Influential first term MCA, Abass Ibrahim Khalif has stamped authority at Orange House and the Nairobi county assembly.
By Adieri Mulaa
Azimio Coalition leaders are on the drawing board regarding leadership positions in the Nairobi county assembly where it is majority party.
An intricate contention is brewing among Azimio MCAs over the position of majority leader in the 123 Member county legislature.
The boiling situation negates an earlier political deal that was sealed by Azimio Coalition leader Raila Odinga over leadership positions in the assembly.
It has now sucked in other Azimio Coalition luminaries, Martha Karua of Narc Kenya and Wiper Democratic Movement party leader, Kalonzo Musyoka for concerted effort to resolve the impasse.
But a question begs whether Odinga will renege on a Coalition power sharing deal he had already sealed regarding the positions prior to the Speaker’s election?
In the deal, the names of former deputy speaker Ken Ng’ondi (ODM) and Mihang’o Ward MCA Kados Kiguathi (Jubilee) were forwarded to the Clerk of the County Assembly as the Coalition’s nominees for the positions of Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively.
The duo have since been duly elected to those positions. In the arrangement, Azimio also designated Kariobangi South Ward MCA Robert Mbatia (Jubilee) to chair the Finance, Budget and Appropriation Committee.
The position of majority leader was reserved for ODM and slated for Western region. The position was designated for Imwatok by consensus among MCAs from the region.
Former Gatina Ward MCA Mike Obonyo Konyuka (ODM), who was instrumental in Speaker Ken Ng’ondi’s campaign strategy was designated for the position of director in the office of the Speaker.
So far, both Azimio and Kenya Kwanza alliance are yet to forward to the Speaker the names of their nominees for party leadership positions in the assembly.
On Thursday October 6, 2022, Odinga hosted a luncheon for Azimio MCAs at Kempinski Hotel in Westlands to diffuse simmering disagreements over leadership positions in the House.
Together with his Coalition partners Karua and Musyoka, the trio held closed door discussions with the county legislators in which the media was not invited.
As it stands, Azimio MCAs are divided between the influential South C Ward MCA, Abass Ibrahim Khalif and the charismatic second term Makongeni Ward MCA, Jateso Peter Imwatok, over who should be nominated for the position of majority leader.
Sources say the discussions revolved around the need for cohesion among the MCAs and focus on service delivery to the residents of Nairobi as they settle down to business.
On his Facebook page, Odinga wrote: “We spent part of the afternoon with Team Nairobi as part of our ongoing consultative sessions with various aligned groups. Service delivery and oversight by devolved units remain a corner stone of our agenda to the people of Kenya”.
Among those in attendance were Speaker Ng’ondi and Deputy Speaker Kiguathi and former Westlands MP and Cabinet Minister, Fred Gumo.
Emerging developments indicate how Abass, a first time MCA elected on the ODM ticket has quickly learned the ropes. He seems to be calling shots at the Orange party headquarters and the county assembly in equal measure.
The flamboyant MCA clearly appears to have stamped his authority as a force to reckon with in the ODM party hierarchy and the assembly.
At the county assembly, Abass has whipped a number of Azimio MCAs who are backing him in his quest for the position of majority leader, which however, is not elective.
It is apparent the numbers are aimed at compelling Azimio and ODM in particular, which has majority MCAs in the House to nominate him for the position of majority leader.
But his adversary Imwatok, the fiery second term Makongeni Ward MCA says the Orange party will have the ultimate decision on who becomes the Leader of Majority in the House.
The House Standing Orders stipulate that the largest party or coalition of parties in the County Assembly shall designate an MCA belonging to the party or coalition to be the Leader of Majority Party in the House.
The same provision applies for the positions of Deputy Leader of Majority, Majority Whip and Deputy Majority Whip.
But this provision notwithstanding, Abass has sustained his tempo in a well oiled lobbying strategy among MCAs since he was elected in the August 9 general election.
A near fallout among Azimio MCAs on Thursday September 29, 2022 when Speaker Ng’ondi announced names of five Members said to have been nominated to various party leadership positions in the county legislature is testament of his influence.
It remains to be seen whether Azimio leader will give in to his quest for the position of majority leader in the House.
But to contain disillusioned Members of the Coalition, Speaker Ng’ondi had to revoke names of the five nominees which were brought to the House before it was properly constituted.
Several MCAs had expressed their disappointment in the manner the matter was communicated, contravening procedure under the House Standing Orders.
Strong complaints by Azimio Members caused the Speaker to rescind his communication on Friday September 30, 2022 through a memo, saying it was incorrect and without basis in law.
He also revoked a contentious letter written by ODM Secretary General, Senator Edwin Sifuna on September 5, forwarding names of nominees for the party leadership positions in the House.
Impeccable sources told The Times the ODM party had since written to the Speaker retracting the initial letter which forwarded a list of nominees.
So far, there is no clear report on what Azimio leaders told the Coalition MCAs at the Kempinski meeting regarding the position of majority leader.
A number of MCAs have given varying accounts of whatever was agreed during the luncheon hosted by the Azimio leader. But they could not divulge details of the discussions
Kitisuru MCA Alvin Olando Palapala claimed Mr Odinga had intimated the party would consider experience while picking its nominees to the leadership positions in the House.
Palapala explained that Odinga explored the Coalition’s desire for leadership that would effectively articulate the party ideals and good stewardship in the county legislature on matters that positively impact the city residents.
Mr Clarence Munga of Kabiro Ward said they agreed the party would forward names of the nominees to the Speaker to make a formal communication to the House as required.
Isiolo governor Abdi Ibrahim Guyo, a close ally of Abass has also been remotely linked to the brewing contention over the seat of majority leader.
Governor Guyo is said to be working behind the scenes for Abass to secure Azimio nomination for the position of majority leader to succeed him.
Guyo was the Leader of Majority in the Second Assembly in Nairobi before being elected governor of Isiolo in the August 9 general election.