Mombasa ODM gubernatorial aspirant and businessman Suleiman Shabhal is facing a dim political future in his third gubernatorial bid as key allies abandon him ahead of ODM nominations.
Shabhal had bagged some disgruntled former Joho allies, the most prominent being Joho political advisor Major Abdiraham Iddris but a number of these early supporters have since abandoned the businessman, many of them taking a wait-and-see attitude to the race.
Iddris, a Joho insider with controversial past, also served in the office of the former prime minister Raila Odinga between 2007 and 2013. He is believed to be an NIS agent, as his professional background is shrouded in mystery.
In 2017, a Star Newspaper story linked him to international racketeering and drug trafficking as the reason he was dismissed unceremoniously from the Kenya Defence Forces, but he dismissed the allegations. His fallout with Joho saw him get hired by Shabhal who has retained his services.
The Mombasa race is largely between Mvita MP Abdulswamad Sharrif Nassir and Shabhal. Other parties, especially Amason Kingi’s PAA, has indicated it intends to field a candidate in Mombasa. Sources tell this writer PAA’s candidate is current Joho deputy, William Kingi.
In ODM, however, Shabhal, a rank outsider, is hoping to dislodge Abdulswamad Sharrif Nassir, a party insider with the ear of the party leadership and one of its key ranking leaders in parliament.
Sharrif is the current chairman of parliament’s Public Investments Committee (PIC). The PIC, alongside Public Accounts Committee (PAC), are the only two designated opposition party led committees. PAC is led by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, another close Raila confidant.
That Nassir was appointed by Raila Odinga to head PIC is testament to the ODM Party leadership confidence in him. He is also a close confidant of Governor Joho, a critical player in Mombasa politics especially now.
Shabhal had hoped to raid Joho’s bedroom of upcountry indigenes, especially the western Kenya block of Luos and Luhyas in Mombasa, but the Nassir family has had a longer and enduring relationship with this group, with older upcountry people recalling the times his father, of the same name, straddled the county and region, in their service.
Latest opinion poll show Shabhal is trailing behind Nassir, even though he has dismissed the polls as sponsored by Nassir. Shabhal’s problems are compounded by the fact that he is seen as soft on ODM’s key rivals in Mombasa, the UDA team.
Shabhal is being backed by Mohamed Ali and Hassan Omar, both who are in UDA. This is believed to be in exchange of Shabhal bankrolling the two, and other UDA candidates in Mombasa. This has created doubts on his commitments to ODM should he bag the ODM ticket.
Within ODM, other than Mahor Iddris who claims to have close links with Raila, Shabhal is solely depending on his money – billions of shillings – to clinch the ticket.
Will he be third time lucky?
Let’s wait and see.