Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Sharif Nassir at the weekend resisted pressure from a section of local leaders who pushed him to lead anti-government demonstrations at the coastal city.
Governor Nassir said his political allegiance still lies with ODM but will not sacrifice the development of Mombasa at the altar of antagonistic politics.
“I give you freedom. Every one of you should have the right to follow whoever they want politically,” said Nassir at the annual Eid Baraza at the Treasury Square where the gathering is traditionally held.
He however cautioned that the side they choose should not be to the detriment of Mombasa.
“But political differences should not make us fail. Because after five years, what will we tell the people who require us to provide leadership and development,” said Nassir.
He was responding to calls from leaders like county assembly speaker Aharub Khatri, Likoni MP Mishi Mboko, Malindi MP Amina Mnyazi, Mombasa woman representative Zamzam Mohamed, among other who said Mombasa is an Azimio stronghold and must be involved in all Azimio’s programmes.
Nassir’s predecessor Hassan Joho, who last week said he will lead demonstrations in Mombasa should the Azimio leadership make the call, played it safe.
“Today is Eid. Stop that,” he said after the crowd started chanting his name calling for demonstrations.
He said he came to announce that he fully supports Nassir in his duty as the Mombasa governor.
“My time will come. I will speak and it will be understood,” declared Joho.
In a tone that sought to calm down the political pressures that was mounting at the event, Jomvu MP Badi Twalib said addressing issues raised by Azimio leaders is the only way to halt demonstrations which are threatening to make a comeback.
He said lack of employment is one of the issues that make youth go to the streets thus creating employment for them will pacify them.
“That is why you see Governor Nassir going out of his way to ensure that Mombasa youth are employed,” said Twalib.
Nassir said there are at least 1,000 employment opportunities for the youth in the pipeline.
“We can choose to lament or work towards solutions. I choose to work towards solutions. Some 1,000 youth will soon go abroad to work. This is in the pipeline,” said Nassir without giving details.
Speaker Khatri said Joho must sit down with Governor Nassir and come up with a demonstration strategy. “Demonstrations must come back, whether they like it or not,” he said.
“Just tell us when. We are ready. If you tell us to start at 7am, we will be there at 6am,” the speaker told Joho, effectively declaring support for the pioneer Mombasa Governor.
Zamzam said no one will control them in Mombasa and prevent them from holding demonstrations.
“Our local kingpin has said it. We are going back to the streets until the cost of living comes down,” said the county woman rep.
She said opponents should insult Azimio leader Raila Odinga on their own platforms but she will not accept them to insult him using Azimio platforms.
“My brother Hassan Joho, we have missed you in Mombasa. If you join hands with our brother Abdulswamad Nassir, ODM will roar back to life in Mombasa,” said Zamzam.
Mombasa Senator Mohamed Faki urged Nassir to stand firm in Azimio programmes.
He took issue with Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi’s comments last Monday when he hit out at Raila while in Governor Nassir’s office.
“You only have one MP (Matuga’s Kassim Tandaza) in the Coast region. How can you direct us,” said Faki.
However, Governor Nassir said he will not change his ways because he is now governor.
He said all along he has been keeping insults out of his way and has never engaged in political mudslinging.
Nassir noted that he sees all Mombasa residents as equal and will not segregate them on political lines.
He said it is too early to start unnecessary political squabbles at the expense of unity and development.
“But any dais with the county emblem represents all Mombasa residents. All will be given equal respect in the eyes of Governor Nassir,” he said.
“I will not celebrate the division of Mombasa people because of political interests. All of you are mine,” he noted.
By Hussein Abdullahi