Close chess game for Wajir’s clans negotiated democracy

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021 02:00 |
Former Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi waves to the crowd during the launch of Diif sub-county in Wajir South Constituency. Photo/PD/File

Clan politics and rivalry are taking centre stage in almost all the counties of North Eastern region as each kinship strives to endorse its candidate in what is described as negotiated democracy.

In Wajir County, just like Mandera and Garissa, clans play a central role in the endorsement of candidates. 

In Wajir, politics revolves around the Degodia, Ogaden and Ajuran clans.

Various gubernatorial hopefuls from the Degodia are jostling to be endorsed by elders in anticipation of forming coalitions with their Ogaden and Ajuran counterparts.

Just like in the past elections the contest is arguably between West and East voting blocs with the latter consisting of Wajir East and Tarbaj Constituencies while the former has Eldas and Wajir West voting blocs.

Already, Eldas and Wajir West voting bloc has settled on former Governor Ahmed Abdullahi from Matan sub-clan of Degodia clan to contest for the seat.

Abdullahi, now senior economic adviser on World Bank projects to Treasury Cabinet secretary Ukur Yattani and strong ally of Opposition chief Raila Odinga, is expected to run for the seat he lost in 2017 on the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ticket.

Growing interest

In an interview with People Daily on Wednesday, Abdullahi said despite the growing list of candidates expressing interest in the gubernatorial seat, the final endorsement will be done in December 2021.

“It does not mean necessarily who will be endorsed by their sub-clan will be alone at the ballot because some contenders don’t accept the verdict of the elders, but their nod is not a finality, its democratic process at the ballot that decides,” Abdullahi said.

Abdullahi, alias ‘Jiir’went on: “My record speaks for itself and I believe Wajir county went literally from grace to grass, it was pretty much the showcase for what’s good in devolution because we achieved so much in the five years we were in office.

Abdullahi has pledged to revive hope and correct the mistakes by his predecessor ex-governor Mohamed Abdi saying that he will fully bring back the dreams of Wajir people and further deliver service delivery to all as per expectations.

If elected, he has promised to improve the dilapidated healthcare system, by constructing more health facilities, improved road network, building more boreholes in addition to the 162 drilled his regime constructed.

Abdullahi intends to prioritise education which he termed as a powerful weapon that can change a society and breed hope and confidence for the future.

As the 2022 contest fast approaches, the Fai community which one of the majority sub-clans among the Degodia of Wajir, is expected to avoid a black clash on its sultanate political process where the candidate they endorsed had to withdraw for ambassador Mohamud who was not the favorite among the Fai elites.

Sub-clan rivalries

In 2013, an alliance of the Degodia, Arujan and Ogaden delivered victory by bagging the governorship, deputy, Senator and women representative seats. The Fai sub-clan snatched the coveted governor’s seat from its counterpart, Matan sub-clan.

There is growing debate on the candidate the Fai community will pick after former Governor Mohamed Abdi Muhamed of Jubilee party was impeached for incompetence, abuse of office and violation of the constitution.

Members of the Fai clan have been convening in various forums in an effort to plan how to field a candidate who will be acceptable to all clans and prevent a possible fallout.

Potential names that have been touted from the Fai community include Ugas Sheikh Mohamed who dropped his ambition twice to back Mohamed Abdi in 2013 and 2017.

He was on July 12 endorsed to contest for the seat at family meeting that elders said was a culmination of a series of consultations with local leaders.

“As a community, we have unanimously agreed to have Ugas Sheik as our sole candidate for the governor seat.

Going forward, we will rally our communities to back him. We will also ask him to reach out to other communities residing in the county for support,” the elders said in a joint declaration read by Sultan Najib Ugas, Ugas Sheikh Abdi and Ugas Sheikh Abdullahi.

According to the elders, the endorsement was done ‘in the best interest of the larger Maalim Rerow Gedi community and the people of Wajir County’

 “I want to sincerely thank the elders and my larger community for giving me one more chance.

Now I can go looking for votes from other communities knowing well that I have those from my community under lock and key,” Ugas said after the endorsement.

 “I’m honoured and pleased to announce that today (July 12) in a special family gathering, I was officially endorsed for the Wajir gubernatorial seat in the forth coming general elections,” he tweeted.

If the Ugas endorsement holds, the Fai will have to forgo the Wajir East constituency seat held by Rashid Amin to forestall a rift with Masare clan.

Amin has indicated that is he is keen to defend his position and will have to fight out former National Social; Security Fund (NSSF) board chairman Aden Daud.

On the day Ugas was endorsed by elders, Hassan Wehliye, a governance and anti-corruption expert, who is seeking to make his debut in politics was also endorsed by splinter groups of elders at a ceremony held only stone’s throw away in Dasheg, Tarbaj Constituency. 

The two have not indicated the party on which they will contest the seat. Wehliye termed the coronation event as one that “brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow”.

Others in the race for Wajir gubernatorial contest include Nairobi South Hospital proprietor Dr Hassan Mohamed and Environment CAS and former Tarbaj MP Mohamed Elmi who is  also said to be eyeing the seat though he is yet to declare. 

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