A section of Garissa residents now want the Handshake principals President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga to split the Ijara constituency in honour of the deceased Garissa Senator Yussuf Haji, 80, who died early this morning at Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi.
The late Senator Haji was until his demise the chair of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) taskforce, the product of the handshake between President Kenyatta and the ODM leader.
Senator Haji has been ailing since late last year and was flown to Turkey for treatment but returned home two weeks ago.
According to Abdullahi Aden, a taxi driver, the death of Senator Haji ‘has robbed the county and North Eastern region as a whole a dedicated leader who was in the forefront in uniting communities in the region’.
“We will surely miss his words of wisdom that revolved around messages of peace. He never hesitated to call out any individual whom he thought was out to divide the residents,” Aden said.
“The only way President Uhuru Kenyatta and the ODM leader who are the proponents of the BBI, can do to honour our late senator is to split Ijara constituency into two,” he added.
Haji was two terms Ijara MP in 2002 and 2007 general elections.
Another resident Ahmed Abdi Haji, who hails from Masalani in Ijara constituency, said that the request to have the constituency split was contained in the memorandum they presented to the BBI team.
“We have been consistent in requesting for an extra constituency. And now that Senator Haji is dead, let the two BBI proponents honour our request which I am sure even Haji would have wished to see,” Abdi said.
According to family members, the Senator was flown from Turkey a fortnight ago and admitted at Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, where he died Monday morning.
Haji was a long time administrator who served in various areas including the vast Rift Valley between 1970 and 1998. He was nominated to Parliament in 2002. And in 2007, he was elected to Parliament unopposed as Ijara MP.
Haji was the Minister of Defence from 2008 to 2013 during President Mwai Kibaki’s administration and briefly served as the acting Minister of Internal Security and Provincial Affairs in 2012.
It was during his tenure when the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) troops were deployed to Somalia to fight Al Shabaab.
Haji has served in the Senate since 2013 until his death.
by Jacob Songok