Mandera Governor Ali Roba. (Photo: Edward Kiplimo, Standard)
A political battle is shaping up between two camps in Mandera County that will either hand its council of elders a new lease of life or render it useless.
Governor Ali Roba Sunday described the Mandera Council of Elders as a group of people who had lost touch with the needs of the residents and can no longer purport to speak on behalf of the electorate.
But, in an interesting development, the elders now have a political vehicle, Economic Freedom Party (EFP), whose key mandate is to enforce the resolution of the council that all the leaders elected in 2013 are replaced.
EFP’s chairman Isaac Hassan Abey explained that there will be no nominations in Mandera as the council of elders had already picked its candidates for the general elections.
Key among those given the blessings by EFP are former provincial commissioner Hassan Noor Hassan for the post of governor, former chairman of United Democratic Front, Hasan Osman for senator and Amina Gedow as woman representative.
“It is very expensive to conduct party nominations in Mandera. It costs over Sh20 million for an MP to prepare for the nominations,” Mr Abey said.
Governor Roba’s camp has MPs Mohamed Haji (Banisa), Shaban Issack (Lafey), Mohamud Mohamed (Mandera West) and Adan Mohamed Nooru (Mandera North); all have defied the elders’ orders barring them from defending their seats.
EFP, which has the blessings of the council of elders, has Senator Billow Kerrow, MPs Mohamed Huka (Mandera South), Fathia Mahbub (Woman Rep), nominated MP Hassan Osman and Deputy Governor Omar Mohammed.
They have not contested the elders’ decision to replace all the elected leaders because they wanted to ensure all groups of people got a chance to be elected.
Speaking Sunday at Moi Stadium in Mandera town when he launched the county’s Jubilee Party campaign team, Roba highlighted his development record, stating that the polls would be about development agenda.
He accused the elders of trying to frame the race to be a about clans and not development plans for the people.
“People will be elected based on their performance and not their clans or tribe. The campaigns must be about the agenda we have for our people and not about rotating leadership,” said Roba.
Senator Kerrow’s camp ditched Jubilee for the new outfit after President Uhuru Kenyatta refused to hand the elders’ nominees for various seats direct tickets.
According to Abey, some of the incumbent leaders had used the State machinery to send misleading intelligence to the President and his deputy, William Ruto.
Roba said they had asked the camp to remain in Jubilee so that they could participate in Jubilee primaries but refused, terming their move cowardly and a sign that they had sensed defeat.
“This county is purely Jubilee and I want to tell our opponents that we will beat them hands down in the polls,” said Roba.