Unity and social cohesion is a major achievement of Governor Ali Korane
By HASSAN MALIK MOHAMED
Detestable clan rivalries and accompanying political asperities have been a major wellspring of disunity among residents of Garissa county for so long. Sometimes the bad blood between the various clans resulted into flaming conflicts that left behind trails of killings and destruction.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) listed the county among 33 election violence hotspots in the country ahead of last year’s general election. Nevertheless, this political cloud has been commendably unstayed after ambassador Ali Bunow Korane assumed the gubernatorial mantle.
Being a career administrator with previous experience in the military and lately as a special envoy for peace in the Horn of Africa region, the governor firstly made it unequivocally clear during the campaign season that he wouldn’t brook the cultural status quo of clannism whose normality was dangerous and degrading.
For starters, Garissa county is generally multi- ethnic. But there are three Somali clans that are predominantly residing, namely the Abuduak, Auliyahan and Samawadhal. The three are offshoots of the Ogaden ancestry which makes them brothers on a wider scope.
However, historically, the three communities have been disagreeable to each other. So, from his heart of hearts, governor Ali Korane knew it would be hard to economically develop the area without first confronting this social hot water head-on. And dead right he was, because as the former Egyptian President Anwar Saddat once said, “There can be hope only for a society which acts as one big family, not as many separate ones.”
Truth be told, unfortunately, the previous county government under Hon. Nadhif Jama Adam had a significant weakness concerning social cohesion which further complicated the problematic issue of clannism. The Abuduak clan that invariably had much clout in the politics of Garissa county prior to the commencement of devolution for instance, largely missed out from the county’s decision- making tables. Meanwhile it was merriment for the other two Ogaden clans of Auliyahan and Samawadhal who took the position of governorship and deputy governor respectively in a 50-50 traditionary power sharing deal.
Development going to areas principally inhabited by members of the Abuduak clan were equally inadequate and belated. The result being that it did little to assuage the clan from feeling sidelined by the very corporate body that was purposefully instituted by the Constitution of Kenya 2010 as a redress for past inequities and marginalization.
Then a tragic conflict occurred more than once in an outlying area of the county known as ‘Qabobey’ during that infancy stage of devolution in what seemed to be a buildup of the clan supremacy battle between members of Auliyahan clan who joyously felt proximity to power and their Abuduak counterparts who appeared outermost . What a wrong way it was to begin devolution!
Governor Korane auspiciously took a different approach altogether after his election by extending an olive branch to all his competitors and thereupon also began to reach out to various communities in a determined move to create unity and social cohesion. It was particularly disarming when he started the healing work with the clan of his predecessor Mr Jama whereby it was resolved that differences between the Abuduak clan (Korane hails from the Abuduak clan) and Auliyahan had to end forthwith and attention to go to peacebuilding and development of the county for the ‘good of all’.
Noteworthy to mention here is the fact that there was a palpable fear among some Auliyahan that if Mr Ali Korane became governor they would be oppressed and denied their rights, a fictitious scare that partly informed the intense pre-election propaganda that was aimed at dissuading voters from electing him. Through, that fruitful meeting with the clan elites and elders shortly following his victory, the preconception become untenable.
Korane’s government has also adopted a more balanced approach to job appointments and development projects. Apart from having considerable presence in the executive, the critical human resource position of Chairperson of Garissa County Public Service Board (GCPSB) for example, has gone to madam Ebla Europe Sahal who is an Auliyahan. The development tours of the county chief have as well been pleasantly balanced and characterized by very warm reception from people regardless of their progenitors.
I guess what has come in handy for governor Korane so far is that he had long ago studied the failures of the previous government with a desire to turn around things. His colossal experience on the whys and how’s of public service has also given him a head start. No wonder he carries himself more as a technocrat than a politician. In fact, Mr korane has publicly stated in the past that he does not consider himself as a politician.
His action- oriented style of leadership is now causing discomfort in some local, power- hungry politicians who have seen that the governor may easily secure a second term if he keeps the current momentum of peacebuilding and development going. They have now resorted to forming a tacit alliance of political saboteurs whose work is to discredit the governor. To these forces of darkness, leadership is but a chance to get more wealth and clapping crowd which is what Machakos governor Alfred Mutua once described as the essence of the “politics of poverty”.
I, therefore, urge the governor to continue with his commendable peacebuilding and development efforts and not get distracted or discouraged by the machinations of political busybodies and opportunists who are out there to curtail and derail his noble agenda for the people. Residents should also support the work of remaking our county and shame, shun and spurn the purveyors of hatred and political retrogression.
Mr Mohamed comments on sociopolitical issues.