases against his opponents, arguing that only he has the integrity and experience to manage the city.

“The three gentlemen have no managerial skills. All they know is how to steal. The best managerial ability is to start a company and manage it. I have run a law company… these three gentlemen have no ideology, they have no vision or ideology. We are looking for a leader, not a manager,” Miguna said.

He pointed out that Kidero mismanaged Mumias Sugar Company when he served as managing director.

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But in his defence, Kidero said he has never “been handcuffed,” before hitting at Mr Sonko whom he said was encouraging criminal gangs in the city through his Sonko Rescue Team.

“I have never been handcuffed, never been taken to prison…one of the main problems in this city is people running criminal gangs,” he said.

Kenneth said he has a clean public record beginning from his tenure at the helm of Kenya Re-Insurance Company.

“I’m proud of the institutions I run. They are there for public record. I was elected with an overwhelming majority in 2007 in Gatanga Constituency because of what I did. Kenya-Re, which I left 10 year ago has done very well in the last 10 years,” said Mr Kenneth, who is running as an independent candidate.

The debate, despite tackling some of the major challenges facing the city, was a study in name calling as the candidates fought to discredit each other.

Miguna threatened to table evidence that Kenneth sold Kenya Re-Insurance to ‘Zimbabwe’s Monarch’ when it was worth over Sh2 billion.

He claimed Kenneth was a “serial con” who had used his position to fleece investors of money when he served at the company.

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Deserve another chance

Miguna went ahead to call Kenneth “a total failure.”

But Kenneth fired back and told Miguna that “sometimes being a loudmouth is not a solution to our problems”.

Sonko, in response to Miguna’s claims that he had spent time at Shimo la Tewa Prison on criminal charges, quipped: “There is ‘something wrong with Miguna’s head.” He also denied claims that he is a drug dealer.

Kidero said he deserves another chance because “the auditor writes his reports before getting the management reports.”

Miguna was hard-pressed to shield himself from allegations of molesting women when he served as a barrister in Toronto, Canada.

“I’m in good standing with the Law Society of Kenya and have never been in problems,” he replied when Kenneth made the claims.

The four candidates are battling for at least two million votes in the city.

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