Full in-tray for Maalim as he takes over from Natembeya

Mohamed Ahmed Maalim

New Rift Valley Regional Coordinator Mr. Mohamed Ahmed Maalim. 

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

A full in-tray of security challenges in the Rift Valley region awaits newly appointed Regional Commissioner Mohamed Maalim as he takes over from George Natembeya this week.

Mr Natembeya resigned last Wednesday to vie for the Trans Nzoia governor’s seat in the August 9 General Election.

He became the first high-ranking official in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration to resign ahead of the February 9 deadline for public servants eyeing political seats.

Mr Maalim now has his work cut out for him in a vast region that borders Tanzania in the South and Uganda and South Sudan in the north.

The former Makueni County commissioner is well aware of the task ahead of him, as he takes over a bigger administrative role in a region known for cattle rustling, negative ethnicity, high-octane politics and encroachment on forests and key water catchment areas.

"Natembeya will hand over the office to me this week in a brief ceremony that will be held at the Rift Valley headquarters in Nakuru city and I am ready for the job," Mr Maalim told the Nation yesterday.

Top on the list of his tasks is ensuring peaceful election campaigns in the 14 counties of the region.

His elevation has met mixed reactions from leaders, locals and security experts.

"Maalim might be an experienced administrator, who has addressed major security issues, but he is now walking into the largest region in Kenya with a myriad of challenges,” said John Ombati, a security expert.

"He will have to wear the large shoes of George Natembeya and roll up his sleeves to face the perennial cattle rustling and banditry in the region as well as other security issues as the country gears towards the August 9 General Election,” he added.

Mr Maalim will have to adjust himself to fit in the large shoes left behind by Mr Natembeya, said Mr Jesse Karanja, a resident of Nakuru.

"The region is expansive, from Turkana to Namanga. The new regional commissioner must adjust and be ready to tackle the myriad of security challenges.

“Most importantly, he will have to maintain teamwork among the 14 county commissioners in the region, something that Natembeya was good at."

Mr Maalim’s promotion will take him straight into the security situation in Baringo and the Kerio Valley.

On Friday night a trader was killed and his motorcycle torched by armed herders in Lomoiywet, Muchongoi, Baringo.

At least 220 households have been displaced and learning at nine schools disrupted after the herders raided the area.

The affected schools include Kapkechir primary and secondary, Tuiyotich primary and secondary, Karne primary and secondary, Kasiela primary and Sinoni primary and secondary.

In Samburu, cattle rustling is rampant, especially in the northern town of Baragoi, with revelations that some politicians have been arming bandits to steal livestock.

Wamba, Lerata and Achers Post are bandits playing fields.

Baragoi, Suguta Mar Mar, Longewan and Malaso are also affected.

In 2021 alone, at least 50 people perished at the hands of bandits in Samburu, and cattle rustlers raid with abandon.

Mr Maalim takes over as Laikipia is healing from a series of bandit attacks last year that led to the deaths of dozens of people including security personnel.

Although the government finally managed to restore calm in the region, attacks are still being reported in the county.

He will inherit the security challenge and will have to complete the restoration process in Ol Moran and other areas that were affected last year.

Apart from bandit attacks and cattle rustling, he will have to deal with perennial ethnic violence, land disputes and retrogressive cultures like female genital mutilation and early teenage pregnancies in counties like Nakuru, Baringo, Samburu, West Pokok, Narok and Kajiado.

Among the areas that have witnessed bloodshed due to land conflicts are Naivasha, Njoro, Rongai, Gilgil, Bahati, Molo, Kuresoi South, Maai Mahiu, parts of Mau Narok and Narok South.

In Naivasha, a dispute over land at Ndabibi, believed to belong to the Agricultural Development Corporation but which members of the Maasai community also lay claim on, has previously led to the deaths of dozens of people.

Other land issues involve the fringes of the expansive Mau forest complex, including at the Maasai Mau and the Eastern Mau.

Mr Maalim will also have to oversee various government projects, most of which are behind schedule, leading in the fight against illicit alcohol, which last year killed 18 people in Nakuru and three in Laikipia.


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