Tribal groupings hide behind claims of marginalisation and need for change to secure powerful seat
By BONIFACE ONGERI
Clan affiliations continue to hold sway in Garissa and are seen to play a key role in shaping governor politics in the March 4 General Election.
Aspirants have stepped up campaigns for the position. Rivals have been on campaign mode since 2010 when the new Constitution was ratified and are now on overdrive, with promises of transforming the arid county – widely recognised as North Eastern Province’s political and economic powerhouse
Clan politics have featured in the campaigns as the race for the top position in the county, which has recently witnessed terror attacks, has shaped up as a contest involving four aspirants.
Mohammed Maulid Shurie, Nathif Adam, Harun Yussuf and Bunow Korane are seeking election to become the first governor of Garissa County.
Korane is a former Permanent Secretary, Nathif is the former Chief Executive Officer of First Community Bank, Shurie is former Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Water Service Board, and Harun a former principal at Garissa Secondary School.
Clan politics have featured in the campaigns for the position. In July an elders meeting had been convened to discuss who between Shurie and Korane would vie for the governor’s seat. However, the talks involving a 16-member team from the dominant Abudwak sub-clan of Ogaden were fruitless.
Ahemednadhir Omar, a businessman who was the first to declare interest in the seat, dropped his bid early December after Korane promised to name him his running mate.
One group is keen on preserving their economic interests while another is pressing for change, claiming they have been denied access to opportunities for ages.
To protect their wealth and power, it is said a number of rich and influential businessmen, professionals and residents of the county have sponsored various candidates.
Food security plans
“The status quo is fighting for their boys to continue ruling to protect their interests, property, image and business,” said Hussein Abdi Hassan, a resident. “They want to rule by proxy. That is why they have been trying to impose certain candidates instead of letting the people of Garissa to do independent choosing.”
Those who view the devolved system of government as an opportunity want the county’s resources exploited for the benefit of the residents and the dilapidated infrastructure tackled.
The county borders Somalia to the east, Wajir County to north and Tana River to the west. It is a dominated by the Auliyan, Abduwak and Abdalla sub-clans of the larger Ogaden clan. Other communities include the Degodia, Akamba, Kikuyu and the Ameru.
Nathif says he would transform Garissa citing his financial management expertise to ensure prudent use of county resources. He promises to find ready market for the residents’ livestock, which is the economic mainstay of the county.
He has pledged to establish a meat factory in the county in his first tenure as a governor, if elected.
Sporadic drought in the county decimates hundreds of livestock thus increasing the poverty levels.
The county is also under year round dependency on relief food. Nathif says he would tap the River Tana water for farm irrigation to ensure food security. The river cuts on the county’s western ring.
Insecurity has reared its ugly head with the sporadic attacks by the Somalia’s Al Shabaab militants. This has scared off potential investors.
Residents are looking for a governor who will help access more market outlets for their livestock products, locally and internationally.
Shurie said during his 22-year tenure at the helm of the water board, he had managed to construct several water pans in all the districts within the region to address water problem.
He describes the Government’s commitment to improving the roads and railway line infrastructure, citing the plans to construct the Kenya- Sudan railway line, as a big step in job creation for the county youth.
Shurie, who is a geologist by profession, said Garissa has several untapped natural resources, citing the possibility of excavating natural gases in Ijara District.
“I will offer incentives to retain local doctors to improve health services and ensure free and quality healthcare services. I also have a plan to improve education enrolment and quality through motivation of teachers.”
Korane says, “I plans to address high rate of unemployment in Garissa County by targeting the youth.
“I will create a conducive environment for small-scale industries to thrive and even establish fruit processing factory because the county produces bumper harvest of fruits like mango, bananas and watermelons,” he adds.
“With a vast experience of security matters, having worked as a security consultant, I will create ample security structures for the county. This included fostering harmonious living of the various clans in the county,” he said.