The Alleged Assassination Plot against the Deputy President

Kenya’s history is fraught with incidents of many unresolved political assassinations. As such, I would be very hesitant to dismiss a claim as grave as the one alleged by the deputy President. And I believe, it is in the greater interest of the country, that this is expeditiously investigated and resolved.

In my understanding of government, the President and senior Government officials face threats to their personal security daily. Some credible, some red herrings. I understand that most of these threats are processed in silence. In fact, I have zero recollection of ever hearing an announcement of a threat against say the President, even one that was thwarted. And I believe this is by design. Because by publicly broadcasting such, you easily hand the public a poisoned chalice.

The public nature of these claims, and sharing of letters purportedly written to the President, alleging assassination plots is one of the most careless occurrences yet, but not the only one.

In any case, this has now become a country where phone calls between leaders are recorded and used for blackmail and character assassination. Private conversations where the public is not involved are brought to the fore without regard to basic decency. Essentially, there is no thread of trust that can hold a friendship, leave alone a government together.

It appears to me impossible, that a cabinet can hold in view of such grave allegations. It also appears to me, that the DCI now has a public duty to process this case with as much transparency and notice to the general public as possible.
Because as a citizen I was treated to a spectacle of a cabinet secretary going to DCI to record a statement. Because as a Citizen, I was treated to an unauthenticated letter addressed to the President. I am also entitled to know, publicly if that letter is authenticated or not.

Because the Deputy President called the DCI to notify them of this threat, he equally must be obligated to record a formal statement, so that this matter is processed according to the law.

The President equally owes the nation a duty, to come clear and confirm if any of his cabinet secretaries indeed called him, and if he indeed advised that the allegations be put in writing. This crisis of trust is not just threatening his government, it is threatening the very co-existence of Kenyans as a people.

The President has at his disposal adequate intelligence to know by now, whether these claims are noise or bear truth. Where they carry any truth, he must as a matter of urgency relinquish all involved off their responsibilities, and hold the accountable to the fullest extend. Where they bear no truth, he must equally and unequivocally tell the nation so. And hold the authors of this narrative to firm accountability. This should not be treated just as another public stunt. It should not be treated just like another political gimmick.

The Government and our political leaders must take the business of governance seriously.

 

Humility: A lesson in Service & Growth

Yesterday, I was so thrilled to meet my peers that we served together as the Executive at Kenyatta University Student’s Council. Then, I had the honor of being the President of the Student Council. As President of the Student union, we led 72,000 students, controlled a vote of Ksh. 43 million, I sat in the University Senate, was allowed into the University Council and was part of every decision made at the University. This period of my life gave me lessons, it stretched me, but it also set me up for one of the greatest challenges I have had to face. Let me share it with you.

My two Jobs after the University were essentially as a personal assistant. My first title was that of an Associate Partner at Public Policy consultancy firm. But whereas my boss entrusted me with delivery and management of company initiatives, he also expected me to ensure his water bills are paid, and in many cases, insisted I go to do it myself.

My second Job was as an Executive Assistant to a Managing Director. Here, the job ranges from executive support to his office, to carrying his briefcase and even ensuring he is safely checked into a hotel room. Now, the transition from being a boss, to these roles were not easy. In all honesty, many a times I felt that my duties slighted me.

When I took over my second Job, what I consider one of my greatest strengths was tested to the core. I realized, my boss would tear apart every draft, be it a letter or a memo I presented to him. And I could draft one document close to 4 times before it was accepted. These things were not easy. But one thing that shocked me with all my bosses, they had inexplicable faith in me. So, it was honestly confusing.
That was when I learnt a few things.

The greatest lessons in life come from the most humbling of experiences. If I remained a “boss’ I’d never know what drafting a policy paper really meant. I would never pay attention to the nuances of writing a brief or a letter that triggers real action.

I learnt I was young, but I was sitting on certain tables. I did not have experience to warrant my sitting with a cabinet secretary or a President. But God has his intentions why He thinks I should. And my ticket to that table, is carrying my boss’ briefcase. And writing the minutes. And doing the follow-up.

With time, I’ve earned the confidence of my own assignment. But what is amazing is how effortlessly it matters to me now that I ensure there is water on the table, or that the driver has eaten. In all honesty, I care more that my boss has his notepad and pen ready, before I sit down to take on my duties.
No one deserves to lead unless they can be led. So maybe, just maybe, your real path to real greatness lies in the path you see as muddied and unworthy of your feet.

 

DON’T DOUBT: YOU DESERVE A PLACE AT THE TABLE!

There will always be a tiny voice in your head, questioning. As you sit down to make a job application, whether you really deserve to get it. At work, when an internal opportunity is advertised, whether you really should apply too, or let it go to the other person.

Many times, in life, I have found myself in places where on many measures, I’m the least. The least educated, the youngest, the least experienced, the least affluent. And these voices easily become loud, so you are tempted to sit and just listen, until when someone will say, but Felix, you haven’t said anything.

You choose to dim your shine, because you believe anyway, everyone else here is better. You choose to kick yourself out of a race because so and so always run better. You refuse to take up a leadership role, because so has always led us.

Hear me today, yes, you may be inexperienced, but you have a voice. Speak and be corrected, you learn better. Take your sit at the table and add your voice to the chat. The Lord who brought you to that sit, has a better understanding of who you are than yourself. Seek to be better, but don’t question your worth.
Speak life and confidence into your heart, and silence the voices that seek to uproot your feet from the path of progress.
Today, believe in yourself, you will see the magic that comes with that.

A Whisper to the Young

1. It takes time to Make anything in Life: So learn to fight beyond a day, beyond a month, beyond a year. Whenever you believe in something, keep being at it. Rethink where you must, change what you must, but dont give up at the first instance of strife. Granted, whichever second or third or fourth venture you set out to do, you’ll still need patience.

2. Life is more about how you relate with people than anything else: Fight to be the most competent, work the best you can, offer your heart out, study to the best level you can BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, create relationships with people. Respect those ahead and behind you. You may imagine you know so much, the truth however, is that with every sunshine, there are lessons. And many have seen way more that the brilliance of your moment.

3. Prepare yourself to Sit at the Table. Corridors don’t like strangers. So learn your way to take your place at the table and belong. Don’t ever doubt your ability when opportunity happens. Nothing ever happens by an accident. Remember, when you appear like you don’t belong, you could as well be on your way out.

4. Pay attention to Small things: Rarely are people toppled from grace by great incompetence or great transgression. It is the small things. Say hi to your tea girl. Edit an email a third time. pay attention. Say no to small pride. Do small roles to perfection.

5. God: He actually works miracles. Try Him!

Blessed Thursday

Statement on the Murder of Ivy Wangechi

May God comfort her family, friends and all those who knew her. I did not know this young lady but I would like to state a few things.

1. That today, there is debate about whether her death was justified or not horrifies me. First I dont need analysis to know that a good amount of information on this story is fake. Within an hour, blogs were carrying alleged screenshots of their conversations. I dont even believe the Police at this time had accessed their phones. Yet, these misinformation become the “Facts” of how discussion is carried on. We judge, distort & assail character based on falsehoods and emotions.

2. Nothing Justifies such Gruesome Killing of a life: Folks, for someone to carry an axe, attack someone twice, then slice her neck with a knife. That is a deeply troubled and dark soul. Nothing justifies that. Don’t at any point imagine that this should be explained away.

3. Clearly, we have a problem. Of all the progress the modern society has realized, as a generation we are sinking back into condoning Violence against women. People are making careers out of objectifying women and we give them audience. I honestly think every woman should be very apprehensive of anyone who has the audacity to imagine that this was justified, even in the remotest of sense. I think the gains made where everyone in the society should feel safe and secure are being eroded.

4. Young men, this world has deep disappointments. You will invest a million shillings & it vanishes in an hour. You will love someone who will not love you back. You will invest time, resources & emotion in someone and you will see them walk away. You will get into a relationship and be cheated on. Grow some spine and understand that life is about getting up and moving on. Don’t ever imagine that you are justified to go on a rampage whenever your feelings are hurt. If everyone did that, this world will be apocalyptic.

5. Finally, to everyone, these things dont happen out of blues. Whenever you see disturbing behavior, speak out, Report, seek help. Don’t ever excuse physical violence or excessively out of the ordinary behavior.

May Ivy’s soul Rest in Peace. And may Her assailant, Naftali Kinuthia be processed in accordance with the Law.

DON’T YOU DARE FORGET

Give me an ear. I’d prefer an eye too, but I know it may be teary
The day is just but passing, and your soul could be weary,
I thought I should remind you, of these don’t you dare forget

YOU ARE WORTH: Born of a woman like all were. Maybe in a little poorer family, may be with a little lesser education, may be with a minor job, maybe your day passes with struggles. But these are labels. Important yes, but they don’t define your worth, your potential nor are they your story. You are human, and worth. Deserving. And defined of your being, never by your circumstances.

Don’t you dare forget

YOU ARE THE AUTHOR OF YOUR OWN STORY: Refuse with all strength to be part of the journey. You are unique and distinct. Your story must be written in your own words. For life is but a symphony of many tales, and its beauty fades when we never add our story. Write your own, with struggle and delight. You may lack a pen for now, scribble with your fingers if you must. But writing you MUST.

Don’t you dare forget

YOU KNOW YOURSELF BETTER: Listen to criticism, but only with a view of picking what makes you better. Many people in this world put others down to mask their own failings. When one holds you to better-ness, walk with them. When one but points out how imperfect you are, face them with love, but let your heart give them a back. You see you better. They know your fear, your nakedness. Don’t allow labels to define you.

Don’t you dare forget

To say: I am Sorry, I love you & Thank you whenever you have a chance!

Fight for your Place at the Table

I’m one of those people who have a thousand ideas flowing through their head each day. So, I have tried my hand at countless things. And sadly, the new thought will always look and feel better. It will always appear like it has its chances of success greater than the other.

This is a story of many of us, first you start by planning a meetup with friends, then you wonder if you can co-invest, then toy with an idea on Agriculture, then a small blog, then a job application, then to start an NGO. A year down the line, you have been very busy, but nothing has been done.

So I’ll tell you a small story. In 2014 then I was a student leader at Kenyatta University. I preferred getting to the office by 6 and that has remained my habit to date. As the day would progress, I would get caught up. You know, a student walks into the office, you listen to them and decide I need to sort this now. So by 4 PM, You would have been busy all day, and maybe resolved an issue or two, but you haven’t touched the bigger plan you set out to.

Out of Campus, I started running two start-ups, and oh God, was I not busy, but a deal was never closing.

One day when talking to one of mentors. Many of you would know him, Mr. Meso, he literally asked me to stop jumping around and focus. First, on low hanging fruits. And his analogy was pretty basic, you really cannot manage a million shillings, if you cant find value in one hundred. You cant manage a 100 acre farm, unless you can manage one.

From here, I learnt the art of low hanging fruits. When designing a project, do not seek to wait until you have all the money you need in the world to start it off. Instead, look at an element that requires zero cost and start with that. If your idea is to Start a Foundation that pays school fees for children, start first by assembling those children and talking to them about the importance of education.

If your idea is to start a business, don’t look at the ten million deal, first bring in 10,000.

There is something that happens to you as you record small successes. You get the motivation to take an even greater step, and before you know it your dream is in sight. It is called GROWTH.

Now, Growth is a process. So many times, young people walk to me with a proposal of doing something. The Most naïve of expectations is that they will get instant money to start off. When you ask the third question about their idea, they feel you are a dream killer. Or when you ask them to get back to you having reviewed their idea, you probably won’t see them again.

One day I’ll tell you a story of how it took, one year of Meetings to finally secure Funding for a project. One year, of email after email. When you feel you have addressed everything, a second question arises, and it tears you apart. As a young person, please know that you will have to prove your worth sometimes even ten times.

Learn how to defend your ideas. Modify them, but stretch and fight until you see something, happen. Stop chasing a million things, you will never solve every problem, Focus on one thing. Get it done, and if its steady, move to the next. Learn to tell your friends, my hands are full now.

Hello Young Graduate! Part 1

I have engaged colleagues from about 2012, so you would say seven years. First, when I was Secretary General at Equity Africa, then thereafter as President of Students’ Council in KU and all along after exiting from school.

I have met an extremely ambitious lady, seeking a job while they are in third year, and they get one. But I have also met and continue to hear from someone who graduated four years ago, but they have never got a job. I meet people, who get a one year contract in a start-up, and the security of the salary is not guaranteed, and the contract gets cancelled when you desperately need it.

You see, as this happens to you, you will look and see your peers or classmates, and a few of them seem to be doing so well. They seem to have a job all intact. They get a small loan here and there and buy a small car. And deep down your heart, you start asking yourself if you are a failure. These things can easily get to you, they can easily define you. They can easily take away all the strength you ever had.

So hear me out!

A year or two without a job after graduation does not mean you are a failure. We are in an economy where 70% of Start-ups face attrition and die off. Over 83% of the Jobs our economy creates are in the informal sector. Our Public Service reeks of patronage. Sometimes believe you me, the fact that opportunity has not opened its window to you has nothing to do with you.
You see my friends, I know my peers in Student leadership, who left as Presidents, and started working as casuals. With all the networks and today, its their testimony. Don’t disparage small beginnings. Don’t see nonexistent curses in your struggle. Keep being at it.

Here are a few things you should try.

VOLUNTEER- Start this when you are in Campus. When you head home for a months holiday, volunteer to teach at your former Primary or Secondary School. Look out for an NGO, or a conference that is happening and ask to volunteer. You trained as an economist, and a year down the line there is no Job, try looking to do community training in a slum. My first Job was in 2009, as a high-school teacher in Khayo Secondary. I taught five Subjects. I was paid Ksh. 1000 bob per month. I can’t tell you the magic in this thing. Just try it.

NEVER PASS A DAY WITHOUT ADDING KNOWLEDGE: Continuously learn even as you look for work. Forget the learning that needs you to use extra cash, no I mean just use your phone if you must. Know all the new trends in your industry. Know the leading players and what they are doing. You see, as a young graduate, you may have to prove yourself five times harder than those who are older. There are so many chances of earning an extra certificate from Harvard or Australian universities over one month with Ksh. 5k. And I know that cash may not be there, but my friend seek knowledge unending.

SEEK WORK: First, polish your CV, stop using that generic high school template that lists three primary schools you attended. Every work is looking for a specific skill. You surely cannot use the same resume for five job applications. I have sat at decisions in shortlisting people, employers do not like idle people. Never send out a CV that shows you’re currently doing nothing. If you have a chance, walk into people’s offices in person. Sometimes, your voice speaks better than your hand. Ensure you do have an updated LinkedIn, and list everything you participate in. Effort is a turn on. And hey my friends, don’t spit venom on your social media. It is true, they are reviewed. You see, some of you believe that by using pseudonyms, you can fake an online identity. But each social media account is tied to a phone number or an email, which sadly maybe the same one on your CV.

Don’t worry, get as many rejections as possible, I assure you, a window does open at some point. And if you forget everything, please remember, that an employer chose someone else over you, does not mean you are less worth. Take it as a call, to add one more skill.

Happy Friday!

LF

KENYA NEEDS A PARADIGM SHIFT IN ITS WAR ON GRAFT

 

The legal framework in Kenya is equally not adaptable to the complexity of fighting graft. To start off, we need a radical shift in legislative regimes. I look forward for example for a law that reverses the burden of proof from the State to individuals in matters touching corruption. All the EACC would therefore be required to do, is reasonably allege that a certain officer has acquired wealth beyond what they would reasonably be expected, and it would fall on that officer to prove that the acquisition was lawful and just.

As the Cabinet Secretary of Education released KCPE data for 2016, there was a drastic drop of about 31% in the number of pupils who obtained Marks above 400. While it may be grossly presumptive to link wholly attribute the drop to absence of exams leakage, this number caught my attention for a curious reason. In an interview earlier in the year, the immediate former Chairperson of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Phillip Kinisu told Reuters, “Kenya’s budget is now approaching 2 trillion shillings; a third of it is being wasted through corruption.” In another research by the Aga Khan University, Thirty Percent of the Kenyan Youth believed that Corruption is Profitable, while 35% would readily give or receive a bribe.

The thirty-something percent mark reveals a dire dilemma. There is no way we will imprison our way to a corruption free nation. Instead, we need a total paradigm shift, founded on three pillars. These Pillars are, Strategic Political Will, Rule of Law & Pro-Poor Investments.

Earlier in the year, I met Professor Katherine Marshall at a governance Summit in Geneva. Katherine has wide-ranging experience researching on and working with governments to establish anti, and counter-corruption strategies. She summed up the most effective anti-corruption strategy as, Fire from above and fire from below. Fire from above meant an unwavering commitment from a nation’s top leadership, lending conscious and strategic political will to the fight corruption and creating a bipartisan alliance. Fire from below, denoted an intolerant citizen family, unwilling to listen to explanation, even sacrificing the innocent to assert zero tolerance on corruption.

We have failed on both fronts. The Political class is the author of the mess, and the people are not just angry enough yet. The President, while having tried initially to demonstrate commitment, has not offered guided leadership on the matter. The opposition on the other hand sees corruption as a tool for mobilization, setting the nation on a partisan path that heavily undermines the war.

In the current framework of governance, the Parliament forms the best place from where to launch the war. A pro-active parliament, like Singapore’s did, could adopt a National Anti-Corruption declaration that would then become the legal and policy basis for a more broad and effective approach to the war on graft. Parliament also offers a platform for easy molding of political bipartisanship. For example, a joint committee on Anti-Corruption with Core chairs from the ruling and main opposition factions can easily be formed. All the Executive would do then is to mobilize resources around a broadly agreed upon model.

The legal framework in Kenya is equally not adaptable to the complexity of fighting graft. To start off, we need a radical shift in legislative regimes. I look forward for example for a law that reverses the burden of proof from the State to individuals in matters touching corruption. All the EACC would therefore be required to do, is reasonably allege that a certain officer has acquired wealth beyond what they would reasonably be expected, and it would fall on that officer to prove that the acquisition was lawful and just. We need a legal regime that places time limits within which the investigation, prosecution, conviction or acquittal of corruption allegation should be processed. More importantly however, the most urgent need within the Kenyan legal framework to fight corruption is to simplify the approach back to the traditional, Allege-investigate-Prosecute-Adjudge model. All the stages need to reside in a single agency with defined mandates and requirements for accountability.

What we have developed currently is a multi-layered scheme that sanitizes almost every allegation that goes through it. A case that is in court, while is still being investigated by EACC and same parties appearing before Parliament creates room for delay and more compromises, creating an indiscernible web.

The poor are the hardest hit by endemic corruption. Focusing on Pro Poor Investments in a country will deal a decisive blow on Kenya’s corruption family from a multiple of fronts. The first front is, mega corruption is a high-risk venture and resides in mega projects. Pro-poor projects tend to attract less attention from cartels and have high impact. For example, as David Ndii opined in his article on January 3 2014, while we spend 30 Billion to build Thika Road, from an economic perspective, at best, the project realized no new productive capacity, rather its economic benefit was to boost the bottomlines of existing businesses. On the other hand, on 2 Billion was used to build fish ponds, yet it increased aquaculture fish production fivefold from 4,000 metric tons per year to 22,000 tons. Investing the bulk of a nation’s development budget in pro-poor initiatives starves mega-craft architects of targets and gives people dignity.

Kenya’s war on corruption is in disarray, to argue otherwise is to be deaf to the very basic of signs. This calls the nation to a better way of approach lest we eat ourselves into oblivion.

WE MUST CONFRONT THE GHOST OF ETHNICITY IN PUBLIC SERVICE AND INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING

A mix of cultural dispositions, values and approaches are a good buffer as we try to fight corruption and other manifestations of bad governance. Our tribes ascribe different significance to different values, so the more diverse we are and the more cultures melt into the pot of public service, the more we will be able to guard ourselves from the imperfections of singularity.

On Tuesday 20 September, the reality of how Higher Learning Institutions in Kenya are heavily ethicized hit the country with a rude awakening. Uasin Gishu Governor, Jackson Mandagor and His Nandi counterpart Cleophas Lagat led locals in the demanding the ouster of Prof. Laban Ayiro as the Acting Vice Chancellor of Moi University on account of not being of the Kalenjin descent. The Governors threatened a disruption of the University’s scheduled.

There are two things at play here. The Ministry of Education proven ineptness at handling transitions in institutions of higher learning, and a deep culture of ethnic bargains that characterize our public service. Moi University is a curious case. Professor Mibey, the outgoing Vice Chancellor finished his tenure sometimes in the first quarter of the year. There are claims that even a sendoff party in his honor was held, but then he mysteriously and un-procedurally slid back to office sometimes in June this year. Moi University is not the only university experiencing a messy transition. Kenyatta University is another ticking bomb, with its transition heavily interfered with, and the ministry seemingly unable to intervene and ensure stability.

Beyond this Ineptness by the ministry of Education, Kenya’s civil service and institutions of higher learning are the embodiment of the bad demons of negative ethnicity in this country.  In a research undertaken by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission in the Universities, while the Kikuyu, Luhya, Kalenjin, Luo and Kamba, make up 66 per cent of the country’s population, they take up 93 per cent of the jobs at Masinde Muliro University, 89.8 per cent at Moi University, 87.3 per cent at Egerton University, 86 per cent at Jomo Kenyatta University, 82.3 per cent at the University of Nairobi and 81.7 per cent at Kenyatta University.

While Kenya has well over 48 Tribes in the public service, the top six tribes control, 82.6 % of the government leaving just about 17% for the remaining 42 tribes, according to a report released by the Public Service Commission in 2015. 11 Communities are over represented while 23 are grossly underrepresented.  An example is while the 2009 census places the largest tribe in Kenya, Kikuyu, at 17.2 % of the Population, they hold 23.4 % of the civil service accounting for a 6.2 over representation.

When it comes to specific Institutions, the Presidency is guilty of having 45.4 % of employees at Statehouse coming from the President’s tribe and 35% of Staff at the Presidency’s cabinet are from one tribe. Almost all government corporations are likely to have disproportionate ethnic representation depending on who heads the corporation.

At the County Government Level, the situation is worse. In a report done in 2015, 29 Counties out of 47 had breached the law that requires that at least 30% of the County Staff be non-locals. In the report, Bomet County had 97.9% of its staff as Kalenjins as Nyamira County too, having the same percentage of Staff as Kisii. Kirinyaga had 97.8 % of Staff as Kikuyus as Kisii County had 97.5 Staff as Kisii, Tharaka Nithi had 95.7 Tharakas.

Counties like Kilifi, Mombasa, Bungoma and Narok had a very encouraging show of embracing ethnic diversity.

Some measures have been undertaken to correct the situation. In 2015, The Public Service (Values and Principles) Act, 2015 was passed which stated in part that the public service may appoint or promote public officers without undue reliance on fair competition or merit if an ethnic group is disproportionately represented in the public service or in a public institution.

While some of this disproportionate representation are historical, and the Act and practice may cure it gradually, the situation has not been helped by a growing perspective that plum jobs within the Jubilee government are a preserve of two tribes. This perception is fermenting hate and discontent that may be dangerous to the future of the country.

This is where leadership is required. Beyond the law, we need policy measures with timeframes that will work towards rationalizing ethnic representation in the civil service, National government and County Governments. These measures cannot be restricted to proportionality in new hiring alone as this will perpetuate the perception for unnecessarily length periods.

A mix of redeployment, inter-institutional and inter-departmental transfers and early retirement for willing persons will go a long way in laying a firm foundation for an ethnically diverse and proportionally representative civil service and government.

Some people argue that we may be obsessing too much with ethnicity and sacrificing merit and competency. This argument is justified, but it ignores a number of facts.

Ethnic diversity in civil service and government is now a national value, supremely ratified and adopted in the Constitution of Kenya. As such, as a nation we are bound to actualize and live it.

A mix of cultural dispositions, values and approaches are a good buffer as we try to fight corruption and other manifestations of bad governance. Our tribes ascribe different significance to different values, so the more diverse we are and the more cultures melt into the pot of public service, the more we will be able to guard ourselves from the imperfections of singularity.

This would be a great point to throw a challenge to the President. The President launched with flair a new political outfit that focused on the quest for national unity; it would be excited to see him commit to rationalize the staffing at the Presidency before the General election. Symbolism goes a long way in setting pace, it is time we saw leadership that transcends rhetoric.

Despite the very best of his efforts and speeches, the reality that confronts President Kenyatta is that Social Cohesion Indicators show that the Country is more ethnically balkanized during the subsistence of his presidency than during the Grand Coalition government. This reality needs to be confronted urgently.