Abdikadir Haji, who is popularly known as Abdul Haji, has been sworn-in as Garissa County senator to succeed his late father Senator Yusuf Haji.
Haji was escorted to the Senate chambers by Deputy Majority Leader Senator Fatuma Dullo (Isiolo) and Minority leader Senator James Orengo.
Last week, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declared a no-contest as no one else had submitted nomination papers by Wednesday’s deadline (March 30, 2021) for those that intending to participate in the senatorial by-election scheduled for Tuesday, May 18th .
“The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) makes a declaration of no contest and declares the person listed in the 1st and 2nd column to the schedule duly elected as Senator, Garissa County,” IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati said in a notice dated April 6, 2021.
Haji takes the seat left vacant following the death of his father Yusuf Haji at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, on February 15.
The senator becomes the third politician to be elected unopposed in a by-election after Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi.
Following the death of his father Moses Mudavadi – a former powerful Cabinet minister in the late President Daniel Moi’s government – in 1989, Mr Mudavadi was elected unopposed for the Sabatia parliamentary seat to succeed his father.
In 2014, Mr Kuria also went to parliament unopposed when his main challenger, Mr Kiarie Kamere of the New Democrats Party, quit the race for the Gatundu South parliamentary by-election in 2014. The by-election was occasioned by the death of former MP Joseph Ngugi Nyumu.
On Tuesday, Vihiga Senator George Khaniri lead his colleagues in congratulating Senator Haji, reminding that him that he is stepping in very “huge shoes”.
“I have the confidence that you'll fit in those shoes. You will do as your father did. He was a respected man in this House and in the Republic. You must uphold those standards,” said Khaniri.
Majority whip Senator Kimani Wamatangi, described Haji as a young energetic man and one who has won the confidence of Garissa and indeed the country.
“Senator Haji has come into this chamber with a track record. Although he was just newly elected, he is not new or a stranger to the minds of the people of this Republic for heroic acts he's undertaken, even earlier,” Wamatangi said.
The Kiambu lawmaker believes that he not only has the capacity but he's got also the goodwill of the people of Garissa, “the goodwill of Senators to encourage and support him to be as successful as his father was and indeed more successful up to the extent of his own ambitions”.
Minority whip Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior commended Garissa residents for electing him unopposed and saving the country resources by not having a contentious election.
“Whatever form of democracy, Garissa has adopted, may this country in 2022 have a peaceful election,” said Mutula Junior.
On his part, Minority leader Senator James Orengo said in many countries, heroes do get elected in recognition of what they've done for their nation and their country.
He termed his election that was appreciated by the entire country encouraging Senator Haji to represent the whole of Kenya in the August House.
“Just like on that day at Westgate, you went there to protect every life irrespective of tribe, race or status. All the lives of the people you were defending mattered to you, you did not choose whom to protect,” he said, adding that “the image of you ushering that young little child, I think will be in our memories for a very long tie”.
He added: “Hope you will be part of the solution in bringing this country to order so that the best things that should come out of this nation, should come from ourselves, legislators.”
Wajir senator Abdullahi Ali congratulated the people of Garissa for voting for him without any argument and without anybody disagreeing with anything.
“My advice to you is, please hold the people of Garissa with both arms and that is the way you will proceed and succeed,” said Senator Ali.
“We want to tell the people of Garissa, as we also pass our greetings of Ramadan Kareem, you have saved this country resources by not having a contentious election. Whatever form of democracy, Garissa has adopted, may this country in 2022 have a peaceful election,” Senator added.
Nominated Senator Petronilla Were emphasized that haji was not just a Senator for Garissa but his demeanor alone, just like his father, puts him into the leadership for all Kenyans.