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Daily Nation : February 20th 2014
DAILY NATION Thursday February 20, 2014 Opinion 13 RIGHT OF REPLY | Mwenda Njoka Ahmednasir wrong about government strategy on fighting youth extremism of the Nairobi Law Monthly, Ahmednasir Abdullahi, made a number of fallacious claims on the government’s efforts to contain radicalisation among Muslim youths. On the face of it, the column, appropriately headlined “How to stop radicalisation of Muslim youths”, appears to be pegged on concern over an issue that is disturbing many. However, on further reading, it becomes apparent that instead of offering a solution, Ahmednasir digresses and heaps blame on the government. According to his theory, un- I employment, poor education, poverty, and other social factors that have been blamed for escalating the disillusionment that has pushed youths towards radical elements are “a mere spin” used by the State and the police to gloss over the problem. He blames the issue on infiltration of Muslim organisations by the State. Really? I don’t think so. Why would the State want to do that in full knowledge of the fact that it would cause youths to embrace radical ideologies? The State — or its security organs — has no desire or inclination to waste public resources infiltrating Muslim, Christian, Hindu, or any other organisations engaged in le- n his column last weekend in the Sunday Nation, senior counsel and publisher leaders, he is missing the real point by several miles. Any existing divisions are likely a creation of the dangerous times we live in. Some individuals try to use religion as a veil to carry out murder and destruction of property, while others within the same organisation do not agree that religion should be a shield for violence. That is the source of the split. Police on patrol near Masjid Musa after youth riots. gitimate religious activities. However, it is a legitimate and cardinal responsibility of the State and its security organs to ensure that the country and her citizens are secure from extremists trying to use religion to propagate hatred, mayhem, and murder. As the government and many others have said before, terrorism is not synonymous with any particular religion. Terrorism targets Muslims, Christians, Hindus, and people of other religions alike. As such, the fight against terrorism — where radicalisation of youths happens to be the sowing grounds for the demon seed — is not, and has never been, a fight against religion. When Ahmednasir accuses the government of creating a schism between Muslim Ahmednasir argues: “The absence of religious leaders (in mosques) leaves room for younger members and the youth to assume a leadership role, as was the case in Masjid Musa in Mombasa.” To reduce the sad story of Masjid Musa to the mere issue of “youth assuming leadership positions” (ostensibly in reaction to a vacuum created by the State) is being overly simplistic. I hold Ahmednasir in high esteem and know the capacity and abilities of the former chairman of the Law Society of Kenya. However, it is difficult to comprehend the intellectual basis of Ahmednasir’s contention that the State is responsible for the extremism and radicalisation among Muslim youths, yet it is at the receiving end of the results of those vices. It does not make sense unless the government is suicidal and is bent on destroying itself, a most unlikely proposition. Another wild allegation in Ahmednasir’s column is the claim that “The Kenya Government has an unofficial policy to extra-judicially kill Muslim leaders... in the past two years, more than 20 prominent Muslim leaders have been killed by State security agents.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. The State and its security agencies have no policy — official or otherwise — to kill innocent religious leaders. The State values the lives of all Kenyans, irrespective of religious orientation. The senior counsel’s prescription to the problem is equally flawed. “The Government must withdraw from mosques and madrasas,” he says. The government is not party to the internal politics of mosques and madrasas. The interest of the government and its security agencies is to ensure that all Kenyans live in a peaceful country. Ahmednasir should stop blaming the State for the problem of radicalisation of Muslim youths and instead strive to stop this dangerous trend by pointing out the ills of extremism, which is contrary to the basic tenets of Islam, the religion of peace. The writer is communications director, Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government. IMPEACHMENT | Isaac Masidza The Senate stepped in as the legislative house responsible for the devolved government and completed the action. The law courts were also pulled in, issuing an injunction that was ignored and now having governors petition them for an interpretation of the relevant law. This tussle must be haunting sitting Removal of governor a welcome eye-opener F ormer Embu Governor Martin Wambora lost the battle by his county assembly to impeach him. The Senate may have set in motion what could bring to fruition the aspirations of many Kenyans to rid the system of corrupt or incompetent leaders governors as their soft underbelly has been exposed. Kenyans can now expect less arrogance and impunity from that lot. Although Mr Wambora is just a fall guy in an irrelevant turf war between two levels of government, his impeachment is significant because it opens wananchi’s eyes to the fact that it is possible to send home elected leaders they are not happy with. The impeachment statute is not new; it has been in our law books even in the pre-2010 emasculated Constitution. The Legislature allowed it to remain because in their confidence and arrogance, the lawmakers found it inconceivable that it could be invoked. However, it has suddenly become clear that it is possible to impeach an elected leader. What are the implications of this? The rot in the county governments is not new and is replicated at all levels of government. Were Kenyans to take even a cursory glance at most procurement processes, disposal of public assets, land management, security operations, jobs in the public sector, indeed in all government structures where money is involved, they would surely unearth a sneaky deal. Secondly, the name of a Kenyan politician, past, present or aspiring, is likely to be embroiled in such deals. The politicians are not just at the county level; they will be found in the corridors of Parliament, the Senate, the Attorney-General’s chambers, the corridors of the law courts, and the seat of government. Influence peddlers crowd Kenyan institutions like vermin on a dung heap. The Senate may have set in motion what could bring to fruition the aspirations of many Kenyans to rid the system of corrupt, arrogant, or incompetent persons from sensitive positions of gov- ernance. It is now possible to remove an undesirable state officer. I am not sure if the senators were alive to the import of their vote. Indeed, one of them stated on the floor, “Ukiona mwenzako akinyolewa, chako kitie maji,” (when you see your neighbour getting a haircut, prepare your head). However, I know the wider public will look at the possibilities this opens. They may not have a platform to impeach leaders, and the crafters of the Constitution were alive to this fact. Embedded in the Constitution are provisions that make it possible to recall a non-performing representative. I know that the legislators have gone to great lengths to insulate themselves from public scrutiny by amending the law, but the one year the current administration has been in office is not nearly long enough to massacre the will of the people. The Embu governor’s tribulations may be a small matter in the larger picture of national debate. Indeed, the supremacy wars pitching the different levels of government may not appear to be of immediate concern to the public. However, the point has been driven home that there are ways to remove an incompetent elected leader from office. Isaac Masidza is a communication consultant. (email@example.com) Pupils in class. Some schools still have holiday tuition. PAINFUL ABSENCE. Just under a year since he left office, Joseph W. Ngugi says Othaya constituents are already missing their former long-serving MP, retired President Mwai Kibaki. “When he was in power, even though he didn’t come to Othaya Town that often, his presence was always felt. The town used to be clean, services in government offices, including the issuing of national identity cards, were fast, the roads didn’t have potholes, and we hardly experienced power blackouts.” His contact is firstname.lastname@example.org. TELEPHONE WOES. Mombasa resident Na- seem Hatimali Bana was elated when Telkom Kenya technicians restored her landline, No 0412223151, on January 16. But it was up for hardly a month, as it ceased to function on February 8, and on writing to customer care was assured that it would be fixed within three days. Well, it is still out of order and Naseem fears that she could be in for a long wait again, as happened the last time when the phone was out of order for four months. Her more reliable contact is email@example.com. COMMON SENSE. Aren’t the experts at the Treas- ury aware of the common sense that by increasing tax on the Senator beer brand, which is meant for the lowincome earners, fewer people will afford to buy and drink it, meaning less profit for East African Breweries? asks Elijah Chester Gakuo. And the consequences, he adds, will, of course, also be felt at the Kenya Revenue Authority as less tax will be remitted by the giant brewer. His contact is firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a sensible day, won’t you! E-mail: email@example.com or write to Watchman POB 49010, Nairobi 00100 Fax 2213946 THE CUTTING EDGE BY THE WATCHMAN WHAT SHORTAGE? Farmers in the North Rift grain basket, Jesang Kitur says, have been shocked to hear Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei announce that the country is facing a shortage of 10 million bags of maize, yet the National Cereals and Produce Board is reluctant to buy the produce from them. Farmers in Lessos and Eldoret, she adds, have spent sleepless nights waiting for 50-kg bags to package the maize. “The situation has been aggravated by the current rains. We need the bags now!” Her contact is firstname.lastname@example.org. IDENTIFICATION DILEMMA. Can the Kenya Commercial Bank explain to Stan Oduor why it does not accept the use of a “valid Kenyan passport” as an identification document when one seeks to open a bank account? Stan went to the KCB’s Ongata Rongai branch on Nairobi’s southern outskirts to open an account, but was turned away by the staff on producing his passport as they insisted on seeing his national identity card. “What is the reasoning behind this policy?” he asks. His contact is email@example.com. HOLIDAY COACHING. Many schools in Machakos County have been openly defying the government ban on holiday tuition, claims Charles Mwongela, adding that headteachers continue to levy what is referred to as a “coaching fee”. In Kangundo sub-county, he adds, parents pay Sh280 per pupil for the holiday instruction. If the bosses at the Ministry of Education headquarters in Nairobi are interested in the details, Charles can be reached through email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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February 21st 2014