MIGUNA MIGUNA: A quest Indeed, but Certainly Not for Justice

 

This would be my attempted objective look at Peeling Back the Mask. Reaching the level of objectivity herein was a true struggle. I have never approached a piece of literature with such preconceptions. It was admittedly hard since I have in-built preconceptions against the Author (Miguna Miguna) for a while.

Reading Miguna’s article in the aftermath of confirmation hearing, then, he was a columnist in The Star, I found it bizarre, that Miguna, a senior official in the office of the PM would use a language that bordered “foul” in his criticism of Hon. Ruto and Hon. Uhuru and their entourage during the ICC confirmation hearings. Miguna then was incredibly petty; I think he was celebrating the predicaments of especially, Uhuru and Kenyatta.

Miguna then termed Uhuru as an intellectually docile person who had never been above average in class and termed Ruto a political adolescent. This was disrespectful in the least. But on another scale, I thought it jeopardized the continuity of Coalition government and was a disservice to ODM since it was peeling the last strands of association between Ruto and Odinga.

Miguna later wrote an article critical of Isaack Hassan then, the chairperson then Interim Independent Electoral Commission. The country was then almost unanimous in its applause of Isaack’s performance during by elections and the referendum. The office of the PM through his Chief of Staff, Caroli Omondi sought to clear that Miguna’s writings were his opinion and not representative of the Office of the Prime Minister. Miguna would later allege that he wrote everything at the behest of the PM.

This occurrence appeared to cement rumors milling the media that senior persons at the Office of the Prime Minister were embroiled in power struggles.

I hold that our criticism of leaders should bear in mind our national realities. At the time of Miguna writing such profanely, emotions were running with impressionisms that Odinga had orchestrated the ICC process. For Miguna, then seen rightly as Raila’s voice; to smile at the six Kenyans in ICC was politically burdensome to ODM. If it were up to me, I would have fired him then. He was politically had outlived his usefulness and regrettably in such a short time.

Certainly Miguna is hugely intelligent, his work, even other literal work carries a lyrical prose enviable by any writer. A man, who has found a footing to have a multi-million residence in the Runda suburb after being a poor asylum seeker, deserves credit.

When he opines, on governance, policy and his pan Africanisist holdings, you will admire Miguna. I loved his vivid contributions as the constitution reform process unrolled itself to completion. Miguna is certainly a scholar, an enviable intellect.

Reading Peeling Back the Mask, I still think Miguna was fair to his master, Odinga and to whom he will remain loyally bound till death. The Miguna I was accustomed to would have been even louder. I expected him to go beyond revealing speculative Raila’s sexual escapades and hearsay. He did not, this could be for two reasons; he still retained a delusional thought that he could mend fences with his master or he never had anything beyond the snippets he generously bloats in his book.

If you read Miguna’s book, you will understand him. I find him honest, entirely honest.  In fact, Miguna offers me a lesson I would never forget in my life, your past can unravel itself into your future with such concise resonance. He is combative both intellectually and physically just like the Nyando plains stratified him.

I, born when the chains of Moi’s totalitarianism had ebbed, would be ungrateful if I fail to salute his contribution to the second liberation, albeit short lived. A man capable of standing up to the sighs of death for a belief is worth applauses. It is this regard that makes me restrained in criticizing Kiraitu Murungi, Willy Mutunga, Raila Odinga, Martha Karua, Koigi wa Wamwere, Gitobu Imanyara and their likes. I relish the freedom of thought, I enjoy it and I know I owe it to them, they defied complacency.

Before opining on the Book, I think Miguna is justified by all means, natural or our laws to opine, and so are his critics, and so is I, who is writing this. In fact, just like my great friend Charles Wafula, Chair Youth Initiatives Kenya, this guy coincidentally shares two names with my late dad: I like people who write things that touch on national interests. I like reading biographies and autobiographies. They help chronicle the journey this country has travelled, the pitfalls it has avoided and the roles played by different people. I don’t like people who don’t write. This is the tiff I have with Mzee Kibaki. I really hope he gets to write before he departs. This is the ‘sin’ I will need grace to forgive Kanyotu, who, having being the spymaster for Kenyatta, Moi and even Kibaki, went to the land of his forefathers without leaving behind even a stick-it note! Am thankful to those who have been able to write, people like Moi, Jaramogi, Githongo, Nyachae, Kiraitu, Joe Hamisi, Koigi, Ndegwa (1st CBK Governor), Kalembe and of course Raila in his book An Enigma in Kenya’s Politics, in which he also reveals some ‘funny’ things about other people. Thanks Miguna for writing. I really love your prowess in lyrical prose.

Equally, I know that those adversely mentioned have a right to reply and even take Miguna to Court. They are not obliged to take bashing laying low. And when you have ambition, like Raila does, he has a right to respond to the allegations. If he chooses to respond in silence or through his agents, I do not know. Miguna, in his words fired in the air, I trust that never empted his barrel, he should aim, aim at the heart and pull the trigger. Kenya is waiting.

My response here may be riddled with my own preconceptions, I have lots, but I have endeavored to be strictly objective.

One thing we all need to agree on, is that the book is about Raila Odinga. I was disappointed when Miguna while on TV denied this and tried saying it was his memoirs. I guess Miguna forgot what he wrote in the book. “That Raila was the motivation of the book, and that his intention was to (hopefully) show the deception that Odinga has all along been.

I have my “beefs” against Miguna. The incorporation of his personal struggles in such a sensationalized memoir has robbed him a chance of being a sincere motivation to other Ja’Nyando’s. I love his struggles. The man never saw his father. I guess I know the feeling, growing up never to have a father pat your back.

Living with an uncle and pulling a plough in the thick of the morning and later, being clubbed to near death. Few, arise from this abyss of nothingness into advising the PM. I wish Miguna had written his story before, or separate of this political murkiness he lumped himself into.

Is Miguna bitter? Yes he is.

Does it matter?

No it does not.

Miguna, I guess wrote this book with several things in mind. Primarily he intended to annihilate Raila’s political supremacy through alienating him from what he thought were Raila’s strong pillars, secondly appease his ego and thirdly probably profiteer from the sale or the rage that will follow thereafter.

Reading through the book, I was tempted to believe Miguna was not writing the book for Kenya. In his description of his origin, culture and escapades, Miguna paints Kenya as an illustration of failure and sustained pretence.

I would love to believe he wanted to be conscious of his non Kenyan audience, that is why you will find writings like …Luo, the tribe which I come from… in his writing, but it tells of what he anticipated a market out of Kenya. Every Kenyan knows Miguna is Jaluo (I gather there is a difference between Luo and Jaluo) and so does all Kenyan know what kalongolongo is. If he were writing for Kenyans, I doubt if I would have seen this: Katolo is what the English call hop-scotch. Peke is a throwing game … and there is nothing wrong with that.

I have no way of ascertaining or disproving Miguna’s claims. I believe though the book is mixture of truisms and falsities in equal measures. I will comment on what my mind is clear on and recede to my subjectivities when judging what I do not know.

Attempts to annihilate Raila:

Miguna paints Raila as a man with an acute deficiency in organizational capacity. He cites several scenarios when Raila popped up into great occasions without speeches. He could be right. This was in public knowledge of the publication of leaked cables by wikileaks; (Miguna refers to this in his book) allegedly Orengo and Sally Kosgei noted that their boss was near dysfunctional when it came to matters organization. Whether the bloated incapacity is true according to Miguna; that will is matter of judgment.

The above is something I have held too as a person. When I fronted this in a discussion with an aide to Raila’s political advisor, he told me, Raila did not establish broader structures around his office as it will be scrapped off in the ultimate.

When I read Miguna’s analysis of the pre 2007 ODM nominations and situation, I thought he openly lied or was a distant contributor who did not have a proper comprehension of the ODM maneuvers. His allegations that Odinga rigged the nomination are false. This is based on two things, after Kalonzo’s departure it was clear that Raila would be the de facto nominee of ODM. And while there were nominations at Kasarani, the truth is that there weren’t.

Indeed it was stage managed, Balala conveniently stepped down for Raila but for instance the number of votes Ruto got did not match the delegates from Rift Valley. It is understood he, Ruto, conveniently asked a section of delegates from Rift Valley who would have sided with him to back Raila. Raila subsequently had the backing of Nyanza, Rift, Coast, Eastern, Central and a bulk in the western delegates; he did not need to rig.

Unfortunately, this early lie may haunt the rest of his book as almost everything he later discloses is either founded on; “his keen observation”, ‘someone telling him’, ‘someone confiding in him’ or ‘his eavesdropping of a conversation’.

Miguna appears as a person who understands Raila well. He knows the premier enjoys a great international backing, a fanatical support from the Luo community and Raila’s reform credentials attract him to a dissection of liberal electorates.

Miguna paints himself as a Luo betrayed by Raila and goes on to illustrate that Raila does not value other Luos save for his close family members. For instance he writes; when he sought a contract or placement on the government payroll, Raila told him – to his face – that he couldn’t be hired because he was a Luo. Being a Luo suddenly seemed to have become a crime for Raila (this is in reference to a Luo journalist seeking a contract at the office of the PM).

 

In quick succession he writes:

 

Ironically, when it came to his siblings, family or relatives, Raila conveniently

forgot that they were Luos; hence the formal employment of Oburu (assistant

minister, elder brother), Akinyi Wenwa (diplomatic post, sister), Beryl Achieng’

(board chair, sister), Ruth Adhiambo (personal assistant/MD Spectre, sister),

Rosemary Akeyo (personal assistant, daughter), Fidel (personal assistant, son) and

Raila Junior (personal assistant, son), Jakoyo Midiwo (chief whip, cousin),

Elkanah Odembo (ambassador to the US, Jakoyo’s brother in law), Carey Orege

(permanent secretary, cousin), Joe Ager (Kenya Power, cousin), Paul Gondi

(chairman, geothermal authority, cousin), James Ogundo (CDF board, cousin)

and many, many others.

Any person who has miniature understanding about the operations of the Odinga family will know for instance that Raila junior is greatly detached from his father’s political life. While Fidel and Rosemary actively participate in their father’s public life, Raila junior is detached concentrating on his personal advancement.

I would suppose, it is good to here to touch on some personal information. While Miguna alleges that since Raila taking office his children have been able to buy houses in expensive neighborhoods, this cab rebutted with such ease. For instance, in the run up to 2007 elections, the Raila junior was involved in a mini accident in which his BMW collided with the vehicle of another prominent Kenyan when coming from clubbing escapades. As such, these kids started driving top of range vehicles before the father became the prime minister. Raila junior for instance, as a slit into the young Odinga’s own empire, bought Safaricom Shares during the 2007 IPO exceeding 52 million Kenya shillings. This was when his father was out of government and not a PM

 

What for instance is wrong with Ruth running a family business. Specter International is not a government body and it is a common practice for family members to run family businesses.

Miguna is a politician, ambitious as such and he even fancied taking the Luo kingship mantle from Raila. He sacrificed for Raila as a way of realizing his own ambition. His book betrays rage, rage that all his sacrifices were going down the drain. Miguna admits: …There are personal, as well as ideological reasons, that people will devote their energies to helping others get to power. At its most rudimentary, they expect a “thank you”, and if possible, an opportunity to be considered for employment…

 

When Raila gave him a job, he was willing to keep quiet; when he fired him he blasted. Miguna is an angry man, but as I said it does not matter.

Miguna displays an amazing lack of judgment to the extent that he is a contradiction of himself.

When he started his book, he rightly says he is incorporating himself because to understand why he was writing; his readers could not divorce his person from the context. He seems to me here, as appreciating that his writing is suspect, but justifiable or excusable by his person.

The Miguna who he introduces us to is a boy who ran out into darkness and away, requested for a lift from a stranger and endured 8 hours night journey to run away from physical abuse; A man who resisted the allure of visiting the state house when money flowed from it. Miguna is supposed to be a man who is incorruptible, incapable of enduring graft.

But here, he supposedly meets Caroli ferrying 54 million in cash, Golden berg money, yet his heart is still blindfolded. Raila refuses to tell him thank you after coughing over $48,000 yet he trusts he will change. Raila refuses to act on the Maize and triton scandals yet he continues hoping and this hope vanishes immediately after being fired?

Why would Miguna blast Raila’s response on Kazi Kwa Vijana (KKV), but he never extended his briefings to agencies mandated to fight graft. When the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission was investigating Caroli and Isahakiah after the President suspended them, why didn’t he extend the information to the investigation agencies? He gives a wide berth to these investigations in his book.

I imagine Miguna will ask me the question he has peddled around emotionally; so should he have kept quiet, no he shouldn’t. But the fact that his timing is telling, and the fact that he is not Christ the Nazarene means we have to question what he says. Is there a possibility that he lying? Yes there is.

Miguna’s disappointment with Raila is his own creation; he invested his hopes in Odinga and immortalized a man. He apparently placed himself at the beck and call of Jakom, sweetened and polite Jakomoing of his response to Raila, Jakom this, no jakom, jakom that: shows that Miguna saw Raila as a deity, as his own salvation, not Kenya’s and his is a sincere expression of disappointment.

Why would I suggest that Raila is Miguna’s deity? I keenly watched the guy after being fired; he lamented, Raila, he had paid Raila’s business class ticket, served Raila, Fought to the ground Raila’s imagined enemies, wrote Raila’s speeches, Raila came before his wife, He would book a flight when Raila called, stop packing and join jakom.

Strangely, Miguna cannot claim he did this because of the struggle. He is an ambitious man. He wanted to go to parliament and knew the easiest way was Raila. He, Miguna was an assumed Luo warrior, coming back from the Diaspora to size down other tribes. After all, Luos had been maligned and subjugated, and in his own words, his and the thoughts of other Luos elites was that they could endure Raila’s high handedness as long as the community’s interests would be served betrays the ideals he stood for.

Miguna rudely discovered otherwise. He ranked low in Raila’s priorities. What Miguna discloses, unconsciously I believe, is the fact that his involvement in Raila’s affairs was fueled by a possibility of jakom holding his hand to the corridors of power. Raila did, according to Elsderkin, after persuasion. Miguna almost supports this in his book. When Raila, failed, when he failed to consider him, for even AG, and strangely Miguna is not qualified to practice in Kenya, he has not attended the Kenya school of Law and later fired him, his was a rage of a man betrayed by his deity.

Another falsity in the book is about Miguna’s unassailable supremacy at University of Nairobi. While it is true that Miguna went to exile, that he was a finance secretary for about a week, that his team made bread available in large quantities, his description of Nduma Nderi (the chair of SONU)  used to urinate in his trousers during campaign rallies is an outright lie according to Wafula Buke , who took over the reigns of SONU after Nduma.
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RAILA’S MISTAKE “ALLEGED OMISSION” NO COMMISSION

“Raila never raised a finger to help Hussein even though such a policy was clearly discriminatory and unconstitutional.”

 

“Why hasn’t Raila said anything about Anglo Leasing or the Goldenberg or Triton or K-Rep or Grand Regency or the Embassy alleged scams through which the Kenyan taxpayers lost hundreds of billions of shillings?”

 

“And Raila never responded to my memo addressed to him on this matter”

 

Why did Raila condone the appointment of his sisters to plum government positions soon after he became Prime Minister? Were his elder brother Oburu Oginga and his cousin Jakoyo Midiwo the most qualified members of ODM for Assistant Minister for Finance and Chief Whip positions?”

 

What I am saying is that as the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya and the individual with the constitutional mandate to execute all government functions, Raila could and should have taken initiative to have these matters addressed.”

 

“Not once did Raila publicly complain or register dissent against this outrageous abuse and desecration of public office.”

 

These are some of the allegations leveled against Raila. Going through the book, I am unable to find a place where Miguna says, Raila did this.

 

Sincerely though, if this sense of omission is true, then Raila’s office is a den of inaction. I would never imagine him as president.

 

But my doubting shallows with such speed as I read the book. The inordinate tagging of blame on Raila makes Miguna’s story untrustworthy. Does the constitution really give Raila “mandate to execute all government functions?”  The Prime Minister’s mandate according to the National Accord is coordination of government functions.

 

I like Miguna’s proactive nature. He certainly exceeded his mandate, and I understand why his colleagues would see him as nosy, but if I trust what he writes, it was for the good of the country.

I doubt if advise on Coalition matters extend to investigations. Raila has many advisors including Adhu Awiti who is his political advisor. But Miguna did everything and in this zeal he himself trashed protocol and the Kenyan law.

 

Miguna terms as inaction, Raila’s inability to help someone he calls “ my mentor, a genial retired judge of the East African Court of Appeal called Bena Luta.”

 

Raila was supposed to intervene for Luta to be compensated for a property the former regime forcefully took from him.

 

Just wondering, was the PM’s office responsible for such, why didn’t justice Luta sue the state as many other Kenyans who faced injustices did. How would Raila value the property and order the treasury to pay up. What about other Kenyans who are not Miguna’s mentors? Was this actually an abuse of power on Miguna’s part?

 

Miguna says “The Attorney General, the Police Commissioner, the Director of CID, and Minister in charge of Internal Security and Provincial Administration worked directly under him.”

The Provincial Administration is under the office of the president and so is the Internal Security Ministry. Raila may have had a very minimal command on this. While it is inexcusable to be silent, I think a prime minister seeing that the matter had been raised in parliament and the line minister having promised to look into the matter, what did Miguna expect.

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My analysis Will continue…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elite Failure: Kenya’s Hopes Interred by Her Privileged

 

he knows that the media will irresponsibly lump the whole blame on the entire parliament. He knows that he can bribe his name out of a newspaper story. He knows that even if the newspaper wrote that he is the one who introduced the amendment, those who understand the risk it posses to democracy will leave offices in the evening, swipe their credit cards in supermarkets and rest on couches in the evening relishing the fact that they are about to get a masters degree. It is Kenya’s elite who kill their own aspirations”

NARC’S ascending to power in Kenya in 2002 signaled the end of the Moi era but created a stagnation of civil progress. While both the Ibrahim Mo and World Bank indices have showed that Kenya has shown improvement in governance, other social indicators of societal progress like the elite unity heavily lack in the fabric.

In a discussion with the CEO National Convention Executive Council, Cyprian Nyamwamu, a very peculiar truth came forth. The anti-Moi struggles prior to 2002 were just that, a country united against a person. In his words, Cyprian says, there was a duet of principles: For Kenya and For Moi.

I would therefore imagine that in 2002 the country united in voting Moi out. And as it would be, the rage attracted a considerable collateral damage. Those who remained intimate with Moi were swept, but never into oblivion. They sneaked back into political prominence because essentially, the country never thought of them as inherently bad people, they were thought merely as betraying the tide.

The 2002 scenario allows us knowledge of several crucial aspects; the first being the missing of long term commitment to good governance in Kenya. The most pertinent question we need to ask ourselves as a country is; were the struggles culminating to the KANU overhaul in 2002 genuine or fueled by self interest within the Kenyan elite?

To answer this, we need to admit the confusion that the 2002 overhaul created in Kenya. Just before 2002 happened, I previously alluded to the fact that Kenya was divided along those for the regime, and those for the country. The latter brought together the entire middle class. It merged opposition politics with the civil society creating total non distinction between the two.

In the struggle against Moi, we had a lawyer who was struggling to have ends meet, a teacher with a poor pay, a doctor with no facilities at work and a relevant donor who took pride in funding the civil society to raffle the government.

The donor community never believed in the possibility of a Mwai Kibaki presidency. The political calculations then heavily pointed to an Uhuru Kenyatta presidency. To reduce foreign influence in the 2002 election, Moi lead the donor community into believing that his usual tact would carry the day. Moi thought that the greatest risk to KANU’S continued hold and by extension his hold onto power through proxies would be threatened by unity of all the ambition then existent in KANU. KANU then had Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, George Saitoti and Musalia Mudavadi all believing that they were entitled to the presidency. In this ambition, Moi saw a way of retaining power.

He created internal dissent within the party by anointing Uhuru Kenyatta. In his calculations, a move that the donor community believed it would work, Moi anticipated a revolt. He hoped that all the ambitious within KANU would go separate ways hence a multiplicity of candidacies within the opposition and a divided vote. Then, one only needed a simple majority to be president.

It almost happened so. But strangely, the revolting Turks united under LDP and later with the NAK opposition and handed his regime a defeat. This defeat saw active pro-democracy activists join the government.

This created a confusing scene; an abrupt realization of the elite’s goal. Moi had become one thing around which the country was spinning. Moi embodied all the evil that Kenya wanted to rid itself. Subsequently he ceased being the just the face of politics, but a uniting factor philosophy. The disapproval people had of Moi started determining the social evolutions in the country.

Just like a partnership winding after completion of purpose, the Kenyan elite wound their union and receded into personal development. A lawyer left the street and went to the bar, an optimistic teacher went back to class and a private business person started investing again. While the whole country could join hands in blaming government for a pothole on Mai Mahiu-Narok Road, after 2002 that became a problem of the users of that road.

The fusion of social activism and state also created another confusion; while in the Moi era, when one talked about recognition of the Mau Mau, they could be seen as a burden to the state, the NARC era brought scenarios where civil society groups would meet with the Mau Mau delegations in the Minister of Justice’s boardroom. The NARC government moved in to create commissions and refurbish government departments empowering them to undertake crucial activities. Most of these activities had previously been undertaken by the civil society.

The empowering of Anti graft agencies for instance stole the spark from the civil society. But while the civil society had been genuine in its fight against corruption, the government backed agencies became masks. They used technicalities to excuse graft. On the other hand, the civil society was disintegrating. A part from the ugly fact that they could not attack an agency that they had lobbied for, the intertwining of politics and civil movements robbed the civil society unity.

With people hanging on individual strands, the country receded into a crude association. While in the Moi Era people united because of bad governance, the post Moi era created a vacuum of association and ethnicity stepped in. The NARC government created expectations which it foiled at the start. People anticipated opportunities which were never created. While they were united in the anticipation, they could only but separate in disappointment. The society then became cautious of regions, tribes and this fermented in part spilling out in 2007 into horrendous violence.

This probably allows us to regard a few factors; there ought to be a delicate balance between the civil society and the political interests. The political elite here mean the government and opposition inclusive. Whenever there is a blossoming intimacy between any faction of the political elite and the civil society, we ought to revise our priorities, since then, that would be sectarian and momentary interests that may not withstand a test of time. The society needs to continually set standards that are slightly higher than the delivery ability of the political class.

The civil society needs unite in bits with the political class but sustain a cautious friction that allows continuous pressure for performance. This is unachievable if there are cracks within those who do not compete directly for influence. The inability of Kenya’s privileged, those who have a chance of knowing unity beyond kinship or regional, those who know another commitments beyond immediate ethnic ties, their inability to unite positively is the reason for stagnation in the civil progress.

Politicians take risks which they know their electorate would either agree with or fail to understand. When a Member of Parliament introduces an amendment to allow for party hoping, he knows that the media will irresponsibly lump the whole blame on the entire parliament. He knows that he can bribe his name out of a newspaper story. He knows that even if the newspaper wrote that he is the one who introduced the amendment, those who understand the risk it posses to democracy will leave offices in the evening, swipe their credit cards in supermarkets and rest on couches in the evening relishing the fact that they are about get a masters degree. It is Kenya’s elite who kill their country’s aspirations.

The sudden expansion of space by the NARC government institutionalized stagnation. It exposed our Achilles’ heels in personalizing our struggles as opposed to having a pursuit based on a defined philosophy. We see enemies in people, not in betrayal of our strict aspirations of a pure governance system.

It would take a restructure of the Kenyan elite to renew a true pursuit of untainted governance in wholesomeness. It would take a creation of a philosophy. Beyond the flair of civic education on responsible voting, beyond the personalization of who should be president, beyond a look at the track records of our intended leaders, we need the privileged to have a commitment that transcends the moment.

In the restructure, the elite needs to know sensationalism and press conferencing will not influence policy. The fading civil society speaks of a detachment between the elite and the masses. This is what legitimizes political imprudence. Whenever you allow the political class to engage directly with the hearts of the masses without a credible check from those who ought to be the conscience of the society then you allow an imperial democracy.

We should not let the pursuit of the privileged to be insensitive to the collective good of the society, as in this there shall lay a legitimacy of demeaning privilege, devaluing education and allowing for political impropriety. Our inaction, has failed the country.

In a recent comment, the Director Vision 2030 wondered why Kenyans were dying on Thika Super Highway. He commented: when you have a first class facilities, and a third class mentality the sum total is third class. What Mugo Kibati might never have known is that when a citizen is third class, he is rightfully so, and when you place a first class facility in their midst, you are obliged to occasion an understanding of the first class and its nuances. It is we, those who understand that traffic jams result into huge monetary losses that are to blame for the deaths of those who fail to understand why they should use a longer footbridge, yet they can jump over the rails.

Of Politics and Degrees

The hat

Skimming through the roles, I do not think that as a country we are discriminating when we require a certain level of academic proficiency for one to seek an elective post. While politics is largely about social influence, the role of parliament goes beyond politics and may require some level of varied expertise if we have to realize a certain level of policy maturity.”

 

 

On June 29th, the country was treated to a ruling that contradicted itself from Justice Mumbi Ngugi. The matters before her for determination were whether the president violated the constitution when appointing the county commissioners. Equally, she was supposed to determine the constitutionality of Articles Article 22 of The Elections Act Kenya that required: (1) A post secondary qualification for one to contest as a member of parliament and (2) A requirement for an undergraduate degree from a recognized university for one to contest as a governor, deputy president and President.

In finding that article 1 contravened the constitution, Justice Ngugi stated that article 22 (1) discriminates on the basis of status and social origin. She found that the article contravened article 27 of the constitution which recognized all persons as being equal before the law. Interestingly though, the learned judge upheld a requirement for an undergraduate degree from a recognized university for one to contest as a governor, deputy president and President

When following up the case, I indeed thought that that was how she would find. There are times when a judge reaches out to extrajudicial consideration to reach a judgment. In some instances, it would be an excusable non-application of the law as a matter of popular prudence. However, populist approaches when discerning matters may not be entirely a great concept, and for posterity, it is sometimes necessary to remain strict to our aspirations and commitments.

I would not delve into the merits or lack thereof in the judge’s argument, I do not even intend to base my assertion on the law, and I just prefer to question our sincerity as a country when fronting various stands in matters of politics and education, or degrees should I say.

When reacting to the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) that had been enacted by parliament, the Prime Minister Raila Odinga termed the requirement for a degree as discriminatory. Quoting statistics, he said only about 2 million Kenyans can have degrees out of a population of near 39 million people. It is the same ratio decidendi that the judge based her decision on. Such is the falsity in our generalized arguments.

The premier’s argument disregards some basic truism; that of the 4o million people, 13.6 million young Kenyans in active education between Pre-school and University. The statistics excludes those in tertiary institutions as they were not captured. All these Kenyans, though they may not attain the degree, they have a hope of doing so.

Parliament is established under article 93 of the Constitution of Kenya and it bicameral with both the senate and the National Assembly. The roles of the National Assembly are enumerated in article 94 and the role is largely legislation. The senate appears to be a guardian angel of devolutionary interests.

Skimming through the roles, I do not think that as a country we are discriminating when we require a certain level of academic proficiency for one to seek an elective post. While politics is largely about social influence, the role of parliament goes beyond politics and may require some level of varied expertise if we have to realize a certain level of policy maturity.

When the Election Act 2011 was passed, several civil society organizations pointed out to the ambiguity in the fact of requiring “post secondary” qualifications. Some of the Mps who came out to vehemently oppose the degree requirement said the requirement ought to have been postponed for five years. Essentially, this means, we allow them five years probably of acquiring a degree.

Such, would be a contravention of the constitution. This is since; the current around 80 Mps without degrees would have a direct pecuniary interest in the matter. Such an amendment, even if it were to be accepted, it would have to wait till the next parliament to take effect if article 116 (3) An Act of Parliament that confers a direct pecuniary interest on members of Parliament shall not come into force until after the next general election of members of Parliament.

 

The other great question that we need to ask ourselves is what magic we will be doing to ensure everyone has access to higher Education in the next five years. Will we confer degrees on infants so that the whole population has a degree and we are not discriminating on whatsoever bases? Or do we intend to say that beyond today, we will not reconsider our stands?

 

Ambition is tasking. While we should restrict aspects like money which does not assure competence, it is baseless to say that since our country has social gaps, requiring degree holders only to seek election to parliament is unfairly condemning those who lacked school fees.

In fact, the other falsity in our assumptions is the imagination that only the well to do have accessed education. There are many people in Kenya who have accessed Education yet they come from abject poverty. Many of the highly educated come from really challenging backgrounds.

 

While we have to be true to the reality that some of these ambitious Kenyans may have been barred from accessing Education by items beyond their means, what have they done since amassing wealth to prove that if they had monies they could have pursued their education? It would make a truly persuasive argument is Sonko had instead of engaging in gimmickry chosen to pursue a Diploma in the after work hour evenings.

 

Equally, where is the extraordinary leadership that any Mp without a degree has offered to excuse them on the basis that leaders need not education? In fact, they have been as bad or worse. There are members of parliament who rarely utter a word in parliament. When the judge waives the requirement for a post secondary education she should be reminded of Clement Waibara saga, a man who spend near all his life in parliament without giving a maiden address. His performance in the constituency is just as worse.

 

The judge should visit Malindi constituency to know how the very fact that their MP is not educated makes scores of young men spend their life on beaches hoping to make it using other means.

 

When we make such a declaration, we are communicating to the coming generations about the value of education. We tie ourselves perpetually to our deficiencies; we are excusing our lack of committed struggle on the basis of poverty; excusing indolence on premises of social backgrounds.

 

I’d rather; we hand our children a posterity that screams that even in utter poverty, shove yourself through education rather than saying you can scream an excuse in the latter parts of your life to justify non schooling.

 

When Dr. Eseli is fronting fallacies in parliament, that Bill Gates did not have a degree, that Steve Jobs did not have a degree, he fails to understand that they did not contest to make policy in the USA; that they relied on their alternative gifting to cut a niche for themselves. He forgets that our parliament has not given us a Gates, that none of these Mps has fronted an idea that caused any positive shift whatsoever.

 

We have to be true to ourselves and accept that as a nation we are integrating ourselves into the globe. We need legislation that will mediate conflicts that arise as a result of this integration, we need within the parliament people trained in policy management, people capable of identifying policy loopholes, who can give due guidance when parliament is discussing intricate issues.

 

One cost of having non experts in the parliament is that we prolong legislative procedures. This is since you may need to outsource expertise when drafting bills. Worse still, you fail to get proper proposals in the parliament. I believe a trained doctor in parliament will understand the need for better medical equipment, if not for anything, but for the pride of his profession.

Raising our expectations of the MPS is telling ourselves that the higher you scale your ambition, the more effort you have place in your effort, moralities and caution in your actions.

 

We have had parliaments that have been largely inefficient. They had highly educated persons and less educated persons. In the new dispensation, I’d rather gamble my vote with a professional teacher, not an ambitious person who made it despite education. Am I unfair, I believe I am, but my unfairness is rooted in the hope that one day, poverty notwithstanding, people will strive to get education?

 

I know of John, an IT student at JKUAT who retook his KCSE exams four times to be admitted to JKUAT. I admire John. John was orphaned at 2. And he joined campus at 26. He is a man who knows the cost of an ambition. What if all Kenyans strained to beat the odds? Why, for God’s sake should I listen to Gideon Sonko crying about a degree and yet I know John. Why would I sympathize with Kalembe when I know that there are thousands who work on tea farms to pay their fees?

 

Are we as a nation supposed to incline our ear to these exemplary stories of resolve or indolence in the guise of poverty? No one chooses to be born poor, but we chose to stay in those circumstances. A degree may never guarantee as leadership, but neither does its lack.

 

I would love to see someone appeal against this ruling; I would love to see the courts clear the ambiguity in drafting and upholding that the post secondary qualification should be construed as a degree.

 

If there is a Kenyan with such a high ambition of being a member of parliament, they ought to step back to college. We will mentor them into academic excellence. Then when their natural gift of inborn leadership has been nourished by adequate training, they can join those who will be there to drive the country beyond vision 2030.