By Farah Adan:
Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow has heaped praise on Tarbaj MP Mohamed Elmi, popularly known as Fai for his positive contribution to the lives of the people of Northern Kenya.
Kerrow said when the former aid worker approached him in 2006 to discuss politics, he did not divulge much but sought to know more on politics and whether he was himself making an impact.
“At the time, he was the head of Oxfam International in the Eastern Africa region. He had just come back from Jijiga and was keen to share with me efforts being made by his organization to assist pastoralists in the region to reduce conflicts. Then he sought to know how politics was and whether I was having an impact in the development of my constituency” said Kerrow.
Having known him since 1976, Kerrow added Fai did not particularly strike him as being a political animal.
“A few months later, he again came over. This time he was more explicit; is it possible to have an impact on the lives of the electorates if one joined politics? I now knew his intention. My answer was political – it depends on the individual leader!” said the Mandera Senator.
Mohamed Fai went on to contest in the 2007 elections and became the MP for Wajir East. He was later appointed Minister for Northern Kenya in the Grand Coalition government.
He sought re-election in 2013 but moved base to the newly created Tarbaj constituency which was hived off from the larger Wajir East but has shocked many when he declared he won’t seek a third stint in parliament.
Fai has also refuted claims he was eyeing the Wajir Gubernatorial seat in 2022 in a recent public event in the county instead saying he would have done that now if he was at all interested.
He is however the force behind his Family’s negotiated democracy that has seen former Wajir East MP and Kenya’s Saudi Arabia Envoy Mohamed Abdi Mohamud selected as the Fai family’s preferred candidate to unseat the incumbent Wajir governor Ahmed Abdullahi.
Mohamed Fai, together with several other local leaders, is widely credited with the successful election of Abdullahi in 2013 but the two leaders fell out in the early years of the county administration.
Fai’s retirement from politics and his support for the clan verdict attracted Kerrow’s admiration and praise.
“He has now opted to retire from politics voluntarily. And just like me, he has opted to throw his weight behind negotiated democracy and has pursued efforts to strengthen the institution of his local Council of Elders whose line-up in our Jubilee party is all set to lead the county government come 2017 general elections” said the Mandera Senator.
But even as he celebrates Fai’s political sojourn, the Mandera Senator highlighted his colleague’s courage to voluntarily from politics saying he has set the bar very high for servant leadership.
“His example should encourage our politicians to rethink their unbridled greed to hang on to power even when the writing is on the wall” said Kerrow in what seems to be a direct reference to Mandera Governor Ali Roba who has broken ranks with his clan elders’ wish to have him rested from politics in favor of another candidate.
The Garre Council of elders endorsed former Provincial administrator Hassan Noor Hassan in Roba’s place leading to a rift in the family.
One side is led by Roba and has several other MPs who were also dropped by the Council. They identify themselves as Firfirsa.
Kerrow leads the pro council of elders faction under the banner Tokkuma.
His celebration of his colleague is a rare gesture from politicians.