June 23, 2017

LEADERSHIP IN KENYA: A RECYCLE BIN OF OPPORTUNITIES

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By Jeanne Ongiyo

Now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that the recent parastatal appointments done by His Excellency the President have sparked of feelings of doubt and a variety of unanswered questions in Kenya’s leadership system. It all seems like a case of recycling…changing waste products into new products to reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials. Let’s get things straight here before someone is falsely accused of calling someone else waste…that statement is purely metaphorical. But if the shoe fits…call a spade a spade right? Are we all calm now? Good!
So a number of respectable people in the society were earlier this week privileged to have new jobs! Not that they were previously jobless like some thousands of Kenyans I know everywhere but hey!… what the heck…more power to them at the end of the day. A new job is always a milestone in someone’s life and I believe it still is to these lucky individuals as well but why do we take such keen interest in this matter? First let me congratulate all the new appointees most of whom have appointments running for a period of three years…or even more. Hearty congratulations to the likes of Omingo Magara, Samuel Poghisio and Marsden Madoka. Here is what puzzles me though…
Allow me to take an example of Soita Shitanda for instance. He has now been appointed the Chairperson of the Agricultural Development Corporation revoking the appointment of one James Kapaito Toiyanga. He was previously barred from the 2013 Kakamega gubernatorial race due to a rather surprising and unfortunate reason…he allegedly did not possess a university degree at that time to get clearance from the electoral commission. The new devolved constitution that has been in effect since the 2013 general elections requires one to have at least a university degree to run as Senator or Governor. This is to clear the doubts of all those who were wondering how he even served as a Member of Parliament at one point in time. That was the past guys, this is the new Kenya! I am no expert in matters pertaining to education but I should presume that a university degree takes a minimum of 3-4 years to successfully complete which would also include a graduation. I also presume that handling such a job bestowed on Shitanda would be an up-hill task without a degree as according to my calculations; if he enrolled for a degree in 2013 he would probably be attending his graduation in 2016/2017.
We are all familiar with the number of graduates armed with degrees and masters and are still struggling to look for jobs. If such an opportunity presents itself I would deem it appropriate to give first priority to these unemployed youth who would otherwise resort to unorthodox means to earn a living and support themselves. I do not dispute the job being offered to Mr. Shitanda but I believe he was not idle or jobless at that very moment of appointment plus I would assume he has businesses he is currently managing to support his upkeep.

Omingo Magara was appointed Chairperson of the Kenya International Convention Centre Board. Born in December 1961, Mr. Magara will this year be celebrating his 54th birthday. I know old is gold and every year above ground is indeed a blessing but the number of qualified and unemployed youth and middle-aged Kenyans is rising by the day. With the average retirement age in Kenya being 55 –years aren’t we supposed to offer these opportunities to the young and vibrant youth who will subsequently provide manpower to yield development? After all, development benefits all Kenyans and not just a minority…at least as it should be. Or should we use persons of employable age up to the last possible moment near retirement?
Samuel Poghisio has been appointed Chairperson of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority Board. It is uncertain if he pursued any course related to Aviation in his school-life but that does not restrain me from making my point. All these positions should be given to people who have specialized in the given professions or at least have some previous experience in that particular field. An example is Linah Jebii Kilimo who has been entrusted with the position of the Chairperson of the Anti-Female Genital Mutilation Board. She comes from a region that is struggling to get rid of this menace therefore it is safe to say she has adequate knowledge of the task that lies ahead.
I do not dispute the allocation of duties to previous leaders and veterans but does it mean that we have insufficient manpower that we have to use what we had previously used up? Is our country limited to a specific group of people to hold prestigious offices within the state? Isn’t Kenya a land of the free and a land of opportunities? Should the youth sit waiting for jobs as they dust cobwebs from their degrees till they get old? This should not happen! Not unless the government offers jobs to the jobless first, the veteran politicians and businessmen alike should also take a back seat and support the youth to foster growth of the country. That is the only way to have peace and strike a balance in the country’s economy.

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