On Wednesday last week, Deputy President William Ruto and his entourage stormed Mandera County for a series of campaign rallies.
The team arrived late in the day from the neighbouring Wajir County but still managed to hold an economic forum that ended at about midnight.
The following day, DP Ruto held a successful rally in Mandera town.
He proceeded to Elwak in Mandera South and Takaba in Mandera West before returning to Nairobi.
During the DP’s visit, hundreds of the locals turned up in numbers to hear what the August 9 presidential candidate had for them.
In the crowd was a team of boda boda riders and taxi operators who were mobilized to form part of the DP’s entourage and attend the rallies
It is now emerging that both the boda boda and taxi operators were allegedly supposed to be paid for gracing the DP’s rally.
This is after a section of the boda boda riders went to Mandera Police station on Friday to report a failed deal.
According to the riders, some UDA leaders and candidates from the area short-changed them and went missing with their dues.
“We were engaged by a Member of County Assembly (MCA) allied to UDA to escort the Deputy President from the airstrip to a hotel through the town but the guy has disappeared with our pay,” Yakub Abdi, a boda boda operator in Mandera said.
A source at the police station confirmed the presence of the boda boda operators at the station but said police could record their complaint because they (boda bodas) failed to produce any written agreement on the same.
“The boda boda operators were here but we could not receive their complaint because they lacked a formal agreement that formed the basis for their complaint. It could be difficult for us to nail the suspect in this case,” the officer said, requesting anonymity.
Neboi MCA and Leader of Majority at Mandera County Assembly Abdi Adan Ali denied shortchanging the hired groups for the DP’s rally in Mandera.
“We engaged twenty five boda bodas and seventy five taxi operators for the event and we have settled everyone for that purpose,” Mr Ali said when reached for a comment.
The groups had accused him of taking off with their dues after a day of attending DP’s function.
Mr Ali said all the amount received from the party headquarters had been used in paying the police who provided security and delegates who attended the economic forum.
“We paid Sh100,000 to police and another Sh100,000 to UDA candidates and others from affiliate parties who came from places like Mandera North and Lafey as their transport expenses,” Mr Ali said without revealing the total amount from the party.
He passed the blame of cash mismanagement to Mr Hussein Hassan Sheikh, the UDA deputy governor candidate.
“Issues of transport for everyone who attended the function was handled by our deputy governor candidate and he can shed more light on the same,” Mr Ali said.
Mr Sheikh could not be reached.
As Mr Ali struggled to clear his name of any wrongdoing, Mr Hassan Issack Hache, UDA senatorial candidate in Mandera revealed that the local brigade had received a total of Sh2.5 million to prepare for the DP’s campaign in Mandera.
“We have very dishonest members in our team and nobody is telling us what happened to the money that was given out for this event. Everyone we engaged is on our neck over unpaid dues,” Mr Hache said.
Mr Hache blamed Mr Noor Ali Aden, gubernatorial candidate and some MCAs for the unfortunate situation.
“Our team received a total of Sh2.5 million for this event but what I know is only about Sh700,000 that was used. Our gubernatorial candidate is silent on the rest of money and yet we have debts to settle,” Mr Hache complained.
He said a local hotel was paid Sh600,000 and another Sh100,000 given to the police.
“Our reputation has been damaged in Mandera considering how some greedy leaders decided to take off with money that was to be used in paying delegates and other expenses,” he said.
When reached, Mr Aden, the gubernatorial candidate, dismissed the allegation of mismanagement of funds for the DP function in Mandera.
“No money has been lost and those claiming the same are raising a false alarm. We had challenges dealing with everyone at the same time but we are in the process of settling all that,” Mr Aden said by phone.
He accused some MCAs for the mess but promised to ensure the matter is settled early enough.
“We have some MCAs with a hidden agenda but I want to assure all those we engaged that they will be paid their dues,” he said.
Ms Amran Wardere, Lafey parliamentary UDA candidate said it was surprising how the senior leaders handled the money issue at the event.
“The gubernatorial candidate and the leader of majority were in charge of everything but upto now I am surprised of what happened,” she said.
The issue of money has threatened to have the team split as the disfranchised group proceeded to report their colleagues to the party headquarters.
“I am reporting what happened to the party headquarters for immediate action before we announce our next step,” Mr Hache, the UDA senatorial candidate said.