UDA makes inroads into Mandera

Ali Noor Aden

Mr Ali Noor Aden, UDA gubernatorial candidate in Mandera on May 10, 2022.

Photo credit: Manaseh Otsialo | Nation Media Group

Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) has announced its plans to ensure it captures most of the seats in Mandera against a wave of different political parties sweeping through the county.

In an interview with Nation.Africa,  Mr Ali Noor Aden, who is in the race for governor on a UDA ticket, said the party is recruiting 300 agents from every constituency to spread its political gospel.

“We have a plan that will see our party and Kenya Kwanza coalition win more political seats in Mandera despite the presence of other political parties,” Mr Aden said.

According to Mr Aden, every agent will be tasked with ensuring that the party gets at least 3,000 votes at the ward level.

“We are done with mapping our supporters in the county and the only remaining thing now is hitting the ground,” he said.

The Deputy President is expected in Mandera this month to officially launch the party’s campaign.

Mr Aden, a businessman, has been in the political sphere since 2007 but worked behind the scenes.

He says he chose to go for the Mandera gubernatorial seat after he realised that there is a political vacuum in the far-flung county.

“We have always cried that Northern Kenya is marginalised but devolution has been with us and yet we fail to properly use the resources in our counties,” he said.

According to Mr Aden, marginalisation has been localised since a few individuals enjoy the resources in Mandera.

“The national government has pumped a lot of resources into Mandera but only a few individuals are gobbling up all those resources meant to change lives in Mandera. I want to change that by giving the opportunity to every person to enjoy the fruits of devolution,” he said.

He said through his own assessment of the situation in Mandera, devolution is yet to get to the grassroots.

UDA drawing a majority of its candidates from the current MCAs will have to face off with Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Jubilee Party and United Democratic Movement (UDM) in the gubernatorial race.

UDA is the only party fronting a female candidate for a parliamentary seat in Mandera County.

Ms Amram Wardere is contesting for the Lafey Parliamentary seat.

He said DP Ruto stands a better chance of getting more votes from Mandera considering his stand on devolution and his understanding of the pastoral lifestyle.

“Our presidential candidate understands what nomadic life is because he is one of us and his pledge to support and strengthen devolution has excited our supporters,” he said.

Mr Aden took issue with the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Presidential candidate's stand on resource sharing for the counties.

“Mr Raila Odinga is a threat to the existence of some counties including Mandera considering his plan to reduce funds we are getting from the national government. We are only keen on supporting someone interested in uplifting our lifestyle and one who will suppress us,” he said.

Despite the negotiated democracy plan that is largely practiced in Mandera, Mr Aden says clan elders no longer play a role in politics after they were humiliated in 2017 elections.

Mandera Governor Ali Roba defied the council of elders’ decree barring him to seek a re-election in 2017 and this marked the end of elders’ engaging in politics.

Mr Roba won his second term despite the council of elders supporting his rival then.

As he leaves office, Mr Roba has fronted Mr Mohamed Adan Khalif as his successor on the UDM ticket in the August elections.

Mr Khalif is the current Mandera County Assembly speaker.

Mr Aden feels it was not right for Governor Roba to pick his successor.

“It is not going to be easy for Mr Khalif in this race because he will be associated with mismanagement of the current governor,” he said.

He warned that Governor Roba’s footprints will still be seen in Mr Khalif’s leadership if he is elected the next governor.

Mr Aden says he will seal all corruption loopholes if he is elected the second Mandera County governor.

“There is too much corruption in Mandera. People are getting contracts through dubious means and investing elsewhere but I have to change that,” he said.

He said all major contracts and tenders will be given to local residents to allow circulation of cash in the county.

His second priority will be provision of clean and sufficient water to most areas affected with water stress in the county.

“I will personally be leading water intervention and supply plans to areas largely affected with water shortage in Mandera,” he said.

To fight the insecurity, Mr Aden said he will ensure youths have atleast formal training in technical skills.

“We are not going to have idle youths in Mandera. We shall have all of them in the Technical institution to be equipped with life skills,” he said.

After the training all the youths will be assisted in groups to start income generating activities.

“We shall have mechanics assisted to start garages, tailors supported to start their businesses, masons, electricians and many others will be supported to kick start something useful in their lives,” he said.

Women will enjoy Sh50 million kitty every financial year in Mr Aden’s administration to boost their businesses.

“I am very keen on sponsoring women doing small businesses because our party policy is to support the women under our bottom up economy,” he said.

Despite UDA fronting a gubernatorial candidate in Mandera late, Mr Aden expresses confidence in winning the seat.

“UDA is a party that was started just the other day but has a membership of more than ten million. The Jubilee Party that has been there longer is a shell as we speak. We are going to catch up and make an impact in Mandera,” he said.

The party has Mr Ali Noor Aden for the gubernatorial seat as Mr Hassan Issack Hache will go for senate seat.

Current Mandera woman representative Amina Gedow will be defending her seat on the UDA ticket.

“We are not in UDA because of money associated with the party leader but we are in this party because it is a unifying factor for Kenyans. It is only the Kenya Kwanza coalition that is concerned about the future of this country and the common mwananchi,” he said.

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