Detestable clan rivalries and political asperities have been a major wellspring of disunity among residents of Garissa County. Sometimes the bad blood between the various clans resulted in conflicts that cost lives and property.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission listed the county among 33 election violence hot spots ahead of last year's General Election. Nevertheless, this political cloud has been commendably unstayed after Ali Bunow Korane assumed the county's leadership.
Garissa County is generally multi-ethnic, but there are three predominant Somali clans namely Abuduak, Auliyahan and Samawadhal. They are offshoots of the Ogaden ancestry, which makes them brothers on a wider scope.
However, historically, the three communities have been disagreeable to each other. As such, the Governor knew it would be hard to economically develop the area without first confronting this social disquiet.
Truth be told, the previous county government had a significant weakness concerning cohesion, which further complicated the issue of clannism. The Abuduak clan that invariably had much clout in the politics of the county prior to the start of devolution, for instance, largely missed out on the county's decision-making tables.
Meanwhile, it was merriment for the other two Ogaden clans of Auliyahan and Samawadhal, who took the position of governorship and deputy governor respectively in a power sharing deal.
Little development in areas inhabited by members of the Abuduak clan did little to assuage it from feeling sidelined by the very corporate body that was purposefully instituted by the Constitution as redress for past inequities and marginalisation.
Then a tragic conflict occurred in an outlying area of the county known as Qabobey during that infancy stage of devolution, in what seemed to be a buildup of the clan supremacy battle. What a wrong way it was to begin devolution!
Mr Korane took a different approach after his election by extending an olive branch to his competitors and reached out to various communities in a determined move to create unity and cohesion. It was particularly disarming when he started the healing work with the clan of his predecessor by resolving that differences between the Abuduak and Auliyahan had to end forthwith. Attention had to shift to peace-building and development of the county for the 'good of all'.
Worthy mentioning here is the fact that there was a palpable fear among some Auliyahan that if Korane became governor they would be oppressed. But through that fruitful meeting with the clan elites and elders shortly following his victory, the preconception has become untenable.
Korane's government has also adopted a more balanced approach to appointments and development projects.
Apart from having considerable presence in the executive, the critical human resource position of Chairperson of Garissa County Public Service Board, for example, has gone to madam Ebla Europe Sahal, an Auliyahan.
The development tours of the county chief have as well been pleasantly balanced and characterised by very warm reception from people, regardless of their progenitors.
I guess what has come in handy for the governor so far is that he had long ago studied the failures of the previous government with a desire to turn matters around. His experience on the whys and hows of public service gave him a head-start. No wonder he carries himself more as a technocrat than a politician. In fact, korane has publicly stated that he does not consider himself a politician.
His action-oriented style of leadership is now causing discomfort in some local, power-hungry politicians, who have seen that the governor may easily secure a second term if he keeps the current momentum of peace-building and development going.
They have now resorted to forming a tacit alliance of political saboteurs, whose work is to discredit the governor.
To these forces of darkness, leadership is but a chance to get more wealth and clapping crowd, which is what Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua once described as the essence of the "politics of poverty".
I, therefore, urge the governor to continue with his commendable peace-building and development efforts and not get distracted or discouraged by the machinations of political busybodies and opportunists, who are out to curtail and derail his noble agenda for the people.
Residents should also support the work of remaking our county and shame, shun and spurn the purveyors of hatred and political retrogression.
Mr Mohamed comments on sociopolitical issues. [email protected]