Nairobi lines up for Senator Gidion Mike Sonko’s millions
NAIROBI; KENYA: An office in one of Nairobi’s most recognisable buildings, Kenyatta International Conference Centre has almost become a village market.
Every Tuesday, distraught city residents from all walks of life start streaming in at the crack of dawn, taking up every available space including the elevators in a bid to see the Nairobi Senator.
The stream of visitors to Nairobi senator Gidion Mike Sonko’s office on the 25th floor of KICC on Tuesdays has sent shock waves among security agents. Police officers at the facility, which hosts local and international dignitaries, have already expressed concern.
“We are advising the Senator to get an alternative office at an open place because these people are a security threat here,” said one of the police officers.
He added, “The big number of people who come to see him inconvenience other dignitaries. We hope to find a solution soon.”
As early as 5.30 am, the security personnel at KICCbegin screening Sonko’s visitors before they are ushered in to use the elevators.
By 8am, the space meant for those who alight from elevators on the 24th floor is filled with people, as is the stair case leading to the 25th floor, making it impossible for other visitors to access the two floors.
On this day, distressed rent defaulters, patients, parents, orphaned and malnourished students in desperate need of school fees all congregate in this office.
They solemnly mingle with distressed rent defaulters, unemployed youth and heads of institutions who are fighting with land grabbers. But the hustle and bustle is worth the wait as many who have had an encounter with their senator attest. They are sure of getting something.
“I had a bill of Sh1.2 million and there was no way my poor husband was going to pay. If it were not for Sonko, I would still be at Pumwani Maternity Hospital,” said Angela Abisai who lives in Mathare slums.
Mercy Akinyi, a college student who lives in Jericho was once thrown out of her room for defaulting on paying rent.
Ready to help
“I asked a friend for Sonko’s number and sent him a short message about my plight. He called me and came over to clear my arrears and paid my rent for two years until I clear college,” Ms Akinyi said.
A distressed housewife also told of the senator’s magnanimity.
“My husband abandoned me with my three children. I have been struggling until the senator visited me. He gave me Sh50, 000 to start a business and paid for my supply of flour and kales at my neighbour’s kiosk for six months,” Terry Mbuthia from Kawangware said.
Nurhin Shah, a parent and Visa Oshwal Primary School thanked Sonko for securing the school.
“He came to our aid when the school was about to be taken over by private developers. He went to court and now the school is public,” Mr Shah said.
A resident of South B also had a strange encounter with the senator.
“I had gone to Mater Hospital at 11pm to take a sick relative. At around midnight I saw Sonko coming in with an elderly lady with a swollen leg,” he said.
He added, “I left the hospital past midnight but Sonko insisted that he would wait until all tests were done and results are released.”
Lawyers who handle his cases are also a happy lot. They say they reap handsomely when they take on his assignments. Sonko has been in court challenging the eviction of mechanics at Grogon and locals in Makadara and those living near the Southern bypass near Langata.
Yet when a jobless cousin approached Sonko to work as his campaign manager in the March 4 General Election, the senator was horrified.
He told off the cousin and dispatched him to his county in Ukambani armed him with campaign material and a fleet of cars. Now the cousin is a ward representative. A former employee in one of the senator’s buses was surprised when he reminded him of their relationship.
“I met him in Buruburu and reminded him that I used to work for him. He ordered his drivers to bring him his briefcase. He gave me the briefcase and told me to take the money and bring the briefcase back,” the man said.
He added, “When I got home I found Sh 5 million. I have to this day marveled at Sonko’s generosity.”
When the senator is asked where he gets all this money, he laughs off the question, explaining casually:
“I am a businessman with interests in the transport, hospitality and property development. I use the money I get from these businesses and my salary to serve my people.”
He added, “I have not taken my salary since my days as the Makadara MP. I use the money to solve the problems of my people. I give out money to women and youth to engage in business.”
He admits that the pressure of serving the whole ofNairobi is more as compared to the days he was an MP.
“Currently, I see an average of 1000 people on Tuesday. I come to the office at 6am and sometimes leave past midnight,” he said.
Future plans for city
He says that he just dishes out money, explaining that he investigates the claims made by those seeking before releasing money.
Sometimes, Sonko explained that he too gets strained, financially.-standardmedia.co.ke