Wajir Senator Abdullahi Ali Kabreta’s entry into the gubernatorial race has sent shockwaves throughout the county. Political analysts, elders, youth groups and even women leaders say that Dr Kabreta’s entry into the race will change the power dynamics in Wajir and set the county on a whole new pedestal of leadership where personal credentials and not clan determine the winner.
The Ajuran clan, from which Dr Kabretar hails, has fully welcomed his bid. The former two-term MP for Wajir North has also won endorsement from political actors from other clans with whom he has worked closely over the years.
His declaration to run for the seat at the Sir Ali Muslim club in Nairobi was graced by elders from the Ajuran nation, his long-time supporters and members of his campaign secretariat. At the event, Dr Kabreta said he was answering to widespread appeals from common wanainchi from the community who asked him to go for the position.
“We are here because Kabreta is a man we can be trust. He is an elder, not corrupt and has a rich track record from all the government agencies where he has served. He is also a peace-broker, a honest and rational leader who has deep connections nationally,” said one speaker to huge applause.
Another speaker described Dr Kabreta as a member of the ‘Deep State’, paying tribute to his immense networks made over the years since his earliest employment in the government as a medical doctor. “If we need some who can restore sanity in Wajir, here is the man,” he said.
Dr Kabreta’s rich resume includes his first employment as a medical doctor. Later, he became a two-term Member of Parliament for Wajir North, Commissioner of the Parliamentary Service Commission and eventually Senator of Wajir from 2017. He is by all accounts one of the most senior politicians in the region, and is reputed to be a close ally of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
In the politics of the Ajuran community, Dr Kabreta has a huge political influence and is respected by both elders and local politicians from the community. After the launch, ARF Media interviewed the senator on his bid and Wajir politics at his KICC offices. Excerpts are below:
1. What’s the rationale behind your joining the Wajir gubernatorial contest?
Sen. Kabreta: First, I’m the people’s project. I’m not a project of the politicians, the state or a few individuals who may be pushing me to the position. The people themselves said that I should run, believing that I fit the bill for bringing the good governance that our citizens require. I am committed to make the best use of devolved resources in Wajir for the betterment of our people’s lives.
Q2. Do you have the support of the Ajuran Nation?
Sen. Kabreta: Of course. If elections were held today, I would garner 100 per cent of the votes from the men and women from the land of the hills. But I am also well respected beyond our clan. Democracy requires that leaders must get support from a cross-section of their jurisdiction and I believe my manifesto will win hearts from beyond the Ajuran nation.
Q3. The politics of North Eastern is based on clan politics. How will you get the votes from other communities when they also have their own candidates?
Sen. Kabreta: That’s a very good question. As you realise, many candidates have declared their bids and at this moment many of them are being judged on their own credentials. Even in some of the clans that have more than one candidate, the voters are vetting all the candidates, with some wishing that they had much better options on the table. I am from Wajir and have done my politics over the last 25 years. I know and have good contacts with elders, professionals and leaders from other communities. For me to become a senator, I was voted by the three larger communities from Wajir and corner tribes.
Q4. Being a medical doctor by professional, how would you tackle health matters which at the moment are quite challenging in Wajir?
Sen. Kabreta: This one is very simple. First, devolution is a blessing to the Kenyans particularly the Somali community which was marginalised for many years. In Wajir, the allocation to health sector in this year alone was more than one billion shillings. That is enough money to make a huge impact if you utilise properly. The governor is the CEO of the county so you start by appointing men and women with competence, integrity and experience to run the affairs of the Wajir Afya House, Wajir Referral Hospital and other health institutions. In my administration, all blame will end at the Governor’s office. My election manifesto will provide a very clear roadmap on how to achieve that.
Q5. If elected, how will you ensure a balanced representation of all the communities in Wajir?
Sen. Kabreta: I’m a liberal and free thinker, an elder and senior-most politician in the region. My conscience will not allow me to run a tribal government. I will build an inclusive government that everyone will agree with. That’s the only way to ensure that the government serves everyone fairly.