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Kenya: Two aspirants defy clan deal to fight for Senate seat

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Since the promulgation of the Constitution in 2010, discussions on the positions of Senator, Governor and Women representative in Wajir County revolved around three major clans of the Somali community.

The Ogaden, Degodia and Ajuran clans began debates on sharing the seats, a form of negotiated democracy.

It was unanimously agreed the gubernatorial seat would be set aside for the Degodia clan by virtue of being the majority.

The Ogaden and Ajuran clans could not reach a compromise on who should settle for the Senate seat or the non-elective deputy governor’s seat.

Both clans vowed not to settle for nothing less than a senator.

After the talks failed to materialise, the race for the senator seat was left open. The candidates are former Wajir South MP Abdirahaman Hassan Ali (ODM), Nominated MP Mohammed Affey (Wiper) and a former teacher Adan Omar Enow (URP) and former provincial administrator Ahmed Mohammed Abdullahi (Ford-K). Others are businessman Sharrif Sabdow (Narc-K) and a university don Prof Osman Warfa.

While Enow is the only candidate from the Ajuran, Ali, Affey and Warfa hail from the Ogaden clan. Sharif is the only candidate from the Degodia.

Enow was endorsed by the Ajuran Council of Elders from a list of ten people who had expressed interest for the seat from the community.

In a county where clan loyalty is almost central to life, Ali, Warfa  and Affey bid could be dealt a mortal blow as the clan allegiance may be divided.

Ali and Affey who have had a bitter political rivalry while battling for the Wajir South parliamentary seat have extended the contest to the senate seat.

Several bids by their Ogaden clan elders to have one candidate failed because neither of them was willing to step down for the other with Affey insisting he was endorsed by the Ogaden clan.

When asked about their plans for the county, Affey said Wajir is one of the richest in the country but years of mismanagement have ensured it is underdeveloped.

He said the county is ready for economic off take and he will steer it to prosperity.

He said the county has numerous minerals including limestone, coal and even oil that need to be fully exploited to benefit the residents. However, it is not clear how he would implement such as a senator because according to the Constitution, the exploitation of such national resources would be spearheaded by the national government.

He said his biggest dream is to have the nearly 300km Garissa-Wajir road tarmacked to ensure easy communication.

He promised to ensure the Wajir International Airport is used to spur the livestock sector in the county through export of livestock products to markets in the Middle East and Europe. He said he would work to strengthen the livestock health and marketing systems to ensure residents benefit from their animals.

He said there is dire need to create employment for the youth.

“Above all, quality education is important and I will be seeking to have at least one university in the county to promote higher learning,” Affey said.

Enow said under his leadership, he would help create wealth for the unemployed masses in the county. This he said will be achieved by setting up sharia compliant micro-financing institutions for youths, women and other special groups.

He promised to establish a sports and talent academy to exploit the untapped potential.

“I will also establish a county education trust fund that will assist students get education scholarships,” he said adding that education is central in development.

Health remains a major concern in the neglected region and Enow said he would push to have Wajir District Hospital elevated to a referral hospital offering quality health care for the residents.

At the same time, Enow said he would spearhead the establishment of private/public partnership at the county level to seek funding for road, electricity and other infrastructural development.

It is not clear how the aspirants would implement such lofty promises as senators will not have direct control and management of funds but will be making laws on distribution of devolved funds.

Abdirahaman said he sought the seat in order to rise above clan politics. He said the position of the senator offers the opportunity of bringing diverse communities together. He is credited with uniting clans in Wajir South constituency when he served as area MP.


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