Ole Lenku is not the problem

BY KAPLICH BARSITO As a nation we face monumental security challenges on multiple fronts; our safety is fragile and our peace under threat. Our challenges stem from a systemic morass in the security apparatus the dead obvious culmination of many years of inattention and a lack of investment in the tools, techniques, people and technologies required to make this country secure. Crime grew sophisticated, terrorism became a byword of waywardness and fear embedded itself within our midst – one may say our problem is more under security than insecurity. In the midst of these exacting and dangerous times it disheartens to note that Kenyans are consumed by far less important matters. The conduct of our national discourse on security has become a shallow and unhelpful debate on the person of the Cabinet Secretary of Interior Joseph ole Lenku as opposed to a healthy and robust argument on how to tame runaway crime and restore order within our borders. Kenyans have made it their unending task to disparage Ole Lenku and they have done so with gusto that is at best remarkable and at worst obsessive. You would think the way people are vilifying and caricaturing the Interior Cabinet Secretary it is as if the fire spitting monster that is insecurity will disappear by this effort alone, that our security challenges can be wished away or removed from us in one abracadabra move of throwing Ole Lenku out of office – a real world open sesame effect. This is not the case. This will not be the case. This will never be the case. The central problem with holding this view is that it is indicative of a horrible naiveté that makes one wonder if as a society we are remotely aware of the magnitude of what we are up against and what is required from us collectively to get past it. The get rid of Ole Lenku chorus hints at a remarkable ignorance and a dangerous one. Our borders are porous to both firearms and terrorists, our generosity to refugees is being abused, numerous key personnel are on the take from police officers to intelligence agents who sell peddle intelligence for cash and immigration agents who dish identity and employment documents to anyone who throws a tidy sum their way. This is the truth of our security system. The idea that our country will be safer today if Ole Lenku leaves office is a sorry manifestation of wishful thinking, especially given the fact that the President is unlikely to make that move. I am not defending the man nor am I excusing him from the various sins that the multitude has apparently convicted him of; I am merely suggesting that we are better served as a country by moving the debate along to more substantive issues instead of endlessly making the same jokes over and over again. We have a real problem to deal with; it’s in our best interests to focus our energies on that front. We are not losing lives because Joseph Ole Lenku does not do well in front of a microphone and terrorists are not running loose because Lenku is not tall or has a commanding voice – any pretense or suggestion to the contrary is an insult to our common intelligence. Indeed one must pay credit to Mr Ole Lenku for the steely determination to show up to work every day and keep the fight going. Perceptions are not the basis of the security game and they rightly should not be. We are facing the most daunting period in our history in terms of security; in terrorism we face an unrelenting and merciless enemy who must take a great deal of comfort in the fact that we cannot seem to focus our attention on stopping them. We must start to cause them a bit more discomfort in the way we react to heinous actions against this land. Let us respond with outrage and derision to terror attacks and crime sprees but to the perpetrators not the men and women responsible for securing our lives. If and when they make mistakes let us criticize them but do so for the sake of improvement and by all means let us not dwell or be fixated on the same for it is counterproductive. Let us instead apply ourselves to contributing to a safer Kenya by being vigilant and helping law enforcement officials with information and intelligence. When you are confronted by a major challenge the temptation for many is to hit panic but situations like the one we find ourselves in call for cool heads and steely determination directed towards implementing long term strategies to achieve long term solutions. As a society let us discuss the installation of CCTV cameras and modern surveillance equipment… let us discuss stricter control over articles of citizenship and the issuance of work permits to those who mean to cause us harm. Let us talk about the advantages of biometric registration of persons, the purchases of thousands of police vehicles and the recruitment of 10,000 police currently underway. Let us focus on these things because this is what Joseph Ole Lenku is actually doing, let us engage him on these matters because that is how we help ourselves-that is how we secure ourselves, our children and protect our way of life. (Barsito is a sociologist and a communication expert)

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