Sometime in 2016 in Banisa town, Mandera County, Garre clan elders at a meeting mooted the idea of negotiated democracy.
Under the plan, it was agreed that no politician would hold office for two consecutive terms.
The seats were to be rotated among the 21 sub-clans that form the larger Garre clan.
But in the run-up to the 2017 General Election, incumbent Governor Ali Roba disagreed with that arrangement and went against the council of elders’ plan that he shelve his plans to seek a second term so that they could support another candidate.
The governor retained his seat and his supporters took the Senate and several ward seats. He garnered 71,890 votes against the Garre council of elders’ choice, Hassan Noor Hassan, who managed 62,769.
Mr Roba’s defiance led to a rift in the community but a year later, a meeting was called in Takaba that the who’s who in the Garre clan attended.
Mr Hassan petitioned Mr Roba’s re-election but withdrew the case under unclear circumstances. He was later appointed Sports chief administrative secretary (CAS) before being moved to the Education ministry in a similar position.
During an event at Kiliweheri last year, Mr Hassan announced he will seek the governorship in 2022.
True to his word, the Nation has learnt that he has presented his application to the national committee of the Asare sub-clan, joining a long list of candidates seeking to succeed Governor Roba, who is serving his second and final term in office.
Committee chairman Abdullahi Haji Abdi confirmed receiving four applications for consideration by clan elders.
“We have so far received four applications and that is subject to vetting and scrutiny by the sub-clan elders before we present one name to the Garre Council of Elders,” he said.
Once the four are vetted by the sub-clan, the lucky candidate will battle it out with another candidate from the Furkesha sub-clan.
The Garre clan is divided into two major sub-clans - Tuuf and Quranyow - and while Tuuf has the Ali and Adola families, the Quranyow has the Asare and Furkesha families.
A total of 21 families form the Garre clan.
The Tuuf are not presenting a candidate for the top county seat as one of their own, Governor Roba, has been in office for two terms.
The responsibility of choosing the next governor is now with the Quranyow, and the Asare and the Furkesha are in the process of picking their preferred candidate.
The Asare sub-clan’s candidates include CAS Hassan, Mohamed Adan Khalif, Mandera County Assembly Speaker Mohamed Adan Khalif, businessman Edin Haji Issack, and banker Ali Ahmed Issack.
In the Furkesha sub-clan primaries, Mandera County Senator Mohamud Maalim Mohamed is seeking an endorsement against Feisal Abdirahman and Yusuf Mohamed Issack, alias Yusuf Rafiki.
After the sub-clan primaries, respective clan elders will present their best candidate at the main delegates’ conference to be held by the end of October.
“We always have the process so that we get the best candidate for the position and this is done to confirm that that particular candidate has all the qualifications as required by the electoral laws and the Constitution,” Mr Abdi explained.
The requirements for gubernatorial candidates include a cover letter, a curriculum vitae and Sh1 million in cash.
“The money is to help in the process of vetting and scrutinising all these applicants and nothing else,” Mr Abdi said.
The Garre Council of Elders delegates meeting in October will decide the fate of the Asare and the Furkesha candidate and the best will be the council’s choice.
“We had Mr Hassan in the last elections and he lost but despite that, we have him again and if he impresses the vetting committee then he will be presented to the people again,” Mr Abdi said.
The gubernatorial seat in Mandera remains a Garre clan affair as different sub-clans battle it out.
The Garre are the majority in the county that is home to four other clans including the Degodia, Murule, Marahan and the "corner tribes".
Due to clan patterns in Mandera, the dominant clan will always produce the governor, the senator and the woman rep.
“The last elections caused a rift within the clan because politics come with a lot of challenges and interests but what happened then is behind us. We held a reconciliation meeting in 2018 and we are now united,” said Maalim Ali Noor, the Garre Council of Elders chairman.
Even as elders continued vetting candidates, Governor Roba, who is leaving office at the end of his second term, remains silent on his candidate of choice.
“Governor Roba will still influence elections considering that he is experienced after what happened in 2017 and he is also resourceful. He will want someone he can easily influence. Someone who will pledge to protect him once he is out of office,” said Adan Ali, a resident of Mandera.
Issack Alio, a local political analyst, warned that the council of elders should not sit back and relax after picking a candidate.
“Any candidate who will be dissatisfied with the council of elders’ process will attempt what Governor Roba did in 2017 and with resources, the elders will be floored again. This will be an end to negotiated democracy,” he said.
For now, only Shakir Haji Dayow, 32, has declared his candidacy without seeking the elders’ endorsement.
“There will be more candidates going for the top seat once the council of elders announce their candidate of choice. It will be left to the people to decide again,” Mr Issack said.