- Mike Sonko once served as a member of parliament
- Impeached as Nairobi Governor in a plan he claims was hatched by the president
- Flashy lifestyle and a big heart has endeared him to many
From impeachment to pending court cases, former Nairobi governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko’s political career took a drastic change, this halted by a supreme court ruling which upheld his impeachment, consequently scuttling his ambitions to become the second governor of Mombasa County. in his political career which spans over a decade, Sonko has been one of the most controversial figures in the Kenyan politics. From recording everyone he calls to insulting other leaders in public, here are incidents that rocked Mike Sonko’s controversial and dramatic political career.
Known for his glitzy lifestyle, flashy clothes and expensive jewelry, Gideon Mbuvi Kioko earned the nickname ‘Sonko’, which is Swahili slang for a wealthy person after publicly distributing cash to his supporters in Nairobi’s estates. Long before he entered politics and earned his nickname, he was imprisoned in the 1990s over a land fraud case. He managed to escape from jail by bribing his guards before he was caught and sent back to prison.
After being freed, he set up successful businesses including a vibrant matatu (minibus taxi) firm, a real estate company and a nightclub in Nairobi, and he now had the money and guts to venture into active politics.
At the age of 35, he became a member of parliament in 2010, rising to senator three years later before he was finally voted in as Nairobi’s governor in 2017. Sonko first joined elective politics in 2010 when he vied for the Makadara parliamentary seat following a by-election in the constituency and he successfully floored then incumbent Member of Parliament, Dan Wathika. Sonko would later rise up the political ladder to become Nairobi’s first Senator and second governor.
Impeachment And Dramatic Hand-Over Of Functions To NMS
Sonko’s term as a governor was characterized by upheavals occasioned by the push and pull between him and Members of the County Assembly (MCAs). Sonko was impeached in 2020 after the Senate ratified a motion by the MCAs to impeach him on grounds of gross misconduct and abuse of office.
His impeachment had been preceded by controversial stands including his refusal to appoint a deputy governor after the resignation of Polycarp Igathe. Sonko had also been involved in a spat with President Uhuru Kenyatta after he ceded key functions of the county government to the Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS). It is also believed that Sonko was a big threat to Cartels, some of whom had been supplying ghost products to the county government for millions.
Allegedly Named In A Drug Syndicate List
Not long after becoming a Member of Parliament, Sonko was named by the Internal Security Minister, the late George Saitoti, among suspected drug barons in the country. He was named alongside former Trade Assistant Minister, Harun Mwau, and then MPs Hassan Ali Joho (Kisauni) and William Kabogo (Juja).
The list sparked debate in the National Assembly with Sonko playing down the matter and arguing that the Minister had spared some of his close friends who were the real drug traffickers
Campaigning For Rival Candidate
In 2011, Sonko found himself embroiled in a tussle with Narc Kenya, the party that had sponsored him to Parliament after he campaigned for a Party of National Unity (PNU) candidate during the Kamukunji Parliamentary by-election of 2011. Sonko campaigned for Yusuf Hassan of PNU who went on to beat Narc Kenya’s Brian Weke.
This move saw him summoned by the party’s disciplinary committee and eventually expelled from the party. Sonko, in retaliation, stormed Narc Kenya’s offices complaining of undue procedure in expelling him and his compatriot William Kabogo.
Street Protests With Waititu
The former Nairobi governor formed a close relationship with the then Embakasi MP, Ferdinand Waititu, with whom he served in the 10th Parliament. Sonko and Waititu often opposed government measures that were targeted at the common man in Nairobi.
He branded himself the defender of hawkers and openly opposed their eviction in various places. This, in turn, earned him a cult-like following in Nairobi which eventually thrust him to the Nairobi county top seat. Sonko left tongues wagging when he showed up in Parliament donning earrings and sunglasses. The dress code attracted the attention of then session Speaker, Farah Maalim, who ordered him out of the Chamber for violating the prescribed dress code while in the August House. Efforts by Narc Kenya party leader, Martha Karua, who was then the Gichugu MP, to rescue him from being kicked out of the Chamber ended in futility as other members of Parliament agreed with the Speaker and condemned the Legislator.
The controversy-ridden politician also raised eyebrows in 2019 after he sensationally claimed that together with Waititu while in Parliament, they would sneak into the National Assembly’s washrooms and smoke marijuana. Sonko made the claims while appearing on the Jeff Koinange Live show.
SONKO RESCUE TEAM
Sonko runs an NGO-style outfit known as the Sonko Rescue Team which boasts a fleet of utility vehicles that come to the aid of people in emergency situations. This move was seen as a PR tactic to win numbers and indeed it endeared him to thousands of supporters.
Sonko also endeared himself to many when he adopted two orphaned brothers from likoni, who were victims of regional violence. Sonko has also cleared school fees and medical bills for many who were in dire need including new mothers in maternity wards. He currently runs a popular night spot in Shanzu, VIP VOLUME CLUB, where he often hosts celebrities from all over East Africa. His club somehow has a Versace theme reminiscent of the late Zimbabwe businessman, Ginimbi, who also ran a similarly themed club and also lived a flamboyant life.
Sonko’s life might be riddled with controversy but it is clear that he has numbers on his side and he is greatly feared by his political opponents. It is said that as a leader, Sonko has done more good than harm compared to many other leaders.
*Part of article contributed by Sam Idewa