Saturday, June 22, 2024

From a Mayor to a Boda Boda rider: The devastating story of Abdulaziz Kicheko

Abdulaziz Kicheko Allan, a 56-year-old father of six, once lived a life of luxury and prestige as the former Lamu County Council Chairman or Mayor.

However, life hit him hard, and he turned to work as a boda boda operator within Lamu Old Town to make ends meet.

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Mr Kicheko served two terms, first as a nominated councillor in 1997 and 2002 and later as an elected Faza/Tchundwa ward councillor from 2002 to 2007.

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He was also appointed and served as Lamu County Council Chair. He sat in the same seat that the former Lamu County Assembly Speaker, Abdul Kassim Ahmed occupied

Despite his illustrious career in politics, Mr Kicheko’s life today is that of a hand-to-mouth existence.

In an earlier interview, He described the years he served as county council chair as golden. He says elected officials served the electorate diligently when he was a politician, though they were paid peanuts.

In the old days, leadership was all about sacrifice, and the interests of voters came first, according to Mr Kicheko. He insists that former leaders live in poverty because they put all their interests aside and worked for mwananchi.

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“Our salaries would range from Sh1,200 to Sh1,500, but sometimes we would still wait for more than two months to get paid,” he said in a past interview with Nation. “All in all, we had to put all our interests aside and work for mwananchi. We had to work so that we remained in leadership.”

When he left politics, he had saved very little that could last even a year, and because he is a family man, he had to find other ways of sustaining his family. In 2009, he was hired as former Lamu Woman Rep Shakila Abdallah’s personal driver, a duty he performed until 2013.

“When my contract as Ms Shakila’s driver ended in 2013, I ventured into the Indian Ocean as a fisherman. After the Mpeketoni attack in 2014, restrictions, including a night fishing ban, were imposed in the ocean in Lamu,” he said

The fishing ban prompted him to quit the trade in January of the following year when he decided to try his luck in the boda boda sector.

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Although he still went by the titles “Chairman” and “Councillor,” which he used on the streets of Old Town and as he scrambled for customers, he didn’t have the privileges of his old job with the defunct local authority.

“You can imagine that the government still owes me. For several months, salaries were not paid, but every time we tried to push, no one was willing to pay us our dues. That’s the key reason I am not happy that I served in the county council,” he said.

Mr. Kicheko’s predicament mirrored the tough times and financial difficulties his former colleagues were going through in other parts of the country. He appealed to political leaders to help push the government to release money to assist former councillors like him.

He insisted that a monthly pension and a send-off package would cushion them from suffering even more.

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