By: YUNIS DEKOW
NAIROBI—Towards the General Elections of 1997, the Jibrail community in Wajir West met to decide their political future: it was time for the clan to clinch the seat of the area Member of Parliament (MP).
The clan, who populated the then larger Wajir West, was feeling left in the struggle to have one of their own represent the constituency at the Parliament in Nairobi. The seat, it appeared, was a reserve for the Rer Mohamud and occasionally, the Ajurans.
Feeling left out, the Jibrail clan set out to identify a candidate. After several considerations, they settled for a young, trained teacher from Ashabito location, presently Rhamu sub-County of Mandera County. They settled for a 27-year old Adan Keynan Wehliye who was still not fortunate to land a job and was running errands for wholesale shop owners in Eastleigh
Broke, inexperienced and largely unknown the clan nominated Keynan as their flag-bearer. He was asked to present himself and the clan would sponsor his campaign. Fueled by undivided clan endorsement, Keynan trounced the late Ahmed Khalif in the 1997 polls, emerging as the winner of the Wajir West parliamentary seat. He won on a Safina party ticket. And as luck would have it, the victory served him a launching pad for a political career that would last more than two decades.
However, his first-term put him in the line of fire. His style of political leadership was tested and the Jibrail clan elders as well as the opinion leaders felt voters were not contended with him. Divided by conflicting interests, section of the clan fronted Ali Mohamed Farah and just that way, the late Ahmed Khalif won back the seat.
A year later, Keynan was arrested for the murder of three Somali nationals—Abraham Ali Abdulle alias Sheikh, Hassan Abdulrahman Mohamed and Mohammed Haji Abdi—whose body were found at Oloolua forest. He was convicted, along others, of murdering the three. According to court documents, Keynan sold the three deceased a parcel of land costing at sh34 million that later turned out to be fake.
After serving for two years, his case was revisited while still serving a jail term. Judge Kalpana Rawala later overturned the previous verdict and set him free. The cost was fundraised by his kinsmen.
Riding on a sense of sympathy, Adan Keynan asked the clan opinion leaders to consider him for the following election, saying the court process had him “exhaust all his resources” and was in “deep debt” according to several people who were present during the meeting that took place at a Nairobi hotel in early 2006. Keynan was, yet again, granted an endorsement that saw him trounce other candidates in the 2007 parliamentary polls.
Between 2007-2012, a consolidated effort by Wajir West leaders including the former Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi caused the split of the massive constituency into two—Wajir West and Eldas constituencies.
The division of the area into two electoral constituencies gave Adan Keynan a fresh new rallying call to further earn his clan support.
“If you elect me as the first Eldas MP, I will represent you knowing that my role in the Parliament is to defend the new-found constituency,” said Keynan during a rally in Eldas town in February, 2013. His argument resonated well with the locals who elected him to parliament on an ODM ticket.
However, in 2017 Keynan faced, for the first time, an uphill task fueled by professionals from the clan who accused the MP of using carrot-and-stick to manage the affairs of the constituency.
“Let this be the last time….I will not seek re-election. I want to defend the constituency from being returned to Wajr West….we have enemies and they are using young men to send their message home,” Keynan pleaded during a meeting at his home in Eldas town months before the 2017 August polls. Although he won the elections, the candidature of his runner-up Ahmed Boray reportedly gave him a taste of what’s to come in 2022.
In the run-up to the 2022 polls, Keynan’s popularity is weighed down by his alliance with the deposed Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi and a growing opposition led by non-political individuals and groups who have leverage over the messaging of his ouster. Apart from his long stay in power, his critics insist the status quo denies others the opportunity to lead and the incorporation of new ideas for growth.
To stop the growing opposition at his backyard, Adan Keynan is accused of threatening his critics with arrest. He is also believed to be behind the implant of guns and munitions in houses and vehicles of those favoring change of leadership.
Osman Adow Issack, a businessman and a critic of Keynan was charged with possession of spent cartridges in his car boot. He denied the charges and is now out on bail. Eldas Professionals Association (EPA) hired a lawyer for Osman. The EPA was formed to protect Eldas locals from politically instigated harassment in the constituency.
In some extreme instances, the MP is accused of using his powers and privileges to drive away those he believes would fuel the campaign to oust him in the next elections. Some of the administration officials who were interdicted after they felll out with him include Elnur and Masalale chiefs.
Other groups Keynan reportedly targets include those who won tenders to render services to the local Constituency Development Funds (CDF).
“If he believes that you are not supporting him or you are found to differ with his political opinion, your payment suddenly delays,” a supplier who was contracted by the Eldas CDF awaiting payment for supply of school equipment dating back to 2018 told Kulan Post in confidence.
Mukhatr Maalim, a journalist and a critics of Keynan said the MP use the local CDF as political tool.
“It’s true. He (Keynan) uses the CDF kitty as his own canteen and does what he wants for his selfish political policies. He also uses this funds to sabotage those who are against his ill-doings in Eldas,” he stated.
Kulan Post reached out to the Eldas MP for comment. After he saw the interview questions, he declined to respond but instead used a fake website bearing the name of “Kulan Post” to malign the writer of the story.
CHANGE OF TACT
The formation of Eldas Professionals Association in 2021 signaled the beginning of a political journey in Eldas. They are made of mainly disgruntled members who want change in the area. Some of the members lost their jobs because of criticizing the MP while others served jail terms in pursuit of change. It’s basically a group that have nothing to lose at Keynan’s disposal. According to people who worked with the longest serving MP from the region, he loathes what he can’t control.
To mount their first challenge, section of the group decided to have one of their own vie for the by-election in Eldas ward after the demise of the incumbent due to suspected Covid-19 complications early July. Keynan pledged that he would deliver the seat unopposed without flinching.
They first started with Jubilee, a party Keynan serves as the Secretary to the Joint Coalition. The candidate bowed out after the MP used the bereaved family to talk him out of the ticket held by Abdi Abass, the younger brother of the late MCA.
Then Keynan heard about UDA party’s plans to field a candidate in the Eldas by-election. Because of his opposing interest with the party leader, he asked Wajir West MP Ahmed Kolosh and nominated senator Nasri Sahal to convince Deputy President William Ruto to drop the idea. A letter was released later in the day indicating the party’s decision not to field a candidate in the by-election.
However, it was not over for the group who were bent on challenging the MP for the local politics. They secretly sought party nominations from People’s Empowerment Party and Chama Cha Kazi. While Keynan was planning a ceremony to parade the Jubilee candidate as unopposed, he received a shocker that other candidates sought clearance with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
One of the candidates, Mohamed Adow Guliye is among the critics of Keynan who spent days in police custody last year. He attempted to vie in the Eldas by-election but dropped his bid after intense campaign by the elders to drop his ambition for the bereaved family. People close to Guliye told Kulan Post that Keynan made “extensive attempt to have him drop his bid” to no avail since Guliye’s candidature was driving a lot of attention to his detractors. True to his fear, the group is now stakeholders in Eldas politics thanks to their effort to champion direct victory for the Jubilee candidate.
“They basically unlocked what he (Keynan) could not begin to undo. Eldas was all about Keynan since 2013. Eldas now has an alternative that reduced him to a team player from a captain,” Warsame Moow commented on Facebook.
As the 2022 elections nears, Keynan who always had enough time to plan for the wider county politics, is now embroiled to defend his space at his own backyard.
“The sun sets after arising in the morning so does the political life of Keynan among the Jibraeel and the Eldas constituency community. 9th August 2021 he will only be a part of Eldas history insha’Allah,” Mukhatr Maalim quipped.