Governor Godhana: Friends abandoned me in my hour of need

Tana River County Governor Dhadho Godhana

Tana River County Governor Dhadho Godhana during a past press briefing. The county boss has been put on the spot by senators over questionable expenditure of over Sh3 billion in the county.

Photo credit: Stephen Odour I Nation

The adage goes that politics is a dirty game, but for Tana River Governor Dhadho Godhana, it is the moment he got to know his true friends.

For four years, Governor Godhana endured harsh criticism and internal wrangles with the county assembly and his deputy, but never did it occur to him that some of his friends would abandon him at his time of need. 

In an interview with Nation.Africa, the governor recounted how some of the people he hired in his administration when he was first elected in 2017 abandoned him for his opponents thinking he was destined to lose the seat in 2022.

"Some of them backed my opponents. That was at the time I needed them most, the time I thought I could bank on their support," he said.

The 2022 campaigns, he said, were the most difficult he had ever waged.

Nothing seemed to work as all odds appeared to be stacked against him and the wind seemed to blow towards his opponents.

"I was equally worried even though I knew I had a good plan to win another term. All I needed was a loyal team, committed to the course," he said.

His first term was difficult as it was characterised by wrangles.

The governor recounted how he fell out with his then deputy governor, a political relationship that compromised a fraction of his support base and made a ripe narrative that would be used against him throughout the campaign period.

"It was an administration at war from every end, internal wrangles, with the county assembly, dissatisfied residents and also with the media, it was a tough time,” he recounted.

The summons by the Senate made matters worse and every time he thought he had overcome the tide of one problem, another showed up.

One incident he never imagined he could shake off easily from the minds of residents was the graft allegations brought by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

He was forming his campaign machinery when the investigation was announced on TV, running for two consecutive days on prime news and evoking a cocktail of emotions among residents.

"It was one jab after the other, and that might have made some of my own lose hope in me and decided to go their separate ways,” he noted.

Residents, on the other hand, were heartbroken and took the war to him, gloves off. They tore him apart on social media and in social joints. There was no relief as the attacks gained momentum day after day. 

Nevertheless, the county chief noted that he restructured his campaign team and he decided to focus on village-to-village campaigns.

"I had to meet the people and tell my side of the story, they had heard a lot of misinformation and nothing from me, so I organised meetings with elders, sat with the people in all our support bases and I shared my story and sold my track record that they were not seeing,” he said.

It was a vigorous campaign that would take them into nights and sometimes they would sleep in different villages.

But while they went from one village to another, more than eight opponents from his community were countering his footprints, discrediting his story.

"It was a hard time for us, but we went back to the same strongholds and reaffirmed our story, and eventually we gained the support," he noted.

The last three months of the campaign, he said, were the most vibrant he had ever engaged in.

He ensured his team moved as a pack to deliver the win.

As for those who dropped out of his team, he watched as they funded his opponents and campaigned against him.

Governor Godhana was declared winner of the governor’s race, beating his predecessor, Hussein Dado.

But the fight is not over, as Mr Dado has lodged a petition challenging Mr Godhana's win at the Garsen High Court.

"We are at a new dawn regardless of the challenges we still face. We have a win to defend in court because it was a slim one, but that does not stop our train from moving," he said.

The county chief hopes that this time, there will be no fights as he has learnt from the past. He assured residents that the best is yet to come as he begins his second term.