The August 8 General Election will not only be a personal test for Marsabit Governor Ukur Yattani, in his bid to win a second term.
It will also prove whether residents backed his decision to quit the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) – his electoral vehicle in the 2013 polls – to form the Frontier Alliance Party (FAP) on whose ticket he is now seek re-election.
The county boss was endorsed for his re-election bid by the five Yaa Gabbra clans, in what came to be known as the Kalacha resolutions.
But his incumbency notwithstanding, he faces an uphill task against the challenge of three candidates keen on wresting the county’s top seat from him.
His three rivals are ODM’s Mr Wario Ibrahim Dambi; Mr Mohamud Ali, popularly known as Abshiro, of Jubilee and; US-based international development consultant Umuro Sora Adano of Kanu.
Mr Ali is the former chairman of the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).
In the 2013 elections, Mr Yattani garnered 48,491 votes against Mr Ali’s 34,829 to be the first governor of the largest county in the country by land mass and home to 15 communities.
Mr Yattani secured wins in North Horr, his backyard, and Laisamis constituencies, while Mr Ali trounced him in Saku and Moyale constituencies.
He was endorsed by Borana Council of Elders in a meeting that drew leaders from the community, to decide who should be their flag-bearer for the 2017 gubernatorial race.
This came after his rivals, Kajiado County Commissioner Kello Harsama and civil servant Guyo Kuchana, agreed to step down in his favour.
Mr Ali seeks to galvanise support from all the communities to form the next government.
LIVELIHOOD OF LOCALS
But he faces a tough challenge following the entry into the race of Mr Dambi, who is also from the Borana tribe.
Mr Adano’s bid is bound to stir up a political storm between him and Mr Yattani since both are from the Gabbra community.
He promises to use his 22-year experience in international development work, which involved stints in over 20 countries, to uplift the livelihoods of Marsabit residents.
In the 2013 polls, Governor Yattani was in a political coalition commonly known as Regabu (for Rendile, Gabbra and Burji) and was elected on an ODM ticket.
Mr Boru Golicha Guyo, an elder, says the 2013 polls were polarising, with the Regabu pitted against the Borana.
Marsabit Senator Haragura Godana, who was a part of the Regabu coalition has ditched it to form a coalition with Mr Ali, hence swaying the Rendile vote to support the Borana candidate.
The coalition has also brought on board a former chief campaigner for Mr Yattani, who is a Burji and will be Mr Ali’s running mate.
The governor enjoys the backing of three elected MPs: Chachu Ganya (North Horr), Joseph Lekuton (Laisamis), and Roba Duba (Moyale) as well as Women Representative Nasra Ibrahim.
Marsabit tribes include: Borana, Gabbra, Somali, Rendile, Burji, Gari, Kona, Samburu, Turkana, Dasanach, Sakuye, and Konso.