Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi wants the national government to stop pointing fingers and focus on finding a solution to the terrorism in the North Eastern Region.
Governor Abdullahi was responding to Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki's remarks that locals were cohabiting with the al-Shabaab terror group to cause mayhem in the region.
The CS told a national assembly committee last week the local communities supported terror activities.
“CS Kindiki is an intellectual but his statement was quite unfortunate. He is doing what everyone else before him did to our region which is scapegoating as opposed to dealing with the problem,” the governor said.
He said the leadership of the counties worst affected by terror attacks were interested in a secure region and were investing in security despite the same being a national government function.
“We met here in Wajir of our own volition, we were not asked to meet by CS Interior and our meeting was not funded by anyone else…just to find a solution to this problem,” he said.
He added: “We came together to brainstorm on the best interventions. We met to sensitise our people. We met to structure our demands to the national government and we also discussed what can be done by ourselves to end this problem.”
According to the governor, many residents have lost their lives whenever the militants strike.
“In many places, locals have lost their lives fighting al-Shabaab including (as) National Police Reservists (NPR) and volunteers,” he said.
He attributed the ongoing terror attacks in the region bordering Somalia to their closeness to the war-ravaged neighbour.
“If there are terror activities in these border counties then it is purely by virtue of their proximity to the Somalia border and nothing else,” he said.
Increased terror activities
According to the Wajir County boss, the long and porous border is another contributor to increased terror activities in the region.
“Instead of blaming each other and appearing to be profiling the residents here, we should be working on how to coordinate and address the al-Shabaab menace,” he said.
Mr Abdullahi said dealing with the al-Qaeda-linked terror group requires hard security intervention.
“We need to carry out a lot of sensitisation, anti-radicalisation activities and offer more job opportunities for the youths and this is the debate we should be having,” he said.
Mr Abdullahi added that local youths have volunteered to fight the al-Shabaab just like locals in Somalia are currently doing.
“We have groups in all these peripheries that have volunteered to work with NPRs and these are the groups we are saying ought to have been supported because they go into places the security agencies cannot reach,” the governor said.
In Mandera, Governor Mohamed Adan Khalif said locals are playing a vital role in combating terror threats.
“Locals of Mandera are dying while protecting non-locals in this region and those saying we are colluding with the al-Shabaab are misinformed. We want those given responsibilities by the President to deliver them instead of making wild allegations from their offices.
His deputy, Ali Maalim, said al-Shabaab activities were affecting everybody in Mandera.
“Al-Shabaab is not only targeting non-local but everyone in Mandera county. We are all at risk and those saying the locals are supporting terrorism are spreading the wrong narrative. We are all affected and we need to join hands and push them back,” Dr Maalim said.