Elders from the Gabra community are Wednesday expected to name their preferred candidate for the Marsabit gubernatorial seat.
This is a repeat of the exercise after they in June endorsed Governor Ukur Yatani to seek re-election, but their choice was challenged by US-based consultant Umuro Sora Adano who said he was not involved in the deliberations.
The elders have been meeting in Kalacha for the past two weeks for the final deliberations.
The Gabra candidate is to face Senator Abubakar Hargura and National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) chairman Mohamud Ali in the 2017 polls.
Marsabit is Kenya’s biggest county in terms of land size.
With a 500-kilometres border stretch with Ethiopia, Marsabit which hosts the largest wind power project in Africa, is also home to the Chalbi desert.
Most of Lake Turkana which is the largest permanent desert lake in the world, is also in Marsabit.
The county is home to 14 indigenous communities who determine the voting patterns.
YATANI MAN TO BEAT
Governor Yatani, who still remains the man to beat being the incumbent, and Mr Adano, hail from the dominant Gabra community who form 28 per cent of locals.
After Mr Yatani was endorsed by the Gabra elders in June 2016, Mr Adano’s group pushed for another session to determine the community’s flag bearer.
Mr Yatani had an agreement with three other communities except the Borana to serve for two terms and for the Rendile to produce the senator, Burji the deputy governor and Garre, women representative.
The ‘winning coalition’ which was adopted by Mr Yattani in 2013 also brought together the other local MPs. However, Mr Hargura has deserted him.
Gabra elders who met in Kalacha in June said the former top civil servant and diplomat was the best suited for the seat due to his development record and having helped unite locals.
“Our people have spoken once again and re-affirmed their choice for 2017 gubernatorial race,” Mr Yattani who has emerged as upper eastern top politician after the death of former Cabinet Minister Bonaya Godana, said then.
On the other hand, Borana elders met at Sololo in January and backed Mr Ali.
Mr Ali, who vied on a URP ticket in 2013 getting 34,829 votes against Mr Yatani’s (ODM) 48,495, got the elders’ blessings after his rivals stepped down.
Mr Adano is backed by East Africa Legislative Assembly MP Sarah Bonaya Godana.
Mr Yattani received a boost when a group from the Wayu sub-clan, who form 40 per cent of the Borana threw their weight behind him.
The Sidhamos, who used to back Mr Ali are also now supporting Mr Yatani.
The governor enjoys the backing from MPs Chachu Ganya (North Horr), Joseph Lekuton (Laisamis) and Roba Duba (Moyale) and Woman Rep Nasra Ibrahim.
DENIED JOINING JUBILEE
Mr Yatani has denied defecting to Jubilee Party and instead said he will work for formation of a political alliance that will bring together all leaders and communities in the county for unity and development.
Speaking during a three-day tour of North Horr backyard recently, Mr Yattani, who was accompanied by Mr Ganya and several MCAs, said
they are strengthening the Rendille, Gabbra and Burji (Regabu) coalition.
“We have formed a super alliance that includes more communities in the earlier Regabu coalition. We are also working together with all
residents of Marsabit to enhance unity and development,” Mr Yattani said.
He earlier said leaders in Marsabit were considering sharing “future political positions based on the major ethnic groups/clans of
The governor says he has involved all 14 communities in Marsabit in his government.
Mr Yattani boasts of having helped the county export more than 30,000 sheep to Ethiopia. He says more livestock are to be sold in the Middle East.
He says he intends to ensure Marsabit has a Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) and a university.
Some 30 boreholes have been drilled and 30 water pans expanded during his term.
Under Mr Yatani’s watch, tribal skirmishes in Marsabit have become a thing of the past.
Also, eight conservancies have been established and deaths of human and livestock ended.
Mr Yatani hopes his development record will appeal to the Gabra elders to endorse him for a second term.