Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Wednesday, 29 Mar 2017 15:33 EAT
As another election approaches, the political future of the Somali community will once again dominate the agenda of the rival political camps. With three exclusive counties in North Eastern region and a large diaspora, Somalis are indeed a huge vote bloc.
In the first three multiparty elections, the community voted massively for Kanu, but since 2007 we have become sort of a bellwether bloc. In 2007 and 2013, Somalis shared their votes almost evenly between the two leading presidential contenders. Thus, in 2013, President Uhuru Kenyatta led by huge margins in Mandera County but trailed CORD leader Raila Odinga in Wajir and Garissa.
Heading into the second election in the era of devolution, however, the Somali people’s choice is crystal clear. The vast majority of us are decisively in the Jubilee Party and are determined to support President Kenyatta’s re-election. This choice, which has been observable for years, continues to be cemented by defection to the ruling party by our leaders who have remained in the opposition.
Any well-informed Kenyan will understand the interplay between the Somali community’s support for the Jubilee government and our increased assertiveness in various spheres of national life. This administration more than any other has given our community its rightful share of the national cake.
To put things into perspective, let me acknowledge that these five years have been harsh economically for most Kenyans. Increased globalization and climate change have claimed many victims in our country, coupled with the effects of long periods of drought, reduced agricultural output, unemployment and change to a new system of government, which combined to spawn levels of corruption never seen before in Kenya.
The government has grappled with these challenges to varying degrees but I’ll address its effort as it regards the Somali community. In five years, this administration has initiated and ensured the completion of major infrastructure projects including roads and electricity that our region never saw in fifty years of independence.
These include the Isiolo-Moyale road which is transforming business in the northern corridor. Construction work is ongoing on the Elwak-Rhamu, Odda-Bute-Danaba, and Garissa-Modagashe roads. Also under construction is the Bute Dam, the largest infrastructural project in the entire North Eastern that will provide water for irrigation and domestic use by millions in the region.
The Garissa-Wajir national power project is in the pipeline while the Mwingi-Garissa line is complete, and is helping offset the astronomical generator costs that militated against the competitiveness of businesses in Garissa town and its environs.
Under Jubilee, the Somalis have seen an unprecedented number of senior appointments, with more cabinet members than some big tribes. President Kenyatta recognizes that a marginalized community like ours can never progress unless its youths have role models from within. From Wajir County alone, the president appointed 10 professionals to boards of state agencies, two as ambassadors, two as members of constitutional commissions and two as principal secretaries.
This rapid infrastructural transformation is comparable only to the social progress we realised early in President Moi’s presidency when the Somali community’s sons rose to the top echelons of the civil service after a period of horrible margninalisation.
The emergence of Somali professionals like General Mohamed Mohamud and Yusuf Haji to top civil service jobs, and Maalim Mohamed to a cabinet position, catalyzed advances in education that stimulated the community’s development for the next generation.
Notwithstanding grave financial and political challenges, President Kenyatta’s record speaks for itself to our people. His superiority over the opposition in this election isn’t merely due to what he has done for Somalis. This administration has worked well with all our neighbours, a feat that as a border region we don’t take for granted.
By contrast, the opposition has shifted its positions on national affairs based on the exigencies of the day. They support the war against corruption but look the other side whenever their members are implicated in the vice. They want devolution to work well but won’t raise a finger against improprieties in the counties they control.
What the opposition has perfected is encouraging its governors to despise the president, as has been evident in Mombasa, Kilifi and Turkana counties. With the pressing developmental needs of Wajir County, we can’t afford such superfluity for another five years.
As Jubilee leaders of Wajir, we have coalesced a team which includes former ambassador Mohamed Mohamud, our governorship candidate, and will do everything in our power to ensure Jubilee victory in Wajir on August 8.
The writer is a medical doctor, former two-time MP for Wajir North (1997-2007), and the Jubilee Party candidate for Wajir senate seat in the upcoming general elections.