Lamu candidates in the August 8 elections are now pointing their campaign guns at insecurity, with most pledging to ensure national government funding to the sector to conclusively deal with terrorism.
The county has suffered numerous terror attacks and attempts since 2014 that left more than 100 people dead in Mpeketoni, Kibaoni, Witu and Hindi.
The continued presence of Al-Shabaab terrorists in Basuba Ward and inside Boni Forest is a major security threat that politicians are now promising to end in the next five years.
Newcomers seeking elective positions have maximised on the security situation of Lamu.
As they promise residents better security if elected, they tell those who have been in office to give an account of what they have done to ensure safety.
This clearly came out at the re-launch of the weekend’s Safina Party of Kenya aspirants across the county at Mpeketoni town, where the candidates also got time to campaign.
Lamu West MP Julius Ndegwa and the senatorial candidate, Maj (Rtd) Ali Mohdhar, promised to join hands with the government in ending the Al-Shabaab threat in the county.
Mr Ndegwa led a caravan of his supporters in road shows in Witu, Majembeni, Kibaoni and Mpeketoni.
He assured residents that the government had put in place measures to ensure terror-related attacks do not occur during the elections.
“Our security in Lamu has been in jeopardy. We have suffered Al-Shabaab attacks and threats here in Mpeketoni and other areas.
“The target of the Al-Shabaab criminals is to divide the people of Lamu … My major target is to cooperate with the government in enhancing security in Lamu and also ensure the Al-Shabaab menace is ended if you re-elect me for the next five years,” Mr Ndegwa said.
The sentiments were echoed by the retired major, who said his quest is geared towards improving security.
Mr Mohdhar, who worked in the Kenya Defence Forces from 1991 to 2008, said he would use his military experience to ensure the safety of Lamu.
“I have served in the military for more than 20 years,” he said.
“My experience is adequate in as far as security is concerned. My target, once I am elected as senator, is to ensure more resources from the national government are channelled to ensure maximum security for Lamu County and the country at large.”
He said Lamu, being a border county to volatile Somalia, required radical security measures that should be proposed by the Senate.
He insisted that his predecessor had failed to take such action.
Mr Mohdhar pledged to fight for permanent military barracks in Boni Forest and police posts in major towns.
He would also push for the gazettement of the dense forest as a training ground for the military as the only sure way of flushing out the terrorists who have been hiding there.
He also promised to increase the number of police reservists who will be trained and equipped with modern firearms to fight terrorists.
Seven candidates, including three women, are lined up against Mr Ndegwa, who won the seat on a Kenya National Congress (KNC) ticket in 2013 but ditched the party for Safina this year.
The candidates include Mr Rishad Amana (ODM), Mr Abdul Kassim Ahmed (Jubilee Party), Mr Stanley Muthama (Maendeleo Chap Chap), veteran politician and former Local Government assistant minister in the Kibaki administration, Ms Betty Njeri Tett of Democratic Congress (DC), Ms Mary Immaculate Nyaga (Narc-Kenya) and independents Anastasia Mwangi and Anthony Mwaura.
Besides Maj (Rtd) Mohdhar, other candidates in the Senate seat are Mr Anwar Loitiptip, who burst into the limelight when he defeated the incumbent, Senator Abu Chiaba, in the Jubilee Party primaries in April.
Others are Lamu County Assembly Speaker and former Lamu East MP in the Kanu regime, Mr Mohamed Hashim (ANC), former chairman of the defunct County Council of Lamu, Mr Hassan Albeity (Wiper), youthful former Lamu County government Director of Revenue Abdalla Shelali (ODM), Lamu-born Nairobi-based lawyer David Mwaure Waihiga (Agano Party of Kenya) and businessman Abdulrahman Aboud, an independent.