Elders warn politicians against dividing communities
The March 2013 General Elections were preceded by a bloodbath in Tana River County, particularly in Tana Delta Sub County.
The Orma and the Pokomo went for each other’s jugular in a political conflict camouflaged as competition for natural resources – land, water and pasture.
The aftermath was that about 180 people lost their lives while thousands were uprooted from the homes. Some are yet to return.
Among the dead were 10 police officers massacred at Kilelengwani village where they had been deployed to keep peace between the warring communities.
However, the August 2017 General Elections were relatively peaceful as negotiated democracy reigned, with communities coming together for political expedience.
That relative peace and tranquility is now being threatened by political talk and activities more than four years to the August 9, 2022 General Elections (if the constitution is not amended to change the date). It seems the ogre of tribalism is resurrecting in the county.
Four people have already declared their interest in the gubernatorial seat, and they have set their guns blazing, politically speaking.
Incumbent Dhadho Godhana from the Pokomo community is expected to defend the seat even as immediate former governor and now Devolution Chief Administrative Secretary Hussein Dado is keen on recovering the coveted seat he lost to the retired army major.
Others who have already shown interest in the seat are current Bura Member of the National Assembly Ali Wario alias Fayya and immediate former Galole Member of the National Assembly Hassan Dukicha aka Gorfo Kayo.
Danson Mungatana and former Tana River County Assembly Speaker and 2017 gubernatorial election loser, Dr. Nuh Abdi Nasir have not declared their interests yet, but being ambitious politicians, they may be contemplating throwing their hats into the race again.
The appointment of Dado as CAS devolution seems to have complicated matters for Maj (rtd) Dr. Godhana as it has given the former county chief executive a lifeline which could give him an edge over the incumbent.
Tana River County is arguably a county of disasters – droughts, floods and ethnic conflicts. This makes it easier for Dado to endear himself to the electorate again since he is capable of using his current position to mobilize national resources to assist victims and in the process earn political mileage.
The former ambassador to Namibia has already made Devolution Cabinet Secretary, Eugene Wamalwa to fly to the county twice – in February 2018 during drought and in April 2018 during the current floods crisis. The two were appointed to the position on January 26, 2018.
The former governor has also made several separate visits to the county, especially where he still wields political clout (in Wayu, Chifiri, Waldena and parts of Tana Delta), ostensibly to distribute relief supplies to flood victims.
It is alleged that he has been using the relief supply missions as a campaign tool, and in a certain occasion, he has been heard questioning the ability of his successor to feed the residents.
Dado, Wario and Dukicha are from the Orma community and will have to seek the anointing of their community for one of them to face Godhana.
But a section of Orma elders in Wayu Ward, which is predominantly inhabited by the community, think it is too early to start politicking, saying this could heart their wellbeing and lose out on development projects under the current county administration.
They have come out to accuse unnamed political losers in the August 2017 elections of undermining Dr. Godhana’s leadership by using a section of community elders to frustrate the governor’s development agenda.
Led by former Waldena councillor, Dhawa Abdikadir Raba, the elders have accused the unidentified politicians of sabotaging efforts toward improving the lives of the people in the ward.
“We urge the politicians to give Godhana the space he needs to deliver on his promises as frustrating him now could hurt the very people those leaders want to lead in 2022,” Mr. Raba, who served in the defunct County Council of Tana River, says.
“We are hurt by how some political leaders have been using a section of elders to frustrate the current regime. We have put them on notice and are warning them to desist from frustrating Godhana’s agenda of development,” he adds.
Fellow elders Mohammed Bunneh and Ibrahim Ijema concur with him, noting, “The well known politicians are going round inciting people against the current regime.”
Bunneh says a group of politicians has developed a tendency of flying into villages they are ethnically allied to with helicopters to politic and preach ethnicity.
“These leaders hopping from place to place on helicopters and preaching the politics of division and ethnicity should stop forthwith and allow the county government to work for the people of Tana River,” he says.
He claims the said leaders have been inciting the people against Godhana’s regime, telling them to oppose his development agenda with a view to branding him as a failure when his first term ends.
“From his track record when he was Member of Parliament for Galole (2007 to 2013), Godhana was a performer and we believe he should be left alone to serve us,” Bunneh says.
On his part, Governor Godhana says he is aware of such machinations, but says he will not allow cynics to derail his transformational agenda.
“I am aware that they have been going round telling villagers that Tana River has no governor, but let me assure them that I am very much around to help the people of Tana River come out of their miseries,” he says.
“These leaders thrive on ethnic conflicts and do not have the interests of the people at heart. “I will not waste his time politicking with them.
Recently, the governor kicked a storm when he said the local County Assembly was full of demons of tribalism, which should be exorcised to allow Member of the County Assembly (MCAs) to discharge their duties appropriately.
The statements have angered the MCAs with Majority Leader, Ibrahim Salah Adamow, saying the county legislators would discuss the matter and possibly censure the governor.
Adamow says the governor is the lord of tribalism following his nomination of seven out of the 14 chief officer nominees from his Pokomo Community, one of the reasons the MCAs rejected four of the nominees.
By Emmanuel Masha