Editor’s Note: With the promulgation of a new constitution for the Republic of Kenya, the political landscape of North Eastern Province, a region dominated by Kenya-Somalis, is about to change. What was once Garissa District has now become Garissa County. Among the political aspirants for the position of Governorship is Mr. Ali Bunow Korane, a figure who is well revered in the region. Adan Makina conducted the interview for WardheerNews.
WardheerNews (WDN): Mr. Korane, can you briefly tell us about your background?
Ali Bunow Korane (ABK): I am a son of Garissa County with 25 years government experience at administrative, policy, and security management levels. I have various certificates, Diplomas, three academic degrees; one Bachelor and two Masters and currently pursuing a Masters in Business Administration (MBA).
WDN: Could you please give us specific information on the circumstances that led you to run for the position of governor for Garissa County?
ABK: The concept of a devolved government is a new one mooted under the recently promulgated constitution. The setting up of a government at the county level will face a number of challenges. While the challenges to be faced by the counties are common for all the 47 counties nationwide, the pastoralist counties of which Garissa is one will face tremendous challenges. Among these are:
- The counties are already victims of low intensity wars over resources and these will be exacerbated by the new contest for positions and resources allocation.
- Clan structures and family allegiance have overtime emerged as the strongest basis for political mobilization. The resultant stiff competition for positions and resources will likely further marginalize minority clans and others often classified as peripheral and corner tribes groupings.
- Weak and ineffective institutional capacity, the low levels of education and the migration of the professional class to Nairobi has left the local leadership in the hands of semi-literate mediocre individuals.
- Poor infrastructure, large land mass, environmental degradation and clan settlement patterns will generally pose serious challenges thus compromising the process of political mobilization.
To address these challenges I believe requires a leadership with the requisite experience in government, management and above all a clear understanding of the people and their aspiration. After careful reflection I have concluded I am the right person for the challenging governor’s job.
WDN: In the past, district leadership was based on nomination by the decree of the president, recently that system has changed. What can you tell us about the current system of electing the governor?
ABK: The Governor under the new constitution will be elected by the whole of Garissa County as a single constituency. Once elected he/she will be the executive, administrative, and political head of the county government. He/she will be assisted by a County Executive Committee (cabinet) appointed by him/her and approved by an elected county assembly. The county government will be independent in its operations and will not be subordinate to the National government.
WDN: How many candidates are currently listed to run for the post, and do they represent various parties or they are independent?
ABK: Although there are three individuals who have so far indicated interest in the seat, this is not entirely indicative of the final number of candidates when election comes next year. Candidates can run as party members or as independents.
WDN: What is your political party?
ABK: I am in the party of National unity which is a coalition of many parties. It is likely that this party will transform into another alliance of parties closer to election.
WDN: Kenya is considered one of Africa’s largest economy and East Africa’s economic powerhouse, yet the Somali inhabited region is lagging behind the rest of the country. What do you think are causes of the lack of progress and development in Kenya’s North Eastern province?
ABK: North Eastern Kenya has had a sad history of marginalization in both pre and post independence periods of Kenya’s history. This is due to a combination of factors including oppressive government policies; poor leadership, environmental factors and perennial low intensity inter clan resource conflicts, among others.
WDN: Why is it that the concerns and interests of the Ethnic Somalis were not voiced, particularly when there are many Kenya-Somalis in the high ranks of government?
ABK: Somalis have occupied two levels of senior positions in the Kenya Government. These were at political and civil service levels. At the civil service levels they were policy implementers mainly serving other Kenyans in parts outside North Eastern Kenya. It was the responsibility of elected political leaders to influence government policy towards the Somalis. Unfortunately they failed to deliver on this score.
WDN: If you were to be elected governor, how are you going to enhance the growth of the county notably by eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and educating the mass, combating diseases and violation of human rights, developmental and self-sufficiency programs?
ABK: The social situation in the county is very grave on any measure of human development. The extreme poverty level, currently estimated at 71% of the population negatively affects every aspect of life. There have also been large scale human rights abuses by the security forces over the years. I am determined to make my contribution in reversing the suffering of our people.
WDN: How will you create peace and harmony and advance inter-county partnership among people who have been separated by self-interest politics ever since independence and the sweeping martial law?
ABK: Without peace and inter clan harmony there can be no meaningful development in the county. The source of conflict is two fold: Politics and environmental. Also, we see conflicts created by political incitement and those created by competition for scarce resources. I will deal ruthlessly with any opportunistic political inciters and introduce measures to mitigate against environmental factors.
WDN: What commitments will you make to save women and children and the environment of the county you are vying for?
ABK: In any hardship social situation, the greatest suffering goes to the women and children. In our county the effects of extreme poverty, poor access to education and health and conflicts have been felt most by our women and children. My heart bleeds for them and I am determined to improve their situation if elected.
WDN: How will you empower young professionals who completed high schools and colleges to either get jobs or advance their education?
ABK: Since independence our region was left behind in education. Fortunately, our people have now appreciated the value of education and are making efforts to educate their children under difficult circumstances. Unfortunately these positive efforts have coincided with times of serious unemployment. I will endeavor to support the efforts of the parents by introducing generous bursaries, sponsorships, and employment creation initiatives.
WDN: Recent Kenya census indicated growth of ethnic Somalis, yet Garissa which is among the biggest cities in Kenya and the largest in the Somali inhabited region does not have a university. To expand the opportunity of higher education, does your plan include establishing the first university in North Eastern Kenya? Or in other words, why has a university with remarkable faculties not been established in North Eastern Kenya?
ABK: The failure to establish a fully fledged university in North Eastern is part of the many policy failures, neglect, and marginalization by successive Kenya governments. As governor I am determined to reverse this policy. I have in the past immensely contributed to the development of education in the county. I spearheaded the establishment of public secondary schools, established the first private elementary school in the county, recently opened the first private girl’s high school and intend to build a boys high school and a college this year. With this firm foundation in education, I am determined to establish the first public university in Garissa county.
WDN: Good luck Mr. Ali Buno Korane in your political endeavors and thanks for giving WDN your precious time.
ABK: Thanks WDN for giving me the time to share with you my views and ideas.
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