The battle for the Garissa County woman representative seat promises to be a bruising one as six candidates battle to be the next county MP.
The women are not taking chances with just about a month to the August 8 General Election, and have been using available opportunities in their campaigns to explain to voters their plans and vision for the county should they be elected.
Amina Keinan, the Kanu candidate for the seat has launched her manifesto, pledging to improve access to health for residents in the vast county and ensuring delivery of quality healthcare in Garissa.
“In Africa, healthcare is designed to mainly suit business interest rather than the people who are the end users. Any public system that puts profits before service is always expensive and shambolic,” said Mrs Keinan, a trained nurse.
According to the candidate, healthcare is a technology incorporated today and needs less human resources.
Unfortunately, she says, Garissa hospitals has lots of personnel without the required skills are semi skills, and thus the need to invest in modern technologies and specialists, to reduce expensive and unnecessary out-sourcing of treatment and travel.
“Although healthcare is my primary concern, I will also focus on matters of education, Agriculture, water and enhancement of cohesion, harmony and tolerance among county residents,” she told supporters during the launch.
The Kanu candidate will face five opponents at the ballot. They are Shukran Gure of Wiper Party, Anab Subow of Jubilee Party, Fatuma Kinsi of ODM Amani National Congress’s Ebla Sahal and Maryam Sheikh of Third Way Alliance.
In her manifesto, the Kanu candidate says she would do her best to lead efforts to improve the state of education in the county, saying it is sad that the area has been trailing in national examinations. She attributes this to poor leadership.
“We condemn teachers most of the time but the failure is a joint venture, no one looks back at the results and look where we miserably fail, improve or outperformed,” notes Mrs Keinan.
The Kanu candidate says she was born in Garissa and attended Jaribu Primary School and NEP Girls High School and later joined Kenta Medical Training College in Homa Bay to study nursing.
Mrs Keinan holds an MBA, in healthcare management and leadership from Concordia University, St. Paul and Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Public Health at Mary’s University.
The candidate who has lived in the US for the last 18 years, has been criticized by opponents accusing her of being out of touch with the ordinary people in the County. However, she defends herself saying her living abroad has given her exposure and experience in leadership.
According to her, voters will elect her based on her experience and expertise. She has also taken issue with those who have been endorsed by clan elders and are campaigning on that basis.
“We are asking on what qualifications they were chosen. Is there a criteria which elders consider when picking individuals to vie for certain elective posts? It cuts across Garissa voters and I believe I will emerge victorious based on issues I have,” she added.
Mrs Keinan worked briefly at Garissa General Hospital before settling in US where she also worked in several health centers including at a children’s hospital and clinic.
And this week, the county’s youths organised a debate for woman rep candidates aimed at creating a dialogue between voters and the candidates.
Only Mrs Kinsi of ODM Mrs Sahal of ANC turned up, and used the opportunity to outline their vision for the county should they
But the two were unanimous on the need to ensure that money allocated to Affirmative Action Fund would be used to empower youth and women in the county.
Mrs Sahal said should she be elected, she would sponsor a Bill in Parliament to increase funding for marginalized counties while her counterpart said she would petition parliament to remove 3miles access to the river saying people in Garissa are not benefiting from Tana River.
According to the ODM candidate, Northeastern counties have been marginalized by successive governments and therefore, the need for laws to ensure initiative for more development.
“On unemployment, I will establish resource centers in the county where youth get information on jobs and also get necessary documents,” Mrs Kinsi told residents at the debate and promised she would work hard to bring more investments in the county.
On the other hand, Mrs Kinsi promised women and youth equally without reference to clannism or political affiliation, and urged voters to ignore issues of clan and vote for leaders with integrity.