Of thieving State Officials, Failing War on Terror and a Clueless President

By Ooko Victor

Any concerned citizen waking up in Kenya today would cast a dejected soul at the disturbing goings-on envisaged in our country with every dawning day. In the middle of all political rhetoric and faction loyalty, three things stand out clearly for anyone, caring and objective enough to see.

  1. The thieving by State Officials is rising with every minute this administration spends at the helm of power.
  2. More and more civilians are finding it unsafe to live, work or visit North Eastern Kenya  with the unabated threat of the Al-Shabaab.
  3. The President, in the full glare of the media, has admitted to his inability to execute his mandate in the war against corruption. And as is evident, the war against terror.

Runaway Corruption

I recently published an article detailing the growing cases of corruption that seem to be sprouting towards the end of the first term of the Jubilee Administration, and how this is a similar occurrence to the 2005 discovery of the Anglo Leasing scandal that to date, remains unsolved. Its culprits living large and some even holding public office (see John Githongo dossier here). The article Graft Theater: Contextualizing Kenya’s Fight Against Corruption details the strategic use of state machinery to cover up corrupt details while hoodwinking government supporters of attempts by the opposition to tarnish the name of the government, with the intention to ‘steal’ power.

health

Maternity section at Komarock Modern Health Care at Utawala, Nairobi. Photo courtesy of Daily Nation.

The past 4 years is a testimony of just how fallacious and manipulative such a statement could be.  Indeed, the discovery of a scandal, bigger than the National Youth Service scandal, and right at the center of a key pillar of the Jubilee Manifesto; Delivery of Free Maternal Care, would point at two things; the unrestricted greed among senior ministry officials ostensibly appointed to oversee operations by the government or, and worrying so, the complicity of government in abetting this thieving with the intention of siphoning money for 2017 campaigns that are almost here.

The latter, of course, would never be publicly admitted by anyone from past experience. The last time an official resigned over a similar-type corruption scandal, she elevated her game and is now set to take a shot at a gubernatorial seat with the capacity to manage much more than just public funds.

A positive out of this latest scandal, however, is the auditor’s insistence on an above-board audit process and the public informed of any attempts to cover-up the investigations into the missing funds. The health sector has enjoyed a relative period of progress and these latest development seek to point out just how bad things were under the uneasy silence. The county governments have been worst affected, having to own up the public image of opposition to noble government projects while, as we can now see, the rot was growing elsewhere with plunderers, not the least concerned about the effect of their actions on ordinary citizens without the financial capacity to pay medical bills. And just to put matters into perspective, KES 5 Billion would be a  hefty reprieve to cancer treatment, enough to buy 16 state-of-the-art cobalt cancer-fighting equipment to add to the only one available at the Kenyatta National Hospital.

Is Kenya winning the war against terror? 

I recently contemplated joining the army. Yet that’s where it ended, a contemplation. I respect the courage of these great men and women of the soil. The sacrifice they have made, and continue to make for this country has no price tag to match it. I recently watched the video on the El Adde attack that claimed more than 100 lives of these diligent soldiers (You can view the video here), and the corresponding cover-up by the government without publicly acknowledging the exact number of soldiers killed. I would consider this a betrayal of the cause for which these ardent young men and women enlisted. Is it time we brought our soldiers home? It is time we invoked an exit strategy out of Somalia. Our borders remain porous even with government claims that the building of a wall was underway. A wall which now, after public chest thumping and endless PR, looks nothing short of a wire meshed fence, and only for several kilometers along the border. In 2016, more than 2010, the number of youth crossing the border to join this war for our enemies skyrocketed. These youth, are crossing over the same borders we are securing to wage war against us. Ironic!

Leaders from North Eastern Kenya decrying Insecurity.

Leaders from North Eastern Kenya calling for increased government intervention.

Attacks on civilians have continued unabated. The border towns are under constant threats of Al-Shabaab attacks with some regions within our borders, less secure than similar towns within Somalia. Yes, we are in a war, but are we taking care of our people while at it?

The non-Muslim population in Mandera whether teachers or quarry workers, not to mention young thespians out to fork out a decent living and a few coins to spare continue to perish under our watch. Time and time again we have heard of intelligence reports of imminent attacks that were not acted on. The images of families torn apart by the ‘execution’ of their loved ones including breadwinners are stories of the average Kenyans out to eke a living for their dependants. They like hundreds of others becoming a historical statistic of the price of the Kenyan war on terror. Or the failures of the government and security agencies to protect its civilians.

A Clueless President?

Honesty is a virtue long admired in every human being. Few still embody this key mark of integrity. President Uhuru Kenyatta is among the few who fit into this bracket of ‘nobles’, we would all cheer him more if he listened to his soul and relinquished the powers bestowed on him by the voters as well. Let us look at this in a simpler way:

#CryBabyPresident?

#CryBabyPresident?

If you were to give me a job, with all the tools to effectively undertake that job. Then towards the end of the contract period, I come out to you, my employer, declaring my inability to do the job assigned to me, would it make sense if I asked for a new contract, to undertake the same job I had already confessed to being unable to perform in the first place? Honestly, if it were up to me, I would fire your sorry ass!

President Kenyatta last week just admitted to being clueless in his job. He is clueless about corruption, he is clueless about insecurity and until last week, he has been clueless about the conditions attached to the social contract that he swore allegiance to serve and protect.

All this, however, may not mean much to radicalized political supporters who care not to question such weighty matters. I would say political radicalization of intellectuals, is the worst form of radicalization the world can ever have. Far much worse than radicalization for the cause of terrorism. It hurts individuals capacity to make rational choices, rendering factual information secondary to ethnic allegiances and the fear for change.

The writer is a Research Consultant for Savic Consultants in Nairobi.

Even In Kenya, Gay Rights are Human Rights

gay

According to the Kenyan President, his excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, gay rights and the entire debate surrounding the matter is a ‘non-issue’. At least, that is the famous rejoinder he issued to President Obama’s assertions that, and I quote,”I believe in the principle of treating people equally under the law. And that they are deserving of equal protection under the law and that the state should not discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation,”

Kenya may be grappling with many other issues pertinent to the economy and to the well-being of its citizens but under no circumstances is a gay rights issue a non issue.

I recently engaged a number of friends and colleagues from different faculties and specializations on the issue over Facebook and one thing stood paramount, religion and culture were the greatest impediments to the understanding of the gay rights issue. Not really because the two exist, but rather, because those ‘deeply’ embedding their beliefs on the already established trends in religion and culture refuse to see any other way round the matter.

On a recent trip to Senegal, Obama reiterated, “When it comes to people’s personal views and their religious faith, I think we have to respect the diversity of views that are there, But when it comes to how the state treats people, how the law treats people, I believe that everybody has to be treated equally. I don’t believe in discrimination of any sort.” These assertions pretty much summarizes my opinions on the matter.

Kenya is not a theocratic state. Therefore, religious beliefs or the lack thereof cannot be the basis upon which all individual and national issues are pegged. And suppose we decide to take the moral authority over the society’s sexual orientations, then what would be the ideal treatment for the Gay and Lesbian community that grows in courage and numbers day by day? Prosecute and persecute them? Burn them alive on the stake? Life sentence behind bars? Death by the hangman’s noose or lethal injection or what?

It is okay to hold strong religious beliefs over human actions and interactions, but should we expect the same of the state that has the obligation to protect the interests(including rights and freedoms) of all its citizens without fear of favor?

I will probably be stoned for this but just to quote my status update on Facebook:

If we think the Bible is the solution to humanity’s problems, then Karl Marx could not have been any more explicit in his insinuations. More and more nations continue to see this. Does branding gays take the gayism away? In fact, the population has been on the rise. This is a people you will have to learn to accept and live with. Either way, they will thrive. They already have in the US. So what, burn them on the stake or throw them to jail?

These are rational beings most of whom choose to be gay. I know of several. Should I spit where they walk just because our sexual orientations differ? Hiding behind religion is not a solution to this sensitive issue. Let them be people, either way, if you don’t today, then others will tomorrow. Whether or not you use documentation, these people are here to stay. And they will not always be explained by the Internet or the Bible!

It is immoral to claim moral authority only when it comes to one issue. Do you castigate your cohabiting friends every morning you see them? Do you severe ties with them? Beyond that gay or lesbian is a judge, a teacher, a doctor, etc. Like Jesus said, only cast the first stone if indeed you are without blame.”

Human Rights issues cannot be undermined as a non-issue.  The state must take its stand on the matter and be counted either for or against. Either way, gay-ism and the entire gay rights issue is here to stay. We just have to figure out a way to live with it.

Ooko Victor