Why Jubaland poll matters for Kenya

The fact the United Nations is yet to classify Al Shabaab as a terror organisation should strike fear in the hearts of all Kenyans.

Kenyan politicians have a way of making us focus on very mundane issues as the country faces great challenges.

This week, for example, we have been treated to a governor who has decided to become the next Jerry Springer and waste our time busting men with children outside wedlock.

The shenanigans are better suited for a comedy show and our politicians should consider comedy as a career post-2022.

This is because there are much more serious matters afoot that affect life and limb.

There are matters of the economy with our debt soaring to nearly Sh6 trillion. There is the fight against corruption in which governors have been told to stay away from office and now we are forced to explain to the father of Yao what an office is.

Indeed, these are weighty matters and they deserve careful attention.

So weighty are these matters that we find ourselves ignoring our neighbours to the north east; Somalia and specifically Jubaland.

Jubaland is about to have an election. An election that matters to us because it is the federal state of Somalia that borders us. It is what determines whether Al Shabaab can reach Kenya or not.

For the last few years, it has been led by a president who is firmly against Al Shabaab. A president who has actively fought against the terrorist group and thus kept us safe.

The election in Jubaland should not be ignored in favour of discussing burial rites and recognising clandestine affairs. This is because Jubaland is also the state which borders Kenya’s maritime border with Somalia.

It is therefore critical that Kenya follows the goings on in Jubaland keenly.

Kenya is a well known peace maker, but we must now realise that peace in Jubaland and Somalia gives us peace of mind in light of Al Shabaab.

Thus Kenya should remind itself of the old adage that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Thus Ahmed Mohamed Islam Madobe, president of Jubaland, is our friend and it is in our best interest that our friends remain in power in Jubaland.

The fact the United Nations is yet to classify Al Shabaab as a terror organisation should strike fear in the hearts of all Kenyans.

This is for the simple reason that without such a classification many people can use it as a legitimate political tool within Somalia. It means that Al Shabaab can receive funding and even worse, can gain power.

Kenya is therefore left with Ethiopia as partner state against the militant group.

Sitting ducks

This weaponisation of terrorism is a real and present danger as Kenya has suffered many terror attacks in the hands of Al Shabaab.

Our military presence in Somalia has helped in keeping our country safe but we can not forget that were it not for the Jubaland government, we could have been sitting ducks in the conflict with Al Shabaab.

Our leaders should therefore be concerned with goings-on in Jubaland. We must be aware that this election is a test run for the greater Somalia election in 2020.

If we do not take care, we may soon be overrun by an Al Shabaab friendly leadership, not just in Jubaland but Somalia in general.

It is common sense that Kenya, as a state, can not interfere in a democratic process, and we shouldn’t. But it behoves us and our leaders to know who our friends are and who our enemies are.

We must know that elections affect how comfortably we can drink coffee in our malls, for if Jubaland falls into the wrong hands we would be in big trouble.

We must also be aware that our enemies do not play fair game. Our allies may be rigged out and if we do not offer technical support to the election process, our peace and security may be rigged out too. 

Our leaders also need to wake up and smell the coffee. We once prospered because every country around us was unstable and in a state of war.

Our economy thrived and we were the big brothers of the region because we were the only ones with a stable state and economy.

Today, Ethiopia is no longer ravaged by hunger and Uganda has not known war since President Museveni took power, Tanzania under Magufuli is racing with us for dominance over port access and now Somalia is beginning its early steps to stability.

This means that Kenya too must grow. We must grow our regional influence and dominance.

We must understand that we need our friends in key positions for the sake of business and commerce. We must not bury our heads in the sand when we see Ethiopia boldly brokering peace in Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia.

They are positioning themselves as the dominant state in the region.

Kenya must not rest on non-existent laurels when Ethiopia uses diplomacy to gain regional dominance. We too must arise and show that we are a thinking and forward minded state.

For once, let us forget the empty debes making the most noise and focus on issues that actually affect our lives in meaningful ways.

Let us discuss matters that matter and, for God’s sake, stop clapping when politicians tell us how they nominated MCA’s - it won’t put food on your table and it won’t stop Al Shabaab from attacking you.


Mr Bichachi is a communication consultant. [email protected]