First time lawmakers speak on change of status

Tuesday December 26 2017

Mohammed Ali

Elected Nyali MP Mohammed Ali attends orientation at Parliament Buildings, Nairobi, on August 29, 2017. He wants to sponsor a Bill that will compel the government to build a referral hospital in Mombasa. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By SAMWEL OWINO
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Ms Ruweida Mohammed was flying tourists to the Maasai Mara when she looked outside her window and the reality of the poverty she had always known existed hit her in the face.

She had been a pilot for 15 years with Mombasa Air Safari and describes that look outside her window as the moment she became convinced a career change was necessary.

Mrs Mohammed would in August be elected Woman Representative for Lamu County, a decision she says she does not regret so far.

“Piloting does not go to the people directly. I wanted to do something that has an immediate impact on the people and I settled on politics,” she told the Daily Nation in an interview.

“People respected me a lot when I was a pilot than they do now. In fact, people harass me at social functions unlike before,” she said.

OTIENDE AMOLLO
For Otiende Amollo, who was the first chairman of the Commission on Administrative Justice, otherwise known as the Office of the Ombudsman, his greatest regret after joining politics is that his wealth of experience in the legal world will no longer be fully utilised.

He points out that in Parliament, professional output or argument does not count as, at the end of the day, everything will be subjected to a vote and the majority will carry the day.

“As the Ombudsman, my professional output was fully useful every day but, for now, I only use 10 per cent of my legal knowledge,” Dr Amollo said.

ELECTION PETITION
The MP for Rarieda was in the limelight in August when he represented Nasa leader Raila Odinga in his successful petition against the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Despite the many changes he has gone through, from his time as a member of the Committee of Experts that drafted the Constitution to his job as Ombudsman, he has found the switch to politics rather difficult to deal with.

“In my last job, I would solve people’s problems administratively but now nearly all the problems I solve are in terms of money.

"I was also able to plan my time well but now it’s impossible. I can be called any time anywhere,” Dr Amollo said.

JICHO PEVU
Investigative journalist Mohammed Ali is also still grappling with the change of status and the high demand by people who want handouts and view politicians as millionaires.

“People still have the perception that politicians have millions, which they should give to people when they meet. They also believe that all MPs are in Parliament to make money and not to serve the electorate,” Mr Ali said.

In his new status, the Nyali lawmaker said he does not give out handouts but instead supports youth and women’s groups with great ideas.

POVERTY

Although he admits the move has earned him enemies, he points out that it is the only way of ending the culture of handouts, which only leads to poverty.

“I want somebody to come to me and say he has an idea but needs money to execute it, or that he does not have a job so that I help in finding him one but not that he wants a few coins to use today and the following day he is begging again,” Mr Ali said.

Health at the Coast and the welfare of police officers are top on his agenda when Parliament resumes.

FAMILY TIME

He wants to sponsor a Bill that will compel the government to build a referral hospital in Mombasa and another to improve the salaries of all police officers.

The lost privacy, balancing time between family and the electorate and the routine of attending to the needs of the people are some of the challenges Butere MP Tindi Mwale says he is trying to cope with in his new role as an MP.

“It is a challenging job but, having a background in community development, I find it more motivating to help the people,” Mr Mwale said.