Kenya: Isiolo Deputy Governor Ordered to Vacate County Building

The cold relationship between Isiolo Governor Mohamed Kuti and his deputy Issa Abdi has escalated into dirty political games after the latter was given two days to vacate his office to "pave way for ongoing construction works" at the county headquarters in Isiolo town.

The duo has in the past two years kept their differences under wraps and the recent events point to a leadership that is no longer afraid to take their tiff in public.

In the Monday's move, the notice from site engineer Chris Mwanzui was pinned on the door of Dr Abdi's office.

Other offices at the assembly building, including that of Speaker Hussein Roba and several MCAs, were not served with the notice.

"The ongoing construction demand that you relocate from this office rooms since it's going to be affected. Kindly relocate by May 13, 2020," the notice pinned on Dr Abdi's office door reads.

Wrangles between the two started in 2018 when the deputy governor was stripped off his powers as the Health executive in unclear circumstances after serving for barely a year eliciting heated criticism from the Somali community.

Insiders say the deputy governor was removed from the Health docket for reportedly recruiting people from his Somali community but his handlers insist that he was targeted for exposing anomalies at the department.

The two leaders last shared a podium on July 7, 2018 when they commissioned Sh20 million mobility carts for disabled by Partners for Care in collaboration with the county government at Almasi School.

When they both bumped into each other during last year's International Day on Disaster Risk Reduction celebrations in Isiolo town police grounds in October, the two leaders hardly talked to each other during the entire event.

But what worsened their relationship, was growing complainants from the deputy governor that he had been sidelined by the governor and was not being involved in running of the government.

The fallout saw Dr Abdi's communication team withdrawn and tasked to work under the governor's office and his office budget allocations slashed.

The deputy governor is not informed of the county's itinerary and key happenings of the government he is part of, in what sources say is aimed at portraying him as a leader who is lone ranger and who does not work with his boss.

And while constitution allows the deputy Governor to operate in acting capacity as the governor in absence of his boss, a senior county official runs the show in Isiolo and influences key decisions.

According to County Government Act, a deputy governor discharges all the duties pertaining to those of the governor as stated in Constitution except nominating, appointing or dismissing county officials, a task assigned to the Governor.

The Nation understands that Dr Abdi, who has been gaining popularity and earning sympathy from local residents each day, is among those being groomed to battle it out with his boss in 2022.

"He (Abdi) is under immense pressure from local communities to vie for Governorship in 2022 and this seems to be giving the Governor's camp sleepless nights," an MCA who did not want to be named told the Nation.

Several attempts by the Somali Council of Elders to have the duo bury the hatchet have been unsuccessful with the Governor, who initially reported his deputy to the elders, failing to show up for three planned mediation meetings.

The last year's move by the deputy governor to team up with five MPs from the county in opposing legal notice establishing the county as an adjudication area further worsened his rocky relationship with the Governor.

Senator Fatuma Dullo, Rehema Jaldesa (Woman Rep), Nominated Senator Abshiro Halake and MPs Hassan Odha and Abdi Koropu of Isiolo North and South demanded cancellation of the notice and the process done afresh and adequate public participation done.

The pact with the legislators who have been ardent critics of Mohamed-Kuti-led government has continued to widen the rift between the deputy governor and his boss.

Governor Kuti in July last year said he was not aware of any discontent from his deputy and that had not received any official complaint from him.

"I know they want to frustrate me but I am not quitting. We are in a disjointed government and if the Governor feels we can no longer work together, it is high time we go back to the people and tell them exactly that or better still, dissolve the county," the Deputy Governor recently said.

Dr Abdi, who is locked abroad over the Coronavirus pandemic, said he will seek legal redress over the eviction notice which expires tomorrow (Wednesday) and which he said was meant to embarrass him and staff at his office.

"It is unfortunate that such a thing is happening when our country is battling Covid-19. You cannot give an office recognized in the constitution two days to vacate without a place to relocate to," he told Nation on phone.

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