Campaigns for the Wajir West constituency have intensified, with 2022 politics promising to be a factor in the duel.
The frontrunners — Kanu’s Ibrahim Sheikh, Jubilee Party’s Mohamed Kolosh and Yusuf Elmi of ODM — are leaving nothing to chance as they prepare to face off in the April 25 by-election.
The candidates and their supporters have now pitched tent in the vast constituency holding strategy meetings.
Mr Sheikh caused ripples last week when he flew from one rally to another accompanied by MPs William Kamket, Naisula Lesuda and Kanu organising secretary Abdurahman Bafadhil.
The Kanu team held meetings in Barwaqo, Adhemasajida, Kanjara, Kukale, Griftu and other centres.
The candidates have exuded confidence they will bag the seat which fell vacant following a successful petition by Sheikh against Kolosho’s 2017 poll victory.
Kolosho had contested on an ODM ticket but decamped to Jubilee, while Elmi switched camps from Wiper to ODM. Sheikh has stuck with his party.
An upbeat Mr Kolosh told told supporters: “We are going to stick to the rule of the game.”
Observers say the poll could be a bruising one. Kanu and ODM are considering combining forces to outsmart Kolosh who was two weeks ago unveiled by Deputy President William Ruto.
Stakes in the race have been raised by a meeting between ODM leader Raila Odinga and Kanu’s Gideon Moi on February 26. Locals see the by-election as a contest between Mr Ruto and Mr Moi and Mr Odinga.
“It is clear this by-election featured in the talks between Mr Moi and Mr Odinga. It will amplify 2022 supremacy wars,” said Mr Hassan Ogle, a voter.
There’s talk Mr Sheikh is being considered for a state job to pull out in favour of Mr Elmi. On Thursday, Mr Sheikh was summoned to Nairobi for an emergency meeting with Kanu bigwigs where several possibilities were explored.
“In the meeting, Sheikh was unhappy with being asked to pull out. He threatened to go it alone. The meeting ended in a deadlock. He was then flown to Kabarak to meet Mr Moi, the only one he wanted to listen to for a way forward,” said a source within Kanu.
On Saturday, Mr Sheikh declined to comment, only saying: “I will call you back.”
Kolosh and Elmi’sDegodia clan is the majority in Wajir West followed by Sheikh’s Aljuran. Kolosh and Elmi will divide the Degodia vote, leaving Aljuran numbers intact.