A Kenyan of Asian origin has made history in Meru County by winning the North Imenti constituency seat.
Mr Abdul Rahim Dawood, 48, trounced former MP Silas Muriuki with 26,871 votes in a hotly contested race that attracted six candidates.
When the Sunday Nation caught up with him in his Blue Towers office in Makutano, the former Commercial Ward Councillor wore a lingering smile as he welcomed us into his office.
Outside, friends and relatives waited to congratulate him.
For a man who was born in an entrepreneurial family, Mr Dawood has indeed scaled the heights and overcome what he describes as “huge challenges” to clinch the parliamentary seat, including losing his father, Dawood Ali Mohamed Musani, in early January.
He contemplated pulling out of the race but he says the passion to serve North Imenti constituents was irresistible.
“I was really frustrated by the council after several projects I initiated were rejected due to political sabotage. I, therefore, felt the need to serve my people in a bigger capacity, that of being an MP,” said Mr Dawood. He ran on an APK ticket.
The father of two daughters was born in Maua and grew up in Meru town where he has lived for the past 40 years.
He went to Meru Primary School where he sat his Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) in 1973 before joining Aga Khan Academy in Nairobi for his O and A Levels.
He later went to Britain where he studied mathematics, statistics and computer science for a year before returning to Meru where he took over the family business in 1986. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in business administration.
The last born in a family of three sons is a known philanthropist. His wife Hawa Musani describes him as a generous and loving man.
“He is a very optimistic and caring person. The people of North Imenti are very lucky to have an MP-elect of his calibre” she said.
During his tenure as a civic leader, he donated his entire salary to the needy and engaged in several community development projects which likely buoyed his candidacy.
He has received numerous awards among them the Head of State Commendation (HSC) from President Kibaki in 2005 and the Distinguished Service Medal from former President Moi in 1996.
He has built a renal ward unit at the Meru Level Five Hospital, a kitchen at the Meru Women’s Prison, a dormitory at the Kaaga School for the mentally handicapped, a watering point at the Gakoromone and Shauri Yako slums among other notable charity projects.
“I believe leadership is about being inclusive and bringing services closer to the people. Now that I have managed through God’s will to clinch this position, I am willing to do more for the people of North Imenti,” said a highly elated Dawood.
Mr Dawood has also been a member of the Party of National Union (PNU), where he was the constituency chairman, and Peter Kenneth’s Kenya National Congress (KNC) before settling for the Kiraitu Murungi-led APK after the incumbent, Silas Muriuki, defected to TNA.
His campaign vehicles, at different times, were branded in different party colours depending on which party he was in.
“I was made to understand by certain TNA officials that the party had its own preferred candidate and hence the nomination exercise was not going to be free and fair. I, therefore, decided to set my sights elsewhere and I settled on APK,” he said.
He notes that during the campaign, allegations he describes as malicious and ill-founded were levelled against him and were among the factors that contributed to his success.