GARISSA—The politics in Garissa is aligning in such a pattern that Garissa Township legislator, Aden Duale could be the next deciding factor in any line up that will be deemed victorious in the next polls slated for August 2022.
Ahead of the 2017 elections, Duale fell out with the former governor, Nadhif Jama’a. The former Majority Leader of the National Assembly used lack of water in the town to drum up support for the governor’s ouster. All the while, he was grooming the current Garissa governor Ali Korane although their relationship has never been rosy.
He criticised Nathif of failing to provide basic needs, such as adequate clean water and health services, in spite of huge allocations from the national Treasury.
All along, Duale was grooming Korane, a former Permanent Secretary in the Kibaki administration, to replace Nadhif through mobilization of the Abdudwaq and Abdalle clans under the Talamuge alliance. Sensing where the centre of power lay, all political hopefuls gravitated towards Duale as he was seen as decider of County political fate.
Four years later, the same trend is beginning to take shape. Just over two weeks ago, Duale attended a fundraiser where he was the chief guest at a Garissa hotel. More than four elected leaders including the newly crowned Garissa senator, Abdul Duale attended. In political circles, such move is seen approval of sorts from his peers.
Garissa governor Ali Korane and Duale have been at loggerheads since 2019 and have publicly clashed. But in August same year, the two agreed to end “political hostilities.”
In a meeting presided over by Abduwak clan elder Sultan Dekow Maalim and widely snubbed by Members of Parliament and ward representatives, the two said “they have put behind their differences for the sake of development.”
Clan elders from various sub-clans were also invited with hundreds of people jamming the hall at Sultan’s residence.
Since then, the ceasefire sustained until two months ago when the “politics of water” started hitting the headlines alongside photos of women and children struggling with jerrycans in search of water under the scorching sun, a sight reminiscent of the Nadhif era.
“I will end this issue of carrying jerrycans to fetch water,” Governor Korane, then a candidate is on record as saying.
“The sun is hot and the people cannot get water,” said Bashir Sheikh Hassan, a leading cleric in the town during a Friday sermon held in one of the mosques late last month. The comments by the Sheikh renewed calls on Korane to deal with the worsening water problem.
The sheikh further wondered how the resource was unavailable despite “River Tana flowing right in the middle of the town.”
Most of the houses in Garissa are connected to a water piping system that allows the flow of the commodity into their houses, but lately its proving to be hard to get enough supply, and in some neighborhoods, none at all.
“I will end this issue of carrying jerrycans to fetch water,” Korane.
The water topic evokes such a strong feeling in Garissa and has the potential to cause change of guard from the top.
“It caused the downfall of Governor Nadhif and tides are already against the current governor (Korane)” Mohamed Mursal, a local political commentator on several local radio talk shows, observed.
As of now, the local administration is yet to come up with solutions to solve the problem and Duale is already capitalizing on that anger to rally support for Korane ouster.
VOTER MIGRATION & TOWNSHIP FACTOR
Garissa has a cosmopolitan population of over 200,000 people who, during election time, travel to different parts of the county laden with information on how the leaders, particularly the head of the county, performed. They have the power to sway opinion at their respective localities ahead of the polls because they are seen as well informed. The lack of water could deal Korane a blow when their opinion is sought.
Secondly, Garissa Township has more than 54,000 registered voters—the highest in the county. Duale happens to be in Garissa almost every weekend to attend events ranging from marriage ceremonies to Madrasa fundraisers and even at some of the times, the unveiling of enclosed soccer pitches. It’s a unique, influential approach yet to be discovered by other politicians from the area. Farah Maalim, his main contender during the 2027 polls, has not been active since the collapse of the court case challenging his election lose and Korane hardly makes public appearances save for periodic clan endorsement drives that attract select group of people.
During the last elections, Duale ganered close to half the cast votes; giving him the advantage of convincing his supporters against a political camp.
According to several local political observers who spoke to Kulan Post, the migration of voters from Garissa town and his ability to sway voters in Garissa Township makes Duale a figure no politician seeking county seat can afford to ignore.
DUALE 2022 PLANS
Although the vocal Garissa MP has not publicly announced his favourite candidate in the county’s gubernatorial seat next year, he is seemingly grooming candidates from Aulihan clan because of his dalliance with their leadership, a new formation that attracted the attention of Governor Korane.
“Duale and Dahiye (Daadab MP) are nowadays a pair because they are sharing proceeds from a certain road contract commissioned by the President some times back,” Korane said.
Duale is also yet to announce whether he will be defending his Garissa township parliamentary seat in the coming elections. Last week he declared that the incoming polls, unlike the 2017 elections, will be different as “it will no longer be based on clan matrix.”
So far, Botswana ambassador and former two term Lagdera member of parliament and former Governor Nathif Jama from Aulihan clan have declared their intention to wrestle it out with the incumbent, Ali Korane.
Duale was in numerous times accused of hatching plot to remove the county assembly speaker, Ahmed Abass who a lot of people say is in bed with the governor.
While disbursing the bursaries for vulnerable secondary schools students on Saturday last week, Duale asked leaders to be accountable for public funds under their trust and allowed to be scrutinized.
“We will ask for every penny, if you are not ready to be scrutinized, why did you seek elections?” Duale posed to teachers numbering over 100 from schools across his constituency.
Political observers say 2022 elections will lay in bare whether Duale, laden with the influence that comes with leading Garissa Township, will be able to deliver most of the seats in the county as happened in 2017.
~Contributed by Andimalik Hajir