Mohamed Maow, aka the Isaac Hassan of Kimathi, is the 2020/2021 Electoral Commission of Kimathi Chairperson. He is the first person to be featured on Influencer of the Week in 2021.
1. Who is Mohamed Maow?
I’m a fourth year student pursuing Bsc. Electrical and Electronics Engineering. I am an intrinsic nomad hailing from northern Kenya, to be specific Garissa. I am a persistent procrastinator and an avid sleeper. Some people might say it is laziness and I don’t disagree. It is who I am and I love it. I have an unhealthy crave for camel milk. You can call it an addiction and you will be accurate. I guess it is how I was brought up. I use it as a pleasantry for my guests because I believe it is the highest honor one can bestow on any one. Some like it, some don’t. If you want to try, come over to my place, knock off your shoes and enjoy a cup of hot camel milk. Any way that is me.
2. Being the Chairperson of the ECK in DeKUT, what is that like?
It is a great honor. I started as a commissioner back when I was in second year. I became Vice-Chair miraculously (and I mean it) when I was in third year and finally I was the Chairman in 2020. Technically, I am the longest serving student in the commission.
What do you mean when you say that you became vice chair miraculously?
I applied for the commissioners’ position. I wanted to try it for the second time. Ordinarily, the chair and the vice are chosen from those who applied for the chair position. Checking on the shortlisted people, I was the Vice-Chair. It was unbelievable.
3. Having been in the electoral commission for 3 consecutive years, what can you say about DeKUT elections?
DeKUT elections are competitive. That is a good indicator of a functioning democracy. However, the elections are not inclusive. After the delegates system was introduced, the elective positions became a reserve for the big communities leaving no room for the minorities. Last year, we wanted to amend the constitution to allow for minorities representation but corona made the efforts futile. Some were accusing me for pushing for the amendments to create myself a post through dubious means but that was not the case. We just wanted diversity to be evident in the council just like in other universities.
4. Tell us more about the plan to amend the DeKUTSO constitution
It caught some impetus last year. We had planned to turn the electoral commission into a constitution review commission. We had some bold proposals and the whole process was to start when we resume may-august semester last year. Corona came and scuttled our plans. Well I don’t know when it will pick up again but what I know for sure is that we need inclusivity in DeKUT politics.
5. DeKUT elections in 2020 were different from previous years’ elections in that there were no competitors for the student council seats. How did that happen? Is it that nobody else submitted their nomination papers or those who submitted didn’t qualify?
The commission has rigid time and everybody including us have to conform to it. We are required to publish the schedule of events on the schools’ notice board so that everybody is aware about the time everything is supposed to be done. Some people picked the nomination papers but did not bring them back. There were some ethnic politics at play but I don’t want to dwell on that. Bottom line the other group did not beat the deadline.
6. From your point of view, what effect did the lack of competition have on this year’s elections?
It had no effect on the competition whatsoever. The other side of the isle were keeping us on our toes by filing for frivolous petition. I mean, it was very easy to debunk their lies but it was very good. They had the legal right to file for that petition. What I can say for sure is that the one sided competition made the work easy on my side. When the game is not so competitive the referee is happy 😂😂
Did the lack of competition affect on voter turnout?
In my view the voter turn out was affected by students who were committed with their studies because it was an examination period. The voter turn out was unlikely related to the contest.
7. You mentioned that you were involved in plans to change the constitution. What did you hope to achieve?
The constitutional change was just to allow for the formation of two political parties with candidates from all the regions of Kenya.
Tell us more about that
Formation of political parties would encourage a policy based democracy rather than ethnic based democracy. There would be two candidates from a given community from both the parties, so voters would make decisions based on ideas not ethnicity.
8. The ECK has been having a communication problem where majority of comrades in DeKUT don’t know what is going on. A good example is this year’s debate. Communication about the venue was made just two hours before. What do you have to say about that?
The venue was a hard issue this time because there was an examination going on. Almost all the venues were in use and the relevant officials who are involved for example time tablers and the registrar were hard to reach or were simply busy. But we tried our best to communicate as early as we could.
9. What frustrations, if any, has the electoral commission faced while discharging it’s duties during the 3 years that you have been in it?
Not that I’m aware of.
You’ve had no challenges?
We had a few challenges among them the inconveniences with venues brought about by the pandemic. There were also some challenges from digruntled student who were not happy about the political formations that were playing out. Overall, nothing significant.
10. What is next for you after campus? You’ve been actively involved in campus elections. Do you intend to play a part on the national stage? Maybe be another Isaac Hassan?
I have some political ambitions for as early as 2022 but I have not yet made up my mind . There is a lot I want to change in my community. I believe I will play a huge role in Northern Kenya and the country at large in the future.
11. What do you like most about DeKUT?
The thing I like about DeKUT is the timely completion of the course work. Sometimes when I look at my peers from other universities, I am proud of my decision to choose DeKUT. I also love its Engineering program. I believe DeKUT will be a leading University in the future.
12. Almost half of the students in DeKUT will read this article. What would you like to tell them?
Believe in yourself. This is the right time to build your future.
13. DekuTrends fans question: Are you making money while still in school? And if you are, how?
No, I’m not making money in school. The only cash I made in school is the salary from my work as commissioner, Vice Chair and Chair. There were also some few allowances from that work as well.
It’s been a pleasure interviewing you. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors even on the national stage.
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Here are previous Influencers of the Week:
1. Janet Chepkirui, DeKUTSO Vice Chaiperson.
3. Sabul “The Bull”, who won the award for Most Influential Person of the Year in the DeKUT Comrades’ Choice Awards 2020
Other articles on DekuTrends: