The illusion of Clan numbers and the role of perceptions

By NepJournal July 4, 2017 12:55

By Ahmedsulub Haji
While the opinion polls continue to deliver bad news for the Nathif government, it’s only survival is cling false perceptions about his strongest opponent! It’s true that despite a sharp decline in his political fortunes since his surprise winning of the 2013 gubernatorial race, Nathif political fortunes aren’t in the dwindling axis but rather on a promising trend. And here is why.
Exactly a year ago, I predicted in an opinion piece in the NEP journal that Amb. Korane was the man to beat. In the same piece, I also predicted that incumbent governor of Garissa County Gov. Nathif was history and had no fighting chance owing to his poor record in office. As the election train strolls in town for the August 2017 elections, one thing is certain and that’s Amb. Ali Korane remains favourite to win the race but governor Nathif is no longer easily dispensable. He is down but not entirely out. What this means is that he has fighting chance and can resurrect his political fortunes. But for this to happen, the governor needs to pull a serious strategy to resuscitate his political fortunes.
Let’s begin with what happened between then and today to warrant a review of my previous analysis. Amb. Korane has managed to contain fall out within his backyard but not without serious misgivings in Mbalabala, Fafi and Garissa Township where he is seen in some quarters within the larger Awthaq as having a dog in the race for parliamentary & MCA races. This claim might not be a true reflection on the part of the candidate Korane but perception is a powerful tool in politics. And the slightest trepidation in rebutting this act is the biggest mistake a political candidate can make. Essentially, perception is easy a commodity to sell in the political market.
And then there’s the bombshell that’s Women MP dilemma. If Amb. Korane goes along with the idea of 3-piece voting pattern for the 3 county offices; he is a political cadaver. And will remain, the governor Garissa has never had. The sooner he can tag off the Jubilee nominee for Women MP the better his chances are.
Added to this political quagmire is the fact that Ijara constituency which I had originally called for Amb. Korane is no longer safe electoral unit. This is because Ijara has its own son in the race for the gubernatorial race and like every other Somali community, folks in Ijara are not immune to clan dynamics. In nutshell, Although Korane comes from the larger Talamuge community, so is Gen Bashir. But the retired general is first Samawadhal and so are the people of Ijara sub-county. And in the minds of Ijara folks, their son/s are first theirs before others. The bookies and punters can place their bets on this but not me. I know the winning horse in Ijara. On the hand, Gov. Nathif has managed to remain neutral in his backyard of Daadab and Lagdera. Even Jubilee honchos like Hon.Shidiye are voting and vouching for Gov. Nathif.
An unpopular Nathif has found a way to be popular again. Gov. Nathif is not the most popular candidate for the office of governor. If anything, the opposite is true. However, he has just found a way to be popular again. And this is not by design but rather a strategic fumble on the part of his strongest challenger.
But if he has a serious shot at second term, clues are to be found in how Amb. Korane’s election machine is managed. And if the current trend continues, you might have just handed Gov. Nathif a second term in office. A reality I cannot personally gulp.
However, the most perplexing aspect of this debate is the fact Gov. Nathif has a fighting chance! This is man who has squandered 30 billion shillings in revenue stream from the national government. Despite this astronomical budgetary allocation from the national exchequer, devolution is a failed concept in Garissa; thanks to the man we have put in charge of our devolution agenda. And perhaps the white elephant in the room is how Talamuge alliance was mooted, managed, and subsequently sold to the Garissa masses.
Or maybe it has something to do with Amb. Korane failing to take ownership of his candidature. Again, perception is a powerful tool in politics. This is because, Korane is seen first as a candidate from his community rather than one that is after personal aspirations. I think this is unfair characterization on the man. His detractors have managed to create an impression that he is pursuing community aspirations over personal political ambition. Nonetheless, it is only the candidate that can cast these smears aside. Pundits like me can only highlight them. How else we explain the incumbent governor’s extraordinary chances of political survival is beyond my imagination.
But all is not lost; and here’s how?
All these issues might come and go but as far as the political barometer is concerned, two things have remained persistent. And that’s Gov. Nathif is a total failure and Amb. Korane is still the favourite to win the race. But preference alone do not win elections. Strategy and sound policy commitments do. If you’re prepared the risk of facing a fully loaded gun barrel and going hunting with the baggage of perception; then just do that but remain acquainted with the factors reviving Nathif’s political fortunes or else demystify these perception and challenge Nathif on his record. How do you do this? Hit the local media outlets especially vernacular radio stations and provide a rebuttal to these perceptions. Move to the centre, do away with 3-piece voting pattern and you will be in the history books of Garissa county for good reasons.
When it comes to policy and performance, the residents cannot afford another five years of Nathif administration.
As Nathif political fortunes continues to lift in the minds of the people, he is going to start promising us heaven again like he did in 2013 while he is consolidating his base. For Amb. Korane, how do you respond to this rhetoric. Just remind the people of Garissa County that, to date, Nathif’s failures that have cost the people of Garissa just shy of 30 billion shillings and that there’s a legacy of day to day crisis of water shortage, poor health facilities, pilling garbage in Garissa. While Gov. Nathif would tell Garissians ‘elect me, and that he would really this time deliver the heaven he promised in 2013, tell the people it won’t happen, and show them to the facts.
Amb. Korane’s recent found humility might skew things a bit but that’s as far as they can go. However, devising sound policy commitments and highlighting the incumbent poor record in office will roll you into the governor’s office. Hope and policies which respond directly to the challenges of the people amid a resurgent but rather failed administration are the best antidote to cynical voters.

The writer is a Policy and Political Analyst.

The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessary reflect those of Nep Journal. Send you opinion pieces to


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By NepJournal July 4, 2017 12:55

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