I’d like draw the attention of Professors Sam Ongeri and Karega Mutahi to an interesting occurrence in the United Kingdom this past week.
There’s a bloke called John Terry. He happens to be the captain of the West London Chelsea Football Club but more crucially, he’s the skipper (well… until Friday last week) of the English Football team.
The reason why Terry will not captain the English team during the World Cup in June is NOT because some money has gone missing from the team, but it is over the ‘little’ matter of an affair with the ex-girlfriend of England team mate Wayne Bridge.
On Friday, Terry held a 12 minute meeting with his manager Fabio Capello after which he was hurriedly and viciously reduced to the ranks. The decision was made after Capello ruled that “Terry’s credibility and ability to lead by example had been irreparably damaged.”
That decision was rational, striking and without much ado.
Last week, Terry suffered personal abuse from supporters at Burnley and Hull and there was a real and highly awkward prospect of England\’s captain being jeered had he led the team against Africa’s giants – Egypt, in a friendly at Wembley. Around the same time this episode was unfolding in the UK, Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga was telling the President to ask Professors Ongeri and Mutahi to vacate office to allow for investigations into the loss of Sh100 million from the Ministry of Education.
I think the PM picked the right moment to raise the issue since it was at a forum to discuss accountability and corruption in government. Do not get me wrong. No one has said the Minister and PS are guilty of any wrong doing. They can expect to resume their coveted jobs if exonerated of any faults. (Ask Amos Kimunya and Kiraitu Murungi how it works).
Both officials have shrugged off demands to step aside and instead choose to describe it as a political witchhunt. In fact there’s an argument that ODM ministers have never been asked to resign for any wrong doing. It reminds me of an instance in court when an accused person in his defence, argued that he was not the only one stealing. But that wasn’t the issue before the court.
The matter at hand is about the loss of money at the Ministry of Education. So let’s deal with it.
The situation Terry faced does not necessarily compare to what’s happening back here but we can draw lessons from it. If your credibility and ability to lead by example had been irreparably damaged then it may be necessary for you to step aside.
Professors Ongeri and Mutahi have been the subject of derision from Cabinet colleagues and the public at large. Future donors\’ funding to the important Free Primary Education Programme hang in the balance because of lack of accountability.
People in authority must learn it is time to take responsibility for what goes on under their watch. The buck cannot simply be passed back to junior officers.
If the two professors refuse to step aside, then their appointing authority needs to do a Capello on them. Or is the political will to fight corruption lacking?