, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 2 – The National Assembly on Tuesday began vetting nominees for the positions of Director General of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) in addition to 20 Ambassadors and High Commissioners.
The vetting at the County Hall Chambers is being undertaken by the Defence and Foreign Relations Committee.
The Committee asked Major General Philip Wachira Kameru why he thinks he is best suited for the job and he explained that he was qualified to undertake the tasks assigned to him.
“Leadership in the military is not taken for granted because we expect our soldiers who go to battle to go knowing that we are going to take care of them as they take care of the front and so leadership is a qualification that you cannot avoid getting and if you don’t have it you cannot make it on the armed forces,” he said.
He further outlined his experience which he says will help especially in the fight against insecurity in the country.
“I have been working as the Director of Military Intelligence for over seven years and I have had other roles before that in the same organisation. The role of that institution is also to understand the national security environment,” he stated.
Major-General Kameru was nominated to serve as the NIS Director following the resignation of Michael Gichangi.
The better part of the three-hour approval hearing took place away from the glare of the cameras after the Committee Chairman Ndung’u Gethenji ordered the media and member of the public out of the Chambers to allow discussion on sensitive security issues.
Meanwhile, the issue of age emerged as a major concern during the House approval hearing for Prof Sam Ongeri and Ali Mwakwere who have been nominated to be Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the UN Habitat and Ambassador to Tanzania respectively.
National Assembly Members Ken Obura (Kisumu Town), Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini), Joseph Nkaiserry (Kajiado North) and Migori Woman Representative Danita Ghati asked Ongeri to decline the position to give opportunity to young Kenyans.
“Do you still have the energy, the drive, the passion and compassion that you can perform the job successfully?” posed Wamalwa.
“Professor, you have been there for four administrations, you were there during ‘Kenyatta 1’ and now ‘Kenyatta 2’… it is with due respect I ask you to decline this job and ask the President to appoint a younger person. Because you have heard the hue and cry from the youth who are graduating with degrees and still have to hit the tarmac (looking for a job)” said the Ghati.
But Ongeri who is 76 years old retorted that his age is not a major impediment as his spirit is still strong and he has no problem working with young people or officers who were his juniors when he was the Foreign Affairs Cabinet Minister.
“Age will not be a limitation for me to carry out my responsibilities. The spirit in me is the same spirit in you whether you are 80, 75 or you are 30,” said Ongeri who has previously served as the Representative to the UNEP and held several Cabinet dockets including Health, Education and Foreign Affairs.
Mwakwere was put to task over his age and political inclination as well as his vision to transform the hot-cold relationship between Nairobi and Dar- es-Salaam.
“Right now I am still a member of URP/Jubilee Coalition because I have no yet been offered ‘the job’, it will be tricky for me to move away from all those responsibilities that will cause some conflict at one stage or the other,” he said.
The Committee of Defence and Foreign plans to hold approval hearings for the 20 diplomats who were nominated by the President and then submit a report to the House for consideration.