Lamu County debate on NTV is UDF show

Formerly with the museum now with UDF party is Issa Timamy
Formerly with the museum now with UDF party is Issa Timamy

The Lamu Cultural Festival was on this week; a great time for that county to show off its governor candidates on Sunday’s NTV’s governor debates. Only the UDF folks seemed to show up.

Lamu County has been in the news over the last few days for the best reasons; the colourful Lamu Cultural Festival. Some of the best coverage of the festival for me has been coming from the web and I have especially enjoyed following Philip Ogola’s reports on Instagram with his photos from the festival. Top marks Jangsta.

With the NTV crew in Lamu they decided that this is as good time as any to do the weekly governor debates on that county on Sunday. Lamu is a special place. The town was declared as a world heritage site by the UN in 2010 which is really great as it means that the old ways of the ancient town can be preserved for posterity. Great for tourism as well, of course.

The town is also at the centre of a new development called LAPPSET that shall be passing through the town soon. It is a second corridor to the hinterland after Mombasa-Nairobi-Kampala that uses the Lamu-Isiolo route through to South Sudan. It includes a port at Lamu and roads and rail through this route all the way to West Africa. Awesome as Lamu can now take advantage of its location and enter 21st century. The new development promises to bring 1.5 million more people to the town which currently has a population of just over 100,000.

The candidates at the debate this Sunday were a bit disappointing but it was not their fault. Usually we get candidates that show what they plan to do for their county. On stage facing Linus Kaikai were Hussein Albeihi, Essa Timami and Sheikh Ahmed Msele. The sad part was that they were not here to debate really as they were all from the same party and were running for different positions. Albeihi the former council guy in Lamu was running for Senator, Timami former boss of the National Museums of Kenya was running for governor and the Sheikh was there for moral support I suppose. I don’t know why the other parties failed to send candidates but that was what we had.

As earlier mentioned there was no real debate as they were from the same party. They were being asked questions from the floor on what they had already done for the people of Lamu and what they planned to do when they got their lofty positions. It was an OK show from both candidates although I would have loved to contrast their opinions with others to see who the best of the group was. They mainly promised to lobby for their agenda to be pushed with the senatorial candidate seeming the most clued in to me.

The issues in Lamu look to be poor educational standards – they are 44th of 47th in counties in this – which translated to unemployment and all that goes with that. Which is sad as from the discussions it seems like Lamu can be much better as it has good weather for agriculture, tourism – beach AND game and other wondrous things.

The biggest opportunity is of course the aforementioned LAPPSET project which was welcomed by the audience and the candidates. While the development was welcomed, the government’s approach wasn’t as popular as residents were not involved in it from the beginning.

The interesting thing for me was the choice of party for the people on that podium of United Democratic (UDF) which is fronted by Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi. It seems to have strong candidates with Mombasa’s Suleiman’s Shabal having performed very well in his debate on K24’s The Office. The thing that I had forgotten was that the DPM was a Local Government minister for a while and he had built his networks in the counties in a way that I had not imagined. Perhaps he is more of a player in the presidential race than I imagined before?