Wajir West Mp Abdikadir Ore and Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi during the public re-affirmation function in Wajir town. (Photo: James Wanzala/Standard)
The contest for the Wajir gubernatorial seat has taken a new turn as factions of Degodia leaders engage in a fierce political supremacy battle.
Leaders from the Degodia majority clan in the county have formed two camps and held parallel campaign rallies in the town this past weekend.
MPs Mohamed Elmi of Tarbaj and Adan Keynan of Eldas, both of ODM party, have teamed up with Wajir West MP Abbas Mohamed of Jubilee to front former Kenyan ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mohamed Abdi Mohamud to contest against the incumbent Ahmed Abdullahi (ODM).
Ambassador Mohamud is seeking Jubilee Party ticket.
Tarbaj MP Mohamed Elmi, Adan Keynan of Eldas and Abbas Sheikh of Wajir endorsed the former envoy at a ceremony at Qorahey grounds on Monday.
The endorsement by a section of ethnic Degodia leaders was a dramatic political shift because in the 2013 polls, the trio campaigned for the incumbent.
During that election, the governor and the MPs that have now turned against him vied on the ODM ticket against Abdi who lost on the Jubilee ticket.
In 2017, the dynamics of the gubernatorial race and local politics appear to have gone full cycle with key politicians from the Fai, Jibrail and Masare sub-clans of the Degodia abandoning the incumbent, a fellow ethnic Degodia like Abdi.
Meanwhile, the Elmi-Keynan-Sheikh group is gravitating towards Jubilee on whose ticket Abdi is seeking to unseat the governor.
“On Sunday, Degodia community members from Wajir East, West, Tarbaj and Eldas constituencies met and came up with resolutions on devolution… The meeting also resolved that ambassador Abdi will be the flag bearer of the governorship in 2017,” said Elmi during the rally at Orahey.
An elated Abdi welcomed his endorsement.
“It is an honour for me to get the clan endorsement and if I get elected in August, I will unite the people of Wajir County,” he said.
Others present at the function were ODM nominated Senator Halima Abdille and Wajir West MP Abbas Sheikh Mohamed.
Abbass Sheikh said the clan, which largely voted for ODM in 2013 will field their candidates on the JP ticket in August.
The MP claimed that in spite of voting against Jubilee in 2013, the clan has benefited from the Uhuru Kenyatta administration.
“Less than 38 per cent voted for Jubilee in the last elections but the Government has rewarded the family,” said Sheikh.
Keynan accused the incumbent of using county resources to campaign and warned this will be resisted.
The governor, has in turn accused the MPs of causing divisions and alleged further that the three MPs have sabotaged his administration since its inception in 2013.
The governor vowed to remain focussed on service delivery and said he will triumph.
Ironically, Elmi and Keynan who have fallen out with the governor, in 2013 accused ambassador Abdi of being unfit to hold public office.
Degodia Council of Elders Chairman Ibrahim Hussein said Abdullahi is one of the best performing governors in the country and have confidence in his leadership.
“In Wajir, we have one of the top governors in all the 47 counties. Our brothers who have fallen out with him are not providing a better manager to handle this county. His development record speaks for itself and that is why as the council, we have decided to stick with him and support him for a second term,” said Hussein, during a public re-affirmation function on Sunday at Sunrise Academy.
“As far as we are concerned, there is only one Degodia Council of Elders and I am the chairman. Anyone purporting to be council of elders chairman and endorsing ambassador Mohamud is not part of us because Governor Abdullahi was endorsed by over 450 council elders on 19th January at ICT Hall,” said Hussein.
The Degodia clan leaders deny causing ethnic divisions and say they have set up a team of elders drawn from all the sub-sections of the clan to preach internal unity.
“We have also resolved to form a committee to bring together the factions within the Degodia clan,” Elmi said.
The governor, on his part, has called on Elmi and Keynan to join his camp because the elders have re-affirmed their decision.
“Elmi and Keynan accused ambassador Abdi of hypocrisy and poor leadership when they were supporting me against him in 2013. What will they tell the people now?” asked Abdullahi.
Abdullahi, who was elected on an ODM ticket, won with over 42,000 votes against ambassador Abdi’s 35,000.
The third candidate Mohamed Ali Mursal has withdrawn from the contest and opted to support the incumbent.
Wajir County is mainly inhibited by the majority Degodia clan together with Ajuran and Ogaden communities.
Analysts say Abdi’s endorsement will ignite new dynamics as the Ogaden clan in the southern parts of the county may opt front its own gubernatorial candidate, with ethnic Ajuran acting as the swing vote in the contest.
Other aspirants are former Umma University dean and author Dr Salah Abdi Sheikh on Third Alliance Party of Kenya and Ahmed Muhumed who has not yet declared the party to vie for.
ODM won most of the elective seats in the county in 2013, with Jubilee securing a single parliamentary seat through the defunct United Republican Party.