Coal plant politics stokes archipelago election fires

The proposed Sh200 billion coal-fired power plant in Lamu County is a topic that many local leaders have shunned, even as they seek elective office in the August 8 General Election.

But for Woman Representative Shakila Abdalla, the matter has been closest to her heart and she has not been afraid to speak her mind on what she believes to be the evils of such a project.

The site of the proposed project is Kwasasi village in Hindi, Lamu West Sub-County.

ABDALLA CRITICISED
Ms Abdalla, who is the Wiper Democratic Movement deputy party leader, faces a tough challenge on her re-election from four other candidates — Mrs Ruweida Mohamed Obbo (Jubilee Party), Mrs Aisha Nizar Abdalla (Orange Democratic Movement), Mrs Maryam Abubakar (Maendeleo Chap Chap) and Ms Muthoni Monica Marubu, an independent candidate.

The legislator however seems unperturbed, insisting that her efforts to ensure the coal plant is not established in Lamu are unstoppable.

Intense and widespread criticism has been levelled against Ms Abdalla by the county and even national government leaders concerning her stand.

A LEADER’S STRUGGLE

However, some pundits argue that this might even get her bonus votes, bearing in mind that what the Lamu voters want is a leader who can give them direction concerning the sensitive matter.

Just recently, residents threatened to vote out all the incumbents in August if they do not state their stand regarding the power plant.

In a recent interview with the Nation in Lamu town, a confident Ms Abdalla said the struggle to ensure the plant is not established in Lamu was a drop in the ocean compared to the numerous sacrifices she has made for the people.

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION FUND
She dismissed allegations by her opponents that she has been sleeping on the job and instead cautioned them to prepare for a tough battle for the seat.

Ms Abdalla said her development record speaks for itself and she is confident of going back to Parliament.

As examples, she listed projects that she has initiated through the National Government Affirmative Action Fund (Ngaaf), which is controlled by woman reps.

“Those that have eyes can see and bear me witness that I have done a lot for this county,” Ms Abdalla said.

“The matter of the coal plant is just a drop in the ocean. Since I came to power, I have managed to rehabilitate over 300 youth who were lost in the drug menace.

BURSARIES

“Through the Ngaaf, I have managed to empower over 200 Lamu women groups. More than 600 students have also benefited from the Ngaaf after receiving bursaries that enabled them to stay in school. Surely, my track record speaks volumes.

“Through Ngaaf, my office has also managed to introduce the annual Faza Cultural Festival, whose second edition was marked last month.

“Such a festival provides a chance for our people to celebrate their traditions and even enables the young generation to learn their culture. It also promotes national cohesion and integration.”

The Faza Cultural Festival is held in Lamu East.

CULTURE
The event’s mandate is to showcase the ancient traditions and cultural practices of the Bajuni and the Awer (Boni) communities, who have lived in Faza for centuries.

It is also meant to empower the communities and enable them to promote their culture, as well as help to bring national unity.

But Ms Abdalla’s main rival, Ms Obbo, thinks otherwise.

She said there is nothing the incumbent can show for the four years she has been in power.

OBBO’S AGENDA
She said her main agenda, if elected in August, is to ensure unity among the Lamu people, better health care, education for all and women empowerment.

“It is high time the people of Lamu chose quality leadership, which would ensure better health care, education for all, improved economy, cleaner water and security,” Mrs Obbo said.

“For our women, they need empowerment. Those are my key agendas if elected in the August 8 General Election.”

DRUGS
Mrs Aisha Abdalla of ODM says she is determined to ensure Lamu youth are redeemed from the drug menace and employment created for all.

The opposition candidate said she would also ensure Lamu women were empowered so that they become independent.

She added that one of her key duties once elected will be to ensure tribalism is eradicated in the county.

GENDER PARITY
As for Mrs Abubakar, her key agenda is to unite the Lamu people.

She also pledges to ensure gender parity in employment in the county.

A holder of a bachelors’ degree in International Relations, Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs from the United States International University-Africa (USIU), Ms Marubu has pledged to improve the education of girls in Lamu.

INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE
Ms Marubu, the youngest among the candidates for the woman rep seat, has also vowed to cultivate cohesion among all communities living in the county.

“I will sponsor our women and youth in Lamu for various development projects that will enable them earn an income, improve their general livelihoods and hence eradicate poverty,” Ms Marubu said.

In the 2013 General Election, Ms Abdalla won with 19,000 votes, followed by Ms Annastasia Mwangi 17,000 votes.

Ms Mwangi is however not in this year’s race, having settled for the parliamentary contest on an independent ticket.

Ms Mwangi’s move is considered an added advantage for the incumbent.

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