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Push for more resources at the heart of political realignment

NORTH EASTERN
By Moses Nyamori | October 19th 2021

Members of Malka Bisanadi from Kinna location, Garba-Tula sub-county in Isiolo grow and sale fodder crops to NGOs. [Ali Abdi,Standard]

Demand for more resources to arid and semi-arid counties is at the heart of the political realignment in North Eastern. Two formations have since emerged amid scramble for the more than a million votes in the region by Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga. Clan politics and negotiated democracy are also likely to chart the direction the region will take in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession race.

The counties are sparsely populated and would be disadvantage under a revenue sharing formula that gives premium to population.

The National Treasury CS Ukur Yatani and a host of politicians from the region have since formed Upya Movement and declared support for Raila.

Mandera Governor Ali Roba has also acquired the United Democratic Movement Party (UDM) in readiness for the 2022 General Election. Roba is yet to declare his preferred candidate in the race for the top seat.

Yesterday, Eldas MP Adan Keynan, who doubles up as the Jubilee Coalition Parliamentary Group joint secretary, said the North-Eastern region had guarantee of development under a Raila presidency owing to his track record of pushing for devolution resources.

“That is why we in the Upya Movement support a Raila presidency under his Azimio la Umoja Movement, as it will safeguard the gains made so far through devolution and open more avenues for development to our people,” said Mr Keynan.

Garissa Governor Ali Korane, Wajir’s Ahmed Mukhtar and Isiolo’s Mohamed Kuti have also declared support for the ODM leader.

Roba, who is serving his last term as governor, said he was still in the process of building UDM and engaging locals in talks before they settle on a candidate to back for the presidency. “We are not fielding any presidential candidate but we are going to be a formidable force in the national scene. We are in the process of consensus building,” he said.

The governor said the party was open to entering into a coalition with like-minded outfits to form the next government.

“Rather than follow the euphoria, we want to find out critical issues that we want addressed by the next government. What are our development priorities? After that, our next question would be who is best suited presidential candidate,” he said.

Economic Freedom Party (EFP) national chairman Issack Abey said he was engaging locals before deciding who to back for the presidency.

He said they would only settle on the candidate that would guarantee more resources to the counties that have suffered marginalisation.

Mr Abey said security and porous borders that had exposed the region to external attacks would be major consideration by the voters.

“The region’s voting pattern will mostly be influenced by the issue of resources and clan dynamics. As a region, our main concern is about resources to our counties,” he said.

“We have been meeting and consulting as a party. There are people trying to bring in their small parties but we believe that EFP remains the party for the region, and we will only back one who carries our interests at heart,” he added.

Mr Korane said a Raila presidency would inspire confidence, stability and economic growth.

“The President has done a lot in many areas and when Raila comes in next, I foresee a stable and developing Kenya. We know what he stands for in terms of devolution and independence of institutions,” he said.

According to 2017 data by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, and Isiolo have 718,997 voters. The numbers are expected to go up after ongoing mass voter registration.

According to the 2017 polls data, Uhuru garnered 293,243 votes against Raila’s 159,636 in the region.

In Garissa, that has a total of 163,350 votes, Raila managed 54,356 against Uhuru’s 54,783, while in Wajir – which had 162,912 total votes – the ODM leader garnered 52,362 votes against the President’s 60,508.

Raila garnered 17,984 votes while Uhuru got 112,456 in Mandera, which had 175,650 registered voters in the August 8, 2017 General Election.

In Marsabit, which had 141,730 voters, Raila managed 16,003 against Uhuru’s 92,692, while in Isiolo, ODM lost to Jubilee with 18,931 votes against 26,746.

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