As you take a walk around Isiolo town, for the past few months- you will see writings captioned “KUTI MUST GO!!!” On your way to Isiolo CBD, past the Kambi ya Juu – Mukuu junction, at the Mukuu bodaboda shade- are the first writings, painted in red on a white sack lining. A few meters from the shade is Kasarani Market, opposite the Isiolo Stadium, where you meet similar writings.
This are yet to be the only two sightings in town. Many motorcycle and shoe-shining shades Inside Isiolo CBD have been branded with similar messages. The mere sight of these writings gets one thinking, why the message? Why now?
Just like any other part of the country political waves have hit Isiolo county, with different factions out to out-play each other.
I spoke to a resident at one of the shades (who sought anonymity). He told me that ‘they’ (residents) feel neglected, adding that they have low trust with the current county government. He says that they have now chosen to direct their emotions to the county boss.
“We are tired of how the county government is neglecting the young people especially us – bodaboda riders. We need to see change and we are tired of empty promises given by the county government,” he said.
The long reigning leader?
Governor Mohamed Abdi Kuti, represented the Isiolo North Constituency in the national assembly for 10 years (2003-2013) Kuti previously served as the senator for Isiolo County for one term (2013–2017) and later on August 23, 2017, he ascended to the gubernatorial position of Isiolo County.
In approximately 19 years of his leadership, the incumbent governor has been the ‘esteemed leader’ to many of his electorates. However, the situation seems to change in the recent past.
How did it get here?
In the last term when governor Kuti served as the Isiolo county senator, he was accused of being an absentee leader in numerous occasions. He would later re-surface and publicly ask the residents to pardon his absence and grant him another term as the governor. True to his plea, he was elected back as the county boss.
During his reign as the head of the county operations, he has been able to launch some development projects, most of which are yet to be completed. Such are among others: Isiolo KMC abattoir, Isiolo modern Market, Isiolo Stadium and the County H/Q offices. Mid last year (2020), Kuti’s administration was accused of hiring Intensive care unit (ICU) beds from a private institution in Isiolo town – a claim he refuted as malicious propaganda.
In his defense, the governor claimed that everything was done procedurally to procure the beds from a company called MEDS.
“We launched initially seven HDU beds, which we bought from MEDS and still trying to get more,” said Governor Kuti.
HUGE FIGURES THAT ROSE QUESTIONS
During the same timelines, he would later face another major hit-back, when he was summoned before the senate under basis regarding questions raised by the AD-HOC committee on the expenditure of covid-19 funds.
According to a document seen by Radio Shahidi originating from the controller of budget, Isiolo county government received a total of Kshs 90,613,000.00 as conditional grants received from the national government and donations/grants received from donors both in cash and in Kind.
Several concerns that emerged from the counties reporting documents included: lack of documentary evidence indicating who the individual recipient staff members were, and whether they confirmed receipt of Kshs 6,000,000.
According to the AD-HOC committee, there was also no documentary evidence provided to support the expenditure of Kshs 1,000,000 on street children. Questions too were asked on the price of maize meal that was allegedly bought at Kshs 3,000 per bale, amounting to Kshs 18,135,000.00 for 6,045 bales. These are among other instances that saw the first trend shared on online media platforms, of citizenry holding flyers with inscriptions demanding the governor to answer the raised questions.
Attention seeking or true grievances?
According to a local political commentator, as the country nears the electioneering period, many fractures of the community seek attention so as to benefit from the leaders both directly and also in power recognition and responsibility sharing.
“As the election nears, different groups would love to be considered and benefit from the leaders. We all know how generous the governor is, and some may want to take advantage of that,” said Mr. Denis
In the country’s history, and also during political gatherings, citizens are seen to pass a message through writings that are held high for the leaders to see, or along areas that the leaders pass through.
Governor Kuti has already made public his ambitions of being re-elected back to the office for another term. It is for the electorates to decide.
But then, the question still remains, all this burners, are they sincere feelings of how the residents feel for their leader, or is it just an attention seeker?