Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Saturday, 08 Apr 2017 17:28 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
Today's visit by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto to Wajir County marked a turning point in the region's politics ahead of the August 8 general elections. After some leaders addressing the meeting faced a hostile audience, the president's supporters conducted a long overdue review of their campaign strategies that will define Jubilee Party's campaign in the entire North Eastern region.
The president and his deputy were accompanied by leader of majority in the national assembly Aden Duale, cabinet secretaries Najib Balala of Tourism, Adan Mohamed (Trade), Eugene Wamalwa (Water) and Cecily Kariuki (Public Service), several principal secretaries and other top government officials.
Their initial plan to give indepth presentations on Jubilee's projects in the region was shelved in favour of a short meeting where aspirants and elected leaders spoke briefly about their commitment to the party, with many highlighting their reasons for supporting the president. Several leaders from Wajir County who recently defected to Jubilee Party were also officially received to the party.
During the speeches at the historic Orahey Grounds, Hon Abass Sheikh Mohamed, the only Jubilee elected Member of Parliament from Wajir County, requested the president to have more teachers deployed to Wajir to help improve educational standards. He also appealed to the president to ensure compensation for victims of wildlife attacks, informing the head of state about periodic conflict between people and wild animals in the region. He also asked the government to open a new border point in order to boost trade across the Somalia border.
Wajir North MP Ibrahim Saney, who was elected on ODM, assured the president that Jubilee Party will garner votes from Wajir North constituency. Likewise, Eldas MP Adan Keynan, also s recent ODM defector who is the chief strategist behind Jubilee’s aggressive campaign in the region, assured the president that Wajir County will be a Jubilee zone and no more for opposition.
Mr Keynan requested the president to open what he called a big market in the region for trade purposes. He also requested for the development of a stadium, which he proposed to be named after the president, to host games. He requested the president to address challenges of accessibility of water particularly in Wajir Town.
The MP played host for most of the meeting, and he used his speaking opportunity to pass messages to the president at different times. He requested the president to give more job opportunities to the people of Wajir. Mr Keynan, however, faced hostile youths who chanted slogans in support of NASA and ODM, nearly disrupting the rally.
Mr Duale said the Jubilee administration had stood with the people of Wajir despite their having voted for the opposition in 2013 by giving them top-level public appointments including as ambassadors and permanent secretaries. Others who were present and gave assurance to the president's re-election were Nominated Senator Halima Abdille, Wajir West MP Abdikadir and Tarbaj MP Mohammed Elmi.
Also addressing the rally were aspirants currently holding no political offices. Dr Abdullahi Ali Kabreta, who is running for the senate seat, said the president is a long time friend of his since the Kanu era and that he had always supported the president every time, including in this election. He said the Jubilee administration had changed the life of Kenyans and that President Kenyatta deserved a second term.
Jubilee gubernatorial candidate Ambassador Mahamud Abdi and other aspirants for various seats were not allowed to address the gathering, but only greeting them. Ambassador Abdi said he had worked with President Kenyatta and his deputy Ruto for years and he trusted them fully with the country's leadership.
Another gubernatorial aspirant, Ahmed Mohamed Hassan, who is running on PDR party, said his party would fully support the president. Mr Hassan was accompanied by his running mate Abdihafid Abdullahi. They won a major recognition when the president personally paid tribute to PDR, saying he would support whoever the people elected, be they in Jubilee Party or PDR.
Jubilee Party politicians in a group photo before the rally.
Ambassador Mahamud and other aspirants for various seats were reported to have held a meeting to review the outcome of the president’s visit and plan a new strategy for reaching the voters. A local political analyst told this website that Jubilee Party's apparent challenges were due to the unpopularity of some ODM defectors, including Mr Keynan.
"Jubilee has identified most of its candidates for the seats, including all ODM defectors who have been assured of direct tickets. This has caused disharmony in many constituencies where some aspirants who had remained loyal to the party feel they have been overlooked in favour of defectors," the analyst said, explaining such differences will emerge in other parties including CORD once they do their nominations.
Speaking after the rally, Sultan Najib Ugas told the Kenya Free Press that residents of Wajir would rally behind the Jubilee Party and vote for its candidates starting with President Kenyatta down to the MCAs.