Be aware Nkaissery, what happened to Ole Lenku could happen to you

December 5, 2014 OPINION/NEWS




Joe Khamisi

Unless something unthinkable happens – either he turns down the appointment or Parliament refuses to approve – Joseph Nkaissery is certainly headed to the Office of the President as the second Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordinator of the National Government.

Conversely, his namesake, Joseph Ole Lenku, the person he is replacing at Harambee House, is destined to go to the same oblivion pit as many other former Cabinet officials unless President Uhuru Kenyatta is magnanimous enough to offer him a soft landing in a public institution.

If one had told Ole Lenku a year ago to stay put in the hospitality industry and avoid the risks associated with public appointments, the former hotelier would probably have read mischief.

But let the truth be told. Senior public jobs in  Kenya are risky, stressful and thankless, and since they have no security of tenure, they are dangerously undependable. In the current constitution, the President is not encumbered by political baggage and can invariably choose anyone he wants from any background and fire him or her anytime without fear of political hazards.

In the case of Ole Lenku, his appointment to the sensitive position at a time when the country was already facing security threats was doomed from day one.

Few Kenyans believed a green-horn like Ole Lenku, a man who had never worked in the public sector before and one who was relatively unknown in security circles, could make any notable impact in an office previously occupied by such political giants as George Saitoti and John Michuki.

As a matter of fact, Kenyans felt cheated from the very onset and immediately began a campaign to malign him in every way possible. They insulted him in social networks and made fun of him publicly and privately, especially after the Westgate terrorist attack last September.

The campaign to discredit the Cabinet Secretary gained momentum after the senseless terrorist killings in Mpeketoni, Mombasa and elsewhere and culminated in the recent murders in Mandera and Wajir.

If there is one person in the Jubilee Government who has attracted so much venom and scorn, that person is, unfortunately, Joseph Ole Lenku. At the end, President Kenyatta had no option but to sack him along with the Inspector General, David Kimaiyo.

Only recently, I argued here that the departure of Ole Lenku and Kimaiyo would make no difference in the way Al Shabaab perceives Kenya. Kenya remains Al Shabaab’s greatest enemy. Without Kenya, the group will have no reason to exist.  So, anyone who thinks the attacks will cease because we have rid the security docket of its two most ridiculed officials must be daydreaming.

I am now beginning to think that the terrorist assaults from across the border have nothing to do with the presence of Kenyan troops in Somalia. Both Ethiopia and Uganda have troops in that war torn country but they have not seen the kind of attacks on the scale seen in Kenya,

My view is that the killings have roots in our own political and economic dispensations. Corruption in the police and immigration departments stands at the top of the list, followed by the scramble for the massive unexplored resources in Somalia by both Kenyan and Somali warlords and underground struggles for political power at home.

The connivance of Islamic jihadists both internally and externally with terrorist groups in recruiting jobless youngsters for service is also to blame.

The Kenya government must do what it has always intended to do, but has not done: close down the refugee camps in the north which serve as the breeding grounds for terrorist infiltration and recruitment; flush out and prosecute the financiers; and reorganise the security agencies from top to bottom.

At the same time, enact laws that would give our intelligence service powers to arrest and detain suspects immediately instead of referring to the corrupt police force for action.

A final word of caution to Major-General (Rtd) Nkaissery. Take the job, but be aware that you cannot fight terrorism alone from your posh perch in downtown Nairobi. And, don’t sit pretty as if the job is permanent and pensionable. What has happened to Ole Lenku could very easily happen to you.

By sacrificing a secure position as Member of Parliament for Kajiado to take up the hot seat, you are gambling everything you have worked so hard to achieve outside the military. So, let it work for you. Good luck, Joe.






Joe Khamisi

Joe Khamisi is a former journalist, diplomat and Member of Parliament. He is also the Author of the Politics of Betrayal:Diary of a Kenyan Legislator, a political memoir about the situation in Kenya between 2001, when the ruling party of President Daniel Arap Moi, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), merged with Raila Odinga’s National Development Party.

The book also narrates cases of corruption in Parliament and in the Media and records Senator Obama’s visit to Kenya in 2006. As a friend of Barack Obama Senior, the author also remembers the times and tragedies of the American-educated economist.

Joe Khamisi’s second book, a biography, ‘Dash Before Dusk’, has recently been published and is now on sale.

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In addition to the above books, Joe Khamisi blogs at and for media enquiries can be reached at [email protected]

(This article is courtesy of Joe Khamisi and was originally published at the above blog on 3rd December 2014)


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