The control of large budgets and political influence that came with devolution has turned competitive politics in Northern Kenya into a zero sum game. It has also seen the emergence of winter-white haired men with spade-shaped devil’s fork beards. Unlike in the old cultural system where women and youth had a specific role, the new generation of Sultans have completely sidelined this important group despite being the majority and they even determine who gets elected to the detriment of the people.
Since the 2013 elections, NEP counties received close to hundred billion, if not more, and there's nothing much to write home about as far as development is concerned. Why? Because majority of those elected are not answerable to the masses but to these old men who call themselves sultans. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with having a council of Elders but all that is wrong is, they're involved in the wrong job. All communities in Kenya have councils of Elders but they hardly get involved in politics to the extent of nominating individuals for political posts. Theirs is purely cultural. Why can't ours just restrict themselves to matters cultural and allow Northern Kenya residents to exercise their constitutional rights to elect whoever they want? Isn't it time the marginalized majority (Youths and women) wake up and revolt against this barbaric political culture that has made the region lag behind? These Sultans have made northern Kenya more divided than ever.
From Banisa to Tarbaj, Giriftu to Balambala, Madogashe to Marsabit, Northern Kenya's so called Sultans will be converging to 'determine and direct their clan's political future'. Which begs the question, where were these sultans since the 2013 elections? If they really care about their people, as they will claim, why not hold the current office holders accountable and make them answer for every shilling they have received since 2013? Or are the sultans for sale to the highest bidder?
The Sultans have always got it wrong when it comes to deciding the various political posts.
Save for the Majority Leader,– he is not a by-product of the disastrous sultan system and that is why he is who he is today and he is the only MP who represents the larger interest of the Somali community in this country- NEP members of Parliament have failed. Both in the House and in their constituencies. Why? Because they know they are not representitive of the people but a few men who can always be silenced by some brown envelopes.
The recent frenzy on the so-called Sultanship is actually the biggest mistake Northeastern has ever made. Look for instance, the system encourages incumbents to loot and do less in terms of development because they know very well that they won't be re-elected. The scourge that is Sultanship actually fosters underdevelopment.
Immediately after the last general elections, majority of NEP youth who went back home to vote along with their Sultans were so disillusioned that they vowed they will never repeat the same mistake again. Social media is my witness. Am now shocked to see the same Facebook-ers and the ones in the various whatsapp groups druming support for a system they know well won't benefit them. The only way out is; ONE MAN, ONE VOTE.
The new county governments and the political and economic largesse that comes with them are, if not managed equitably, likely to further exacerbate existing conflicts in the poor and conflict-prone counties of northern Kenya.
Is Sultanship the bane of Northeastern Kenya? Your answer lies pretty well in the track record of its products. Now you know.