Voters unhappy as Mandera governor aspirants campaign in Nairobi
The race to succeed Governor Ali Roba in Mandera has boiled down to four aspirants, who have been accused by residents of abandoning the county and concentrating their campaigns in Nairobi.
“It is very unfortunate that we have leaders who don’t care about the common people but their own interests. If truly these people were concerned about our livelihood then they should be on the ground meeting the voter,” Mr Ali Gabow, a resident said.
Mr Gabow could not remember the last time he set his eyes on those seeking the county’s top seat.
Mr Hassan Noor Hassan, the ODM candidate, was last in Mandera on May 16.
Former Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed returned to Mandera on May 18 and remained holed up in a hotel where he conducted meetings with different clan representatives. He then held a political rally over the weekend at Moi Stadium where he pledged to fight graft if elected.
“I am leading a team of professionals that is keen on changing how things will be conducted in Mandera. Team Change shall start by closing loopholes in the county administration that have led to the loss of millions of shillings,” he said.
Last in Mandera in January
Mr Mohamed Adan Khalif, the current Mandera County Assembly Speaker and the United Democratic Movement (UDM) candidate was last in the county in January. He presided over the passage of the controversial Mandera Urban Development Plan by the county assembly. Mr Khalif enjoys Mr Roba’s support.
His team, composed of the incumbent MPs from Mandera and headed by Mr Roba, held a rally at Moyale in Marsabit County before crossing into Ethiopia to seek blessings from the Supreme Garre clan leader Sultan Mohamed Hajai Gababa.
Clan leaders play a vital role in the election of leaders in Mandera. The UDM camp has the support of Mr Ali Noor Ibahim Sheikh (Garre council of elders’ chairman) and Sultan Mohamed Khalif, the Murule clan supreme leader.
The clan factor is another card that every gubernatorial candidate is carefully considering.
With all gubernatorial candidates coming from the Garre clan, which is the largest, choice of a running mate and distribution of job opportunities will determine the winner.
The Garre clan has about 79,000 registered voters, Degodia has 52,000, Murule 45,000 while the Corner tribes have approximately 35, 000.
Both Mr Khalif and Mr Mohamed have picked their running mates from the Degodia clan, the second largest. Mr Khalif has Mr Ali Maalim Mohamed while Mr Mohamed has Mr Abbey Dahir Arap.
The Degodia clan is divided into two sub-clans: Mohamed Jibrail (the majority) and Mohamud Jibrail. The former CS has been courting the Mohamed Jibril sub-clan by pledging to support their Mandera North parliamentary candidate Mohamed Bardard while Mr Khalif has the current MP Major Bashir Abdullahi in his camp.
Also Read: Mandera leaders call for peaceful campaigns
On Monday, the Degodia Council of Elders led by their chairman, Ugas Adow Harun, endorsed the former CS.
“We are endorsing Mr Adan Mohamed because the current regime seeking to be elected has done a lot of injustice to our community. We have lost community land to individual county officials but we believe our candidate of choice will correct these,” Mr Harun said.
After Senator Mohamed Maalim and Mr Faisal Abdirahman lost the Jubilee ticket to Mr Mohamed, the two threw their weight behind Mr Hassan of ODM. Their entry forced Mr Hassan to drop his running mate in favour of Mr Maalim’s running mate Mohamed Hussein Ali alias Mohamed Qaras.
Mr Ali Noor Aden of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) has Mr Hussein Hassan Sheikh from the Corner tribes as his running mate.
“Our team is about ethnic balance and equitable sharing of county resources. We want to ensure all clans and residents of Mandera coexist peacefully and enjoy the fruits of devolution,” Mr Aden said.
Under the negotiated democracy plan, the Quranyow sub-clan of the Garre clan is supposed to be in the race alone, but the Tuuf have fronted two candidates.
The Quranyow have Mr Khalif and Mr Hassan while the Tuuf have Mr Aden.
“I do not know some of these people who want to be our next governor. My son has been showing me some videos and pictures of them on his mobile phone,” Ms Halima Aden said.
In Nairobi, the politicians are holding meetings daily and posting pictures and videos on their social media platforms for the voters back home.
“We are in Nairobi because this is where a majority of our opinion leaders stay. Our people in Nairobi influence what happens on the ground and that is why we have to build our strength from here first,” a politician in one of the four camps said, requesting not to be named for political reasons.
As the politicians stay away from the county, residents say their hope of getting a good leader are fading.
“If they are staying in Nairobi before assuming office, what will happen once we elect one of them? It means seeing our governor shall force me to travel to Nairobi,” Mr Abdi Gessey said.
Ahmed Hassan, a taxi driver, said he wants a governor who will ensure devolution resources are well distributed in Mandera.
“We are divided along clans and tribes and the next governor must be able to unite all these clans and the only way is by equally distributing resources,” he said. He cited job opportunities for the youths and distribution of senior county government positions as another challenge the next governor will face.
“He has to ensure every clan has at least a minister, a chief officer and a director for him to run the county affairs smoothly,” he said.
“I will wait until I hear from all of these politicians before I make my final decision. I will not accept to have my fate decided by someone else,” Mr Hassan Aliow said.
Ms Halima Bashir urged Mandera politicians to return home and decide the county’s fate together with the voters.
“We need to sit down with our political leaders and decide our own fate. Those people in Nairobi are not even registered voters in Mandera but brokers interested in contracts from the county government and CDF,” she said.