Embakasi East Member of Parliament Babu Owino has come to the defense of embattled Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, who a section of city dwellers accuse of underperformance in the five months he has been in office.
Speaking to eDaily on phone Thursday, Mr Owino said Governor Sonko shouldn’t be subjected to “harsh judgement”, given he’s been in office “for only five months of his 5-year term”.
Mr Owino on Tuesday, January 16 urged his over 282, 000 followers on Facebook to “give Sonko time to deliver” because “leaders are chosen by God.”
His statement caught his followers by surprise, given many thought he and Mr Sonko do not see eye to eye.
“I have come to Governor Sonko’s defense because very many people are putting pressure on him to perform, though he has not been in office for long. He was elected to serve a 5-year term, not a one-year-term. He’s been in office for only five months. So, you shouldn’t subject him to harsh judgement after only five months in office as governor,” said Mr Owino.
“People should judge Sonko’s performance at the end of his 5-year term. I find it unfair that the electorate piles premature pressure on leaders chosen to serve a full term,” he added.
Many online users argued that Mr Sonko had pledged to fulfill certain provisions in his manifesto within the first 100 days, though, they said, many of the promises are yet to be realized – and are now seeking an explanation from the governor detailing why he’s failed to deliver.
Terming Mr Sonko’s first-100-days pledges as “political statements”, the Embakasi East legislator said Governor Sonko needs more time to serve city dwellers, and 100 days shouldn’t be used as the yardstick of measuring his success at the helm of the City Hall.
“Yes, the governor could have made promises to the electorate, saying he would accomplish them within his first 100 days in office. But, I would like to say those were promises made to appeal to the electorate. They are what I call political promises. Even voters are not foolish; they know that some promises are made for their psychological happiness. Though, they’d want you to make the promises anyway,” said Mr Owino.
“So, a leader should not be subjected to judgement based on how he or she performs within his or her first 100 days in office. What if he or she performs exemplary well within his or her first 100 days in office, then flops terribly thereafter?” he posed.
In the run-up to the August 8, 2017 general election, Mr Sonko gave a seven-point plan, which was the priority of his agenda in the first 100 days in office. His pledges were centered on housing and settlement, education and health, environment, traffic management and transport, jobs and social inclusion. Many of these had not been achieved when Mr Sonko turned 100 days old at the City Hall.
Mr Sonko, a Jubilee Party diehard, and Mr Owino, a NASA coalition rooter, have, several times in public, maligned each other, with either of the two hurling unprintable toward the other. No one, at least in the political space, expected Mr Owino, a perceived foe, to be the man who would vehemently defend Mr Sonko against public criticism.
“I have no problem with Mr Sonko. I have no reason to start fighting him. I wish him all the very best in running the city,” said Mr Owino.
“Service to the people is not dependent on which political party a leader is aligned to. I choose to defend him because he is the governor of Nairobi County, which is inhabited by NASA and Jubilee supporters, among followers of other political formations,” added Mr Owino.