Marsabit Governor Ukur Yattani has decamped from ODM together with other elected leaders to back President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election.
Four Members of Parliament, 25 MCAs and more than 300 elders representing the 15 communities living in Kenya’s biggest county accompanied the governor when he visited President Kenyatta at State House in Nairobi.
The MPs were Roba Duba (Moyale), Chachu Ganya (North Horr), Nasra Ibrahim (Women Rep) and Joseph Lekuton (Laisamis) who excused himself before the meeting to attend to an urgent matter. Ganya, Nasra and Lekuton all belonged to ODM.
Mr Yattani becomes the latest in the list of governors and senior politicians to defect from the opposition to rally behind President Kenyatta’s re-election.
The governor said he was decamping from ODM to the Frontier Alliance Party, which supports the re-election of President Kenyatta. This effectively means Marsabit has no opposition pointman as the governor and the aspiring governor are all on the same side.
“We have decided to leave the Opposition because the people of Marsabit are very grateful for the work you have done for us including the tarmacking of the tarmac road,” said Yattani.
He said the journey from Moyale to Nairobi, which used to take four days, now takes six or seven hours because of the construction of the tarmac road.
Yattani said there would be competition for all elective positions at the county level but there was unanimity among the people of Marsabit that their choice for the top seat was President Kenyatta.
The North Horr MP said the leaders from the county always supported the Government because they were confident that its agenda to develop the country was a genuine one.
MP Duba said besides their preference for Jubilee’s development agenda, they enjoyed working with President Kenyatta.
The Marsabit Woman Representative said they had formed their own party, which would work with Jubilee Party in re-electing President Kenyatta.
Marsabit has the distinction of being Kenya’s largest county and is home to 15 of Kenya’s 43 recognised ethnic groups.
President Kenyatta said he appreciated the position taken by the Marsabit governor, MPs, MCAs and their supporters.
He assured them he would not interfere with the choice the people of Marsabit would make because all the candidates for governor, MP and MCAs would be lining up behind him.
“You are all mine and I promise you there will be no interference and as you compete, do it in a civilised manner because at the end of the day the winner will be ours and the loser will still be ours,” said the President.
Yattani’s main challenger Mohamud Mohammed Ali, who comes from the larger Borana community, remains the sole candidate for the Jubilee ticket.
Ali unsuccessfully vied for the seat on a United Republican Party ticket in the 2013 election.
He resigned from his position as chairman of the National Hospital and Insurance Fund (NHIF), to which he was appointed by the Jubilee Government, to contest the gubernatorial seat in the August election.
Ali has been endorsed by his Borana clan to battle it out with Yattani from Gabra clan.
Also in the race is Umuro Sora Adano alias USA, also from the Gabra clan. The London School of Economics graduate is yet to declare on which party he would vie for the seat.
Ali’s camp had been apprehensive that Yattani could be handed a direct ticket by the ruling coalition ahead of his planned defection.
During the President’s tour of Coast on this week, Tana River Governor Hussein Dado and the County’s Woman Representative Halima Ware decamped from the Opposition and joined Jubilee.
The governor and the woman representative were elected on a Wiper Democratic Party ticket in the last elections. They made the announcement when they led a delegation to meet the President at State House in Mombasa.
They were accompanied by Tana River Senator Ali Bule.
The two leaders said they have joined Jubilee voluntarily.
Receiving the two leaders at State House Mombasa, President Kenyatta thanked them for their decision, saying all along it had been his desire to work with them.
“It is good that the people of this great county have joined Jubilee,” said the President.
“The policy of Jubilee is to bring all Kenyans together, irrespective of their religion or locality.”
Others who defected to Jubilee were Taita Taveta Senator Dan Mwazo and Woman Representative Joyce Lay.