Mvita Member of Parliament Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir skipped the Mombasa governorship debate on Saturday, July 16, as his opponents went neck to neck.
Nassir who is seeking to replace Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho on an ODM ticket was nowhere to be seen during the over one-hour long debate held at the Kenya School of Government in Mombasa.
At least six candidates are eyeing the hotly contested seat among them former Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar vying on a UDA ticket and Mombasa deputy governor William Kingi on a PAA ticket.
Others are Hezron Awiti Bolo (VDP), Daniel Kitsao (Independent), and Shafii Makazi of UPIA Party.
Candidates were taken to task on their agendas and policies for Mombasa County should they be elected in the August 9 General Election.
Issues of diversification of ports, corruption, and waste management took center stage on Saturday.
Omar said if he clinches the governor's seat, he will focus on the special economic zone and place more priority on the blue economy.
“The fundamental pillars of Kenya Kwanza rest largely on the coastal strip. Some of the richest people in Africa will actually be living in Mombasa. I will focus on the special economic zone and the blue economy, particularly fish exports. I will re-do the tourism products beyond the monotony of the beach,” the ex-Senator stated.
Kingi on the other hand admitted that the transport sector in the coastal region had been more highlighted than others, a factor he owed to the people’s culture.
“That has been our culture here at the Coast that we prioritize issues of transport. But should I be elected, I will focus on the blue economy which is a very big sector that has not been looked into with depth,” the DG said.
He also promised to deal with land grabbers, an issue he said weighed heavily on the people of Mombasa.
“I will ensure public land that has been grabbed has been returned,” said Kingi.
Awiti promised to tackle youth unemployment in the county, saying it was a big menace.
“When you see signs of people complaining about violence, that says there is poor planning on the division of labor. If I am given a chance to be the governor, I will involve the community to tackle problems with the youth,” he noted.
Mombasa residents will be electing a new governor on August 9.
On July 13, the High Court in Mombasa ordered the IEBC to clear Mike Sonko to contest for Mombasa governorship, a decision annulled by the Supreme Court on Friday. Sonko says he will appeal the ruling.