Both Duale and Maalim claim ascendancy for Garissa Township

Both Duale and Maalim claim ascendancy for Garissa Township
By NLM Writer When ODM implored its Garissa Township candidate Nasir Dolal to step down in favour of his Wiper counterpart Farah Maalim, the opposition was sending the clearest sign yet that it was going for incumbent Aden Duale’s jugular on August 8. Duale is the face of the ruling Jubilee coalition not only in the National Assembly, but also in the vast North Eastern region. For the Opposition, winning against Duale has turned not to be a constituency war but one against a regime they are disdainfully dismissive of, a regime they accuse of discriminating against the people of North Eastern. For the National Assembly Majority Leader, his is a two-pronged war: proving that he can hand in the North Eastern votes to President Kenyatta, and most importantly secure his position in the House. In fact, Duale has been tasked with ensuring that Garissa County, which had voted in plurality for Odinga in 2013, as well as the larger North Eastern, is in the bag for Jubilee. Duale insists that he has had a lot to show for his term in office, and his role in the House. “Garissa is today connected to the national grid because of my effort. We have functional street lighting and at least 15 kilometres of tarmacked road among other achievements. We plan to do more,” Duale beams. This, he says, is also exemplified by last year’s ranking of the National Government Constituency Development Fund that placed him at the top in terms of efficient use of the constituency funds. But Maalim, a former House Deputy Speaker, is dismissive of Duale who he says had spent more time “perpetuating the discrimination against our people.” “Let me assure you: This man will lose. The ground has shifted,” says Maalim, now Wiper Democratic Movement Deputy Party leader. Kalonzo Musyoka, Odinga’s running mate and Maalim’s party leader, are even more optimistic. “We are not worried about Garissa. One, Maalim campaigned for Dolal and there are clan dynamics (that work in our favour). Two, the race is about to remove one Duale and we are going to accomplish it,” Musyoka has said in a past interview. But it is the possible effect of a Duale loss that worries Jubilee, and even more the MP himself. Maalim was the Lagdera MP between 2008 and 2013, when he contested the Garissa Senate seat and lost to former Internal Security Minister Yusuf Haji of President Kenyatta’s The National Alliance (TNA) party. In the election, Odinga won the presidential votes in Garissa County with 44, 724 votes (49 per cent) against President Kenyatta’s 41,672 (45 per cent) votes. Nathif Jama of Musyoka’s Wiper Party won the governor seat, while the seven constituencies were shared out with Odinga’s Cord coalition taking four seats and Kenyatta’s Jubilee taking three. The near-balance of the two coalitions, with the opposition now joining hands to oust Duale, further complicates the math for the former Garissa High School student. He will have to sweat it out with an equally formidable opponent. The stakes are even higher for him after the stepping down of the ODM aspirant, and the making of the race for his seat to be an Odinga-versus-Kenyatta duel. Duale still has to contend with not only the question of his incumbency that threatens every sitting politician’s life, but with the nagging questions of what his elevated position in the party and in the House brought forth to the people of Garissa, and by extension, North Eastern. On the flipside…

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