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Saturday, April 14th, 2018


Promoting secure shelter for IDPs and resolving disputes in Nigeria

The armed conflict in the Lake Chad region has caused mass displacement in north-east Nigeria, forcing people to flee the violence and abandon their homes.

The majority of those displaced found shelter in “host” communities in safer locations. However, many people’s displacement is now stretching into three years or more, and the situation is exhausting their resources and those of the communities hosting them. This is leading to a number of challenges, among them an increase in disputes over housing, land and property.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) carried out an assessment across Borno and Adamawa states on the structures communities use to resolve disputes and how these are working with the arrival of so many internally displaced people. The results indicate that disputes over housing, land and property are undermining the self-reliance of internally displeaced people, making it harder for them to find shelter and gain or continue a livelihood, and exposing them to forced eviction and further displacement.

Executive summary

Armed conflict between Boko Haram and the Nigerian State in the north-east of Nigeria has resulted in significant displacement, with a total of 1.75 million internally displaced persons (IDP) in the region, over 90 per cent of whom are in the Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.1 Disputes between IDPs and host communities around housing, land and property (HLP) issues have increased in frequency, with a particular impact on the most vulnerable among the displaced, such as widows and women in general. The most prevalent issues are challenges in paying rent leading to eviction and inappropriate treatment of tenants by landlords, such as arbitrary eviction and failure to maintain properties. This assessment represents an effort to understand both how dispute resolution structures in the concerned regions address such disputes, and what interventions by the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA) programme could support them to function more effectively and better advance the HLP rights of the vulnerable.

Dispute resolution in the region has three different approaches with three broad options available for dispute resolution. First, at the level of the family and community, there are those with no designated role but who are broadly trusted, including religious figures. Second, customary leaders with governance functions who also receive complaints and engage in dispute resolution and mediation, most notably ward leaders (‘Bulamas’ or ‘Mai Anguwa’) and village heads (‘Lawans’ or ‘Mai Jimila’). While the customary sector is acknowledged in elements of statute (see below), its effectiveness emerges from its legitimacy and credibility in communities. Third, the statutory legal sector, comprising the police and courts, where federal and state law engage with identification, investigation and resolution of disputes or complaints, as well as any state-provided service such as alternative dispute resolution (ADR) or legal aid services. There are also other actors such as women’s organisations that work on issues connected with dispute resolution but cannot properly be considered to offer dispute resolution themselves. These may be referred to as supportive actors. While the family, religious and customary forms of dispute resolution are primarily defined and enforced through their social legitimacy, the last has a legislative mandate. Islamic legal principles inform all three forms in north-east Nigeria, with the legal sector including an Islamic (‘Area’) Court.

The assessment indicated that HLP disputes limit IDPs’ access to agricultural land and shelter, inhibiting self-reliance following the loss of homes and livelihoods. IDPs remain at risk of forced eviction and further displacement. Most IDPs are now living in unfinished buildings or renting houses from private owners and their HLP rights within host communities are uncertain. Vulnerable households cannot afford to pay for legal advice or representation to realise their rights. IDPs face insecurity of tenure, including forced eviction, as a result of poverty, the actions of landlords, challenges to ensure that rented homes were properly maintained, as well as issues linked to inheritance and divorce. In the mediation of disputes over such issues, IDPs often perceived that, as guests, they were not entitled to challenge the decisions of landowners taken in respect of their own land and as such did not pursue dispute resolution. There was also a perceived gender dimension with women believing they were discriminated against when seeking to resolve such disputes, in terms of both not being welcome to represent themselves to relevant structures and of not being treated fairly when they were heard. Whilst IDPs were often displaced as entire communities and thus had access to their own traditional leaders, these were disempowered by the fact that they were on territory where other leaders had authority. The impotence of displaced customary leaders was a huge frustration to them.

It became clear that there were also HLP disputes emerging in areas of IDP return due to the period of displacement. As return increases there will likely be a corresponding rise in such dispute, emerging from land and property having been left by owners for a period and others – sometimes themselves displaced – using those assets.

In developing a typology of dispute resolution structures, we note that these exist within the family and community, alongside the religious, customary and statutory regimes.
As such, we define three categories of dispute resolution structure:

  • Actors in the community who use their position to support dispute resolution, including elders, religious leaders, and IDP and women’s representatives. These are structures whose function is driven both by the respect they have in the community and by tradition, and often gendered and age-based structures that privilege older men.

  • Customary structures defined by tradition and accessing local leaders with long family histories of governance roles that are highly formalised but unofficial. These structures include a hierarchy in which local customary leaders defer to those at a higher level constituting what resembles an appeals system. Whilst such leaders are acknowledged in statute, the system is independent of the legal system.

  • The statutory system, including the courts and official alternative dispute resolution.

The data revealed that both IDP and host populations – and both men and women – generally have great confidence in the customary dispute resolution structures, much more so than the statutory legal system. Customary structures link traditional governance at the ward and village level, with leaders close to the communities from which they come, to senior emirs. Dispute resolution involves the local leaders bringing the parties together, collecting evidence and talking with witnesses and making a decision that the disputants can choose to accept or not. This is framed by the Hausa term sulhu representing reconciliation and deriving from a community-based consensual process, in contrast to the adversarial approach of the statutory legal system. If either party is unhappy with the decision it can be taken up to the next level of traditional governance, analogous to an appeal process. There is interaction however between the statutory and customary systems with courts giving weight to decisions of the Bulamas and Lawans.

A novel element of the legal system is the Amicable Settlement Corridor (ASC) in Borno state, which offers services in mediation, arbitration and the use of sulhu – the latter the most commonly used and based on Islamic law. ASC services are free, in contrast to most use of statutory courts where lawyers’ fees must be paid and often additional charges through endemic corruption.

An important element to the analysis offered is the way in which disputants and complainants navigate between the three major forms of dispute resolution (familial/ community-based, customary and statutory). This reflects both the decisionmaking behaviours of persons to whom a range of options are available, but also the interconnected nature of dispute resolution in Nigeria. Like in many other former colonies, the well-established customary governance structures were kept in place and allowed to continue to operate, with statute (imported by British colonial powers) recognising elements, but not the entirety, of their authority, legitimacy and powers. Resolution of some forms of community-level disputes were part of this recognised authority and is reflect in some provisions. In addition, the ‘repugnancy test’, applied by British courts in a number of colonies, introduced a way in which the decision of customary leaders could be subject to the review of statutory structures. While the colonial history of the repugnancy test is not without difficulty, its residual effect appears to have allowed a continuing conversation between the various forms of dispute resolution. In the contemporary landscape of dispute resolution in north-east Nigeria, it offers an important route to ensuring that the options available to disputants and complainants both serve their interests but also are consistent with their rights.

The customary system was cited by most as their preferred route to dispute resolution, with one advantage being the ease of physical and financial access the structures offer: it was reported that ward and village leaders were readily accessible and did not demand fees, in contrast to the demands of the statutory system – in terms of both bribes and legal fees. Limitations on the perception of women of actual options available to them did arise, however, from senior family members and community elders potentially seeking to prevent women approaching such structures, with married women in particular expected to be represented by their husbands. The extent to which the quality of process offered by the customary structures was appropriate for women was disputed, with some arguing that male leaders are fair to women and others reporting that discrimination was routine. Given that the customary system is embedded in a patriarchal system, in which Islamic law is often misrepresented and governed entirely by men, it is unsurprising that cases were heard in the assessment of women not being treated fairly in dispute resolution.

Joseph Kinyua blocks Ipoa from hiring new CEO

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State House has stepped in to avert a looming leadership crisis at the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa) by ordering the board to suspend the recruitment of a chief executive.

In a letter to Ipoa board chairman Macharia Njeru, Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua expresses concern that the board may not be through with the exercise before their term expires in May.

“The term of the current membership of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority expires on May 2018.

“This office has information that you are in the process of recruiting a chief executive officer, a process that may not be complete before May,” Mr Kinyua’s March 28 letter reads.

The letter adds: “It has therefore been decided that the process to fill the vacant position of chief executive officer in your office be suspended until the incoming committee is in place.”

Ipoa asked qualified Kenyans to apply for the position of CEO on March 20 after the former holder of the position, Dr Joel Mabonga, withdrew his letter seeking an extension of his term.

The move by Dr Mabonga to withdraw his letter points to the souring relationship between the secretariat and the board over a period of time.

The outgoing CEO is now on terminal leave pending his formal exit on May 31, just a week after the current board’s term expires.

Ipoa’s business services director Maina Njoroge is currently the acting CEO.

Mr Njeru declined to give a direct response to the directive by Mr Kinyua or what his board was planning to do with the applications that may have been received.

“I will not discuss with you internal matters of the board. It would help if you focused more on issues that relate to holding police to account for their actions in accordance with Article 244 of the Constitution.

“My firm conviction is that the public will benefit more from responsible journalism,” he said.

In a further response, Mr Njeru said his board understands its roles.

“As a board, we have throughout our term served our country as a patriotic duty and were only motivated by doing what is in the best interest of the public,” he said.

With both the CEO and the board leaving at almost the same time, the agency will be left with only the secretariat under the leadership of an acting CEO.

Diaspora opposes Govt’s move to mine qualifications data

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The Kenyan embassy in Washington, DC early last week sent out a circular asking Kenyans living abroad to fill out some forms disclosing their skills for a variety of reasons.

The information is to be captured in a matrix provided by the embassy and submitted on or before Tuesday, May 15.

The circular said that as part of the implementation of the Diaspora Policy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had initiated a programme to develop a skills database of Kenyan professionals, academicians, experts and successful businesspersons in the diaspora.

“This exercise is not only aimed at collecting information for planning purposes but also take stock of key skills available outside the country that the ministry can leverage for national development as envisaged in the Diaspora Policy and Kenya Vision 2030.”


Because the request was released without any prior explanations or ceremony associated with the release of such information, the circular has been received by its targeted group, the Diaspora, with suspicion and mistrust at best and outright scorn at worst with many suspecting sinister motives.

“A request like that targeting people’s personal data especially in a place like the US where many people fear such data could end up in the wrong hands should have been preceded by an elaborate civic education in terms of why the government would need such information.

“As it is, this thing just started circulating on the internet,” Johnson Sakwa, a postgraduate student at Delaware State University in Dover, Delaware, said.

Many Kenyans in the US are asking pointed questions like, why doesn’t the government utilise local skills in Kenya in view of the fact that there are many Kenyans with different skills who are currently unemployed?

They are wondering why is it that the government seems to view the Kenyan Diaspora only in terms of what it could mine from them but when it comes to their rights to vote for instance, the government is silent?

These are the questions that Kenyans in the Diaspora are asking online since the circular came out.

Kenyan born New York City resident Peter Kerre said the embassy should first share with the diaspora any data indicating that the skills the government is seeking from the diaspora are not available back in Kenya.

“To the best of our knowledge, there are thousands of very qualified Kenyans with both work experience and advanced degrees within Kenya seeking employment. Have you announced to them the opportunities for which you want to recruit us?” he asked.

Mr Kerre said that on June 2014, after years of battle in the courts between the Kenyan diaspora and the Kenya government, the Kenyan Court of Appeal ruled that the government was to immediately facilitate the diaspora to vote as per the Kenyan constitution. They did not do so.

Richie Nyabuto doubts the government’s sincerity saying he is one of those who relocated to Kenya from the diaspora with multiple degrees thinking they’ll land big jobs only to get there and be disappointed.

“We who came back to Kenya with all the acquired skills tried to get into the civil service but we were never called upon. With three degrees, I wonder what kind of educated people they needed,” he said.

But Mkawasi Mcharo-Hall, former Kenyan Community Abroad (KCA) president, said the undiplomatic way in which the government is approaching the issue notwithstanding, the information sought is important.

“Why the duplication of efforts?” she asked adding, “For years, we’ve been at this fruitlessly knocking on Embassy’s doors to support mutually beneficial efforts. It needs a partnership with diaspora groups that have been championing the same effort for years.”

The madhouse that is Sonko’s  City Hall office 

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When he appeared for a live interview on Kameme FM last Monday, Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko was in a foul mood.

Sonko alleged that he was being undermined by some senior government officials who never believed he could become the Nairobi governor.

He singled out Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho as one of the officials who he claimed have been intimidating and threatening him after he refused to yield to their demands on who should become the deputy governor.

“Two weeks ago I was saved by the President when the same people threatened to take down my business with my sister. They wrote me a letter which I later handed over to the President who told them to stop the petty issues.”


“A PS is a very small person and has no right to intimidate me, threaten or tell me what to do. I only take orders from President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto,” Sonko charged.

It was not the first time the governor was invoking the President’s and the DP’s name. It has become his modus operandi, with those close to him revealing that it is the governor’s way of intimidating perceived political enemies.

In what is fast becoming his management style, the governor on Tuesday sacked his executive committee member in charge of Finance, Mr Danvas Makori, accusing him of working with his enemies.

This is a man he had personally defended when critics questioned his nomination. “He is a pastor, a man of God, you can trust him to manage the docket well,” argued Sonko then.

It was the second time  Sonko was shuffling the Finance docket, first held by Vesca Kangogo who was replaced by Mr Makori during the February reshuffle.

According to insiders who sought anonymity for fear of attracting reprisals from the governor, top officials in the Sonko administration live in constant fear of losing their jobs.

“Nobody is safe here, you never know when you will be fired, we are being monitored all over, we are under constant surveillance, there are CCTV cameras in our offices, our phones are tapped, there are spies all over us, whether in office or out there in the bar,” said a top official.

Sonko’s penchant for sidelining his CECs and chief officers and instead using political allies and powerbrokers to run the county’s affairs has also come under sharp criticism.

One such man is one-time Kamukunji MP Simon Mbugua, who is regarded along City Hall corridors as the power behind the throne.

At one time, Members of the County Assembly petitioned the governor to make clear, if any, the roles Mr Mbugua was  playing in his administration due to his frequent visits and claims he was intimidating them.


The former Kamukunji MP would later retort: “I am a great friend to Governor Mike Sonko. I have never in any way meddled in the operations of the county.”

Mr Mbugua, now a member of the East African Legislative Assembly based in Arusha, Tanzania, was also blamed for the sudden resignation of former Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe on January 12 this year.

Mr Igathe had differed with Sonko over the latter’s management style.

The governor had earlier maintained that he was in very good terms with Mr Igathe after word leaked that the two were not seeing eye to eye.

He even released a recording of his conversation with Mr Igathe, informing him that he had withheld payments worth millions of shillings due to some road construction in the city because of cost inflation by acting Chief Finance Officer Ekaya Alumasi.


In the conversation, Sonko urged his deputy on the phone to attend the NTV interview with Mark Masai and tell Nairobians the truth about the issue of garbage collection and assure them that they will transform the city.

Later Sonko was overheard telling some unidentified person that Mr Igathe was a “very good guy.” “There are some people who are out there to spoil for him, but he is a good guy altogether,” the governor claimed. A day later, Mr Igathe was gone.

Sonko’s erratic nature is best illustrated through an incident one Wednesday morning in February this year when he abruptly stepped out of a meeting with senior Transport ministry officials in his office and dashed to his private dining room to ask its occupants to shut up as their “noises” were interfering with the deliberations.


“The guy is chaotic by nature, there is no privacy in his office, his confidantes, Shaw (Peterson Kimenye) and Jamal (Otieno Ombok) are all over the place, even when the governor is in a meeting with a guest,” notes one of his confidantes who also requested not to be named for fear of losing his job.

At some point, one is opening a drawer or bringing the governor a power-bank as the other adjusts the volume of the TV while the governor engages his guests.

At another point, Sonko is barking out orders at a leader of a matatu sacco or quarrelling with staff who have not performed a task he assigned the previous day. Next he is summoning the head of inspectorate to his office accusing him of working with his enemies.

This is what the staff at the office of the governor of Nairobi, one of Africa’s largest and most important metropolises, have become accustomed to.

Sonko’s typical day begins at 5am, or thereabouts, depending on how late he stayed up the previous night. When he arrives in the office, he is brought breakfast from a nearby hotel, his favourite sausage and eggs being part of the helping.

He then calls for the list of guests waiting to see him and does a shortlist of those he will attend to. The rest are asked to come some other day.

The governor was in the news last month when he posted on social media the new reporting times for his CECs.

In the tweet, Mr Sonko directed that all CECs would report to work at 5am and that cabinet meetings would henceforth start at 5.3 am.

From 10 am, most of his meetings are punctuated with glasses of Cognac, his favourite brand. And, being a master of camouflage, next to the glass is always a package of  apple juice. You can hardly tell he is in fact enjoying his whisky unless you’re an insider.

Occasionally, a number of Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) join in for a drink as the day wears on.

“What got me worried when I started working for him is the idea of drinking in the office. Yet interestingly, his confidence level increases and the tone changes once he has taken considerable amounts of the drink,” a senior officer said.


Multiple interviews with current and former City Hall staffers, some of whom started with him as Makadara lawmaker, revealed a complex personality that may appear easygoing with the masses but hard to please at work.

“When you take, say, 10 issues to him, by the time you are on the third item, he has lost concentration. He will begin checking his WhatsApp messages or log into Facebook for updates on things that are trending. And all his handlers know this. The moment you see that happen, you will be wasting your time if you continue talking to him,” an individual familiar with Sonko’s operations told the Sunday Nation.

“He has no regard for procedure, process or protocol. He does what he wants, when he wants, how he wants it and with whom he wants it,” another aide said.


The kind of chaos and congestion in the corridors that characterised his senatorial offices on the 25th floor of Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) followed him to City Hall.

The number of people seeking audience with him starts swelling as early as 5am. Yet he does not keep a diary. This, our sources say, often leads to clashes in schedules.

 “There was a day we were meant to meet an ambassador in town but, a few minutes to the agreed time, we suddenly saw him live on Facebook from Mukuru slums. It was chaos,” one of the handlers recalls.

One of Sonko’s ministers told the Sunday Nation in confidence that cabinet sittings are never without drama.

“In the middle of a serious discussion, he may remember that he was to send someone money, picks his phone and starts giving instructions to the person on the other end. You have to wait for him to finish,” said the CEC.


But the county chief says all is well between him and his officers. “We are all firm and working as a team. I know it will hurt many since I have sealed all corruption loopholes,” he said in an earlier interview.

Another handler lamented that there are occasions they stumble on intelligence they feel their boss needs to know but his template response is a morale killer.

“He then concludes that you can only be working with his detractors to be able to come across the information in question,” the source stated.

With sackings being the order of the day, some senior staffers said they are constantly worried that the governor could be recording their conversations for use against them in future.

“There’s a day someone in his office tipped him about an extortion ring in some of the city’s markets; he not only recorded their conversations but went ahead to play it to the very culprits. In the end you feel cheated and betrayed,” another source said.


Presiding over a budget expected to cross the Sh40 billion mark this year, Sonko could be rivalling heads of states like Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza whose 2017/2018 budget is estimated at Sh75 billion.

Sonko’s manoeuvre into City Hall included shedding tears on TV in the run-up to the Jubilee Party nominations. He claimed some people were trying to deny him the ticket yet he had fought for President Kenyatta more than anyone else. This “fight” included leading mobs to do acrobatics at The Hague while wearing T-shirts emblazoned with abusive words targeted at the International Criminal Court.

In the end he had his way at the polls, whitewashing his challenger Peter Kenneth, who was campaigned for by President Kenyatta in the early days of the duel.


This State House shadow appears never to have left him. When  State House Comptroller Kinuthia Mbugua visited him at his offices on Wednesday, the governor’s body language didn’t portray a man at ease with himself.

We gathered that Mr Mbugua had gone to have the governor reinstate Mr Peter Kariuki as the county secretary. Seconded by State House, the governor had declined to appoint Mr Kariuki  even after the Assembly approved his nomination. He has since rescinded the move.


Sonko has struggled to mend fences with those who opposed his bid with reports that it is Deputy President William Ruto who strongly came to his aid. His claims, two weeks ago, that some Central Kenya politicians were busy, through night meetings, plotting how to block Mr Ruto’s ascension to State House in 2022, has only worsened the relationship.

Further complicating matters are recent developments that have seen President Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga closing ranks politically. The tectonic shifts radically change the dynamics in the city county assembly where President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga jointly command an overriding majority. Should relations deteriorate, analysts believe, the governor will be in a precarious position.

Sonko did not respond to our numerous calls and messages sent to his mobile phone number to respond to the accusations levelled against him. 

Why Kenyans want to leave their homeland

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As activist Miguna Miguna dramatically fights to return to his nation of birth, some Kenyans would prefer to leave quietly the huge prison they think their country has become.

In multiple interviews with the Sunday Nation, Kenyans cited graft, tribalism, and impunity as the main push factors for leaving, but the respondents seemed unaware of the difficulties awaiting them abroad if they landed there without the kind of skills Mr Miguna boasts as a Canadian-trained lawyer.

Seemingly envious of the dehumanised Mr Miguna, Kenyan youth wish they had an opportunity to be anywhere other than their homeland.

The Kenyan-born, Toronto-based, political activist was deported for the second time over a week ago despite High Court orders to allow him in.

Trev Kamau, 25, wishes he was the one being shoved onto a plane and taken to Finland as soon as possible because he cannot find a job in Kenya, thanks to corruption.

A study released recently by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission reveals that graft is endemic across the country, with the police leading the sleazy pack.

Mr Kamau comes from an upper-middle-class family living in the upscale Runda estate.

“You have to bribe for any service in this depressing failed state we call our country,” he says.

Cushioned by his ethnicity and class from what most Kenyans go through, Kamau doesn’t understand what poorer youth in Mathare, Kayole, Kibera, and rural outposts experience in search of daily bread.

He’s not alone in trying to seek a better life away from home.

A study last month by the Pew Research Center indicates that more than half of Kenyans (54 per cent) would love to relocate to a different country.

Those who have left the country say life is better out there, especially because of higher-quality housing, education, and healthcare.

Assaya Imaya, a Kenyan living in London, says he never knew what he was missing when he contentedly lived in Nairobi after graduating from the University of Nairobi.

“I first moved to Malawi and I was able to lead a life I could hitherto only envision in wild dreams: a big house, a car, eating out. I had never imagined going on holiday until I stepped out of Kenya,” he says.

Standing well over six-foot tall, Mr Imaya can jump across puddles of water and sewage on Nairobi streets with more ease than most Kenyans.

He is not just about to leave the leafy South-Croydon suburb and return to his beloved country of origin to suffer bad services.

He says he’s yet to see a pothole in his London neighbourhood, and if he complained about anything, the authorities would listen to him and act immediately.  

As unemployment rises to over 40 per cent among Kenyan youth due to corruption and political uncertainty, leaving the country has become the only valid dream for most of them.

“To get a job in Kenya you must come from the politically correct tribe, and all other qualifications are secondary,” Wilson Kaikai, an economist with an international development organisation, says.  

He alleges that “corruption is so pervasive that for one to join the police, one must pay up to Sh400,000 in a bribe”.

This creates a vicious cycle of theft.

Once you fork out such huge bribes, you are forced to engage in corruption to recoup your money and pay your seniors interminable protection fees to survive on the job, Mr Kaikai says.

The ruling class has managed to desensitise youth not to bother fighting for a better Kenya or for anything for that matter — except when there is some looting from fellow poor people to be done in the melee.

In memes, youth made fun of the dehumanising images of a fighting Mr Miguna being dragged into a plane.

They seemed to wonder why he was resisting, instead of sprinting to the aircraft ahead of his tormentors and the pilot, never to come back to a sordid life of poverty in Kenya.

They thought him lucky to have Canada as a place he could call home, away from this heart of darkness, where only corruption, police brutality, and government ineptitude can flourish.

Young people see no hope in Kenya, as local and international cartels have worked to ensure only bad politicians can thrive in positions of power to facilitate theft.

Except in a few opposition zones, most Kenyan politicians likely to be calling the shots in the next 20 years are either well-known mentally unstable drunkards, drug peddlers, lords of impunity, tribal war-mongers, or land-grabbers with international criminal records.

Lilly Okech Richards, a Kenyan based in New Jersey, slightly disagrees.

She says Kenyans cannot blame the leaders “entirely” because it is “unrealistic to expect a government to do everything for us”.

Ms Richards, originally from Uyoma in Siaya County, now heads an organisation called Kwitu (Kenyan Women in the US) to support and empower Kenyan immigrant women.

Life is not always smooth in the western countries most Kenyans want to flee to.

The price of basic goods and services is about 50 times higher than in Nairobi, but the salaries will not be proportionately fatter.


A spot-check by Sunday Nation around Chicago revealed that an avocado costs an equivalent of Sh500, while a one-bedroom apartment will set you back around Sh200,000.

Our respondents abroad said racism remains a reality in developed countries.

Anti-immigration rhetoric from ultra-right politicians has reached fever-pitch in most of the possible destinations for Kenyans.

Adjusting to life abroad is hard because Kenyans are used to chaos, violence, and bad smells.

According to Mr Imaya, the learning curve is steep.

“It takes time to understand the system and to transform from the Kenyan way of life, including unlearning bad driving habits.”

All eyes now on Nairobi after Nyeri gets deputy governor

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Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko is under renewed pressure to name his deputy after his Nyeri counterpart picked Ms Caroline Wanjiru Karugu on Thursday.

In recent weeks, Sonko has given hints that he had a list from which to pick a replacement for Mr Polycarp Igathe – who controversially resigned in January – indicating that the preferred candidate should be a woman and a technocrat with roots in Central Kenya. 


“I know that the deputy governor post should go to a Kikuyu because they have a large population that supported me but let me appoint a Kikuyu I want, a technocrat, a professional and an elite. I already have names and I will give it to a woman but I need to consult first,” said Sonko this week during a radio interview, indicating he will discuss the decision with President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.

Notable among the names which have been hitting the headlines as possible contenders for the deputy governor’s seat are former Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru, controversial businesswoman Agnes Kagure, former Kiambu  Woman Rep Ann Nyokabi, and Ms Karen Nyamu. Also mentioned were East African Legislative Assembly MP Simon Mbugua, former Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru and former Nairobi Town Clerk John Gakuo —who now appears ruled out on gender consideration.

But Sonko’s recent proclamation has stirred speculation that Ms Kagure and Ms Nyokabi stand a higher chance of being picked.

Ms Kagure is a businesswoman and an  insurance executive while Ms Nyokabi, who is President Kenyatta’s cousin,  has qualifications in political science and finance.

Bishop Wanjiru contends that she had a memorandum of understanding with Governor Sonko that she would be considered for the position before Mr Igathe was picked, ostensibly at the urging of State House. 


To buttress the intense lobbying involved in the process by powerful individuals, business community, power brokers and political operatives close to the presidency, Governor Sonko has also accused some principal secretaries of trying to arm-twist him into considering their “people”.

He said the civil servants were the same people who did not want him to be Nairobi governor. Sonko claimed that Interior PS Karanja Kibicho is among the people who are now threatening and intimidating him on whom to name as deputy governor.

“I already have names and I will give it to a woman but not what Karanja Kibicho wants me to do. Let him do the work the President gave him,” Sonko said in the interview this week.

When Uhuru spoke on genesis of his discomfort with the media

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My first and only eyeball to eyeball contact with Mr Uhuru Kenyatta was when he was minister for Local Government in the twilight years of the Daniel arap Moi presidency.

It was an informal meeting arranged by his personal assistant, Mr Geoffrey Gachagua, who is today MP for Mathira constituency.

I was a senior writer at the Daily Nation and had been invited to see Mr Kenyatta with Mr Mwangi Chege, who was News Editor at the People Daily before it was acquired by the Kenyatta family.

Mr Kenyatta was on his first presidential campaign in 2002 as the Kanu candidate in an election he lost to Mr Mwai Kibaki of Narc.

His campaign had not been receiving the best of media coverage and he wanted to informally hear from insiders what it is he wasn’t doing right.

We found him, to use the words of retired President Kibaki, in a foul mood.

The previous day, a section of Central Kenya politicians led by Cabinet minister Ngenye Kariuki had led disruptive demonstrations in Thika town to support Mr Kenyatta’s candidacy.

The media reported the noisy youth were members of the outlawed Mungiki sect.

Despite not being in the best of moods, Mr Kenyatta received us with courtesy.

To make the session as informal as possible, he invited us to sit with him at the coffee table not at his official desk.

The man has a firm handshake and ability to make a stranger feel at ease.

“Welcome Kamau and Mwangi; my PA, Geoffrey, tells me you’re his good friends. Now tell me, why is it that the media is so unfair to me?” he opened the discussion.

The incident the previous day had really got into his nerves and he was looking for a chance to ventilate.

“Look my friends,” he said, “I didn’t organise the demonstrations in Thika.

“The fellows who did so didn’t even have the courtesy to inform me in advance.

“I definitely would have rejected the idea outright and told them if they must demonstrate they do so in their home town and not mention my name at all.

“But see what the media has gone to town with: That it’s Uhuru who organised the demonstrations! Yet nobody from the media contacted me or my people. We just woke up to read about it in the newspapers! How unfair can media get!”

What annoyed him most was the association with Mungiki. 

A few weeks earlier, another group still calling itself Mungiki had denounced him in the city centre and burnt his effigy outside Jomo Kenyatta mausoleum.

“The other day another group still calling itself Mungiki demonstrated against me.

“Now a different group is purporting to demonstrate in my name. Can’t the media investigate and tell us who the so-called Mungiki is? Are these simply not jobless youths misused by selfish politicians?” he fumed.

He went on that he would be naïve to be associated with Mungiki in a majority Christian country as they would cost him votes.

He then referred to the one event that damaged his relationship with the media perhaps more than any other.

Days to voting in the 1997 General Election when he vied as MP for Gatundu South, his rival and incumbent MP Moses Mwihia was allegedly kidnapped in a crowded city street, “killed” and his “blood-stained” vehicle abandoned not far from the Kenyatta family ancestral home in Gatundu.

The entire plot sounded amateurish. That a candidate would have a rival, a sitting MP, kidnapped at daytime in a busy city street, killed and his car abandoned next to one’s home.

All the same, the media made headlines of the story without much effort to ask probing questions, much less seek Mr Kenyatta’s side of the story.

The kidnap story turned out to be a hoax. But the damage was already done. Mr Kenyatta lost the election by a wide margin.

Apparently he never forgave the media. Or even if he did, he never forgot.

His litany of complaints that morning didn’t end there.

He was also bitter the media had declared him “a project” of President Moi.

He singled out a newspaper that had taken to doing caricatures of him as a toddler in nappies and Mr Moi putting a feeding bottle in his mouth.

“Look my friends,” he said, “Of all the presidential candidates in this (2002) election, I am the only one who went to college to study political science.”

Other notable candidates were Mr Kibaki, an economist, and Simeon Nyachae, who trained in provincial administration. 

Mr Kenyatta told us that right from college, he had resolved he would be in active politics one day.

He said that when he returned from the US in 1985, his first priority was to get a means of livelihood, then a family, before thinking politics.

His first job was as a teller at the city’s Kipande House KCB branch with a monthly salary of Sh3,000.

Then he founded a company to source and sell horticulture produce.

“I would personally fetch the produce in a pickup truck and learned how to evade speeding miraa vans on the Nairobi-Meru highway,” he joked.

He told us that if President Moi was supporting him in that election, “it is because I have shown interest and he has seen the right qualities in me”.

At that juncture, I told him I had first seen him in the early 1990s at the Parklands cemetery during the burial of freedom fighter JM Desai, and where I overheard the doyen of opposition politics, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, invite him for a cup of tea at the old man’s office.

I asked Mr Kenyatta whether he honoured the invitation.

“Yes, I remember the occasion,” he replied. “Actually I went to see him (the elder Odinga) at his Agip House office.

“Now, if I was a political creation of Mzee Moi, should I have gone to see Mzee Odinga that time at the height of the multiparty crusade which the President didn’t want to hear about?”

After he’d related his frustration with the media, we asked him whether he thought it important to have an informal session with senior media managers to tell his side of the story.

He replied it might be a good idea but he was cautious that he didn’t want to be seen like he was lobbying for undue favours.

“I don’t even need favourable coverage. All I’d ask for if I were to meet them is fair coverage,” he said.

I never got to know whether such a meeting took place.

We were also of the opinion that he needed more people with hands-on newsroom experience in his media team.

At the time, his team was mainly former government functionaries and some family members.

At least he did that in his second presidential campaign for his successful 2013 election when he brought on board hard-nosed media operatives who included my good friend Mr Munyori Buku.

But the President’s uneasiness with the media lingers even though at times it appears he has decided to live and let live.

If President Kenyatta is uneasy with the media, his younger brother has allergy for it.

An interesting incident I remember is one evening when I was coming down the staircase and Mr Muhoho Kenyatta was going up for a board meeting at his family-owned media house where I worked not too long ago.

A photographer was about to take a picture of him and he literally took a flight over the stairs to stop him.

“Never take my picture,” he cautioned. “You can fill the whole newspaper with my brother’s photos but never use mine!”

As we left Mr Kenyatta’s office at Jogoo House that day in 2002, I met a fellow who knew me in the lifts and he whispered in my ear: “Amewachotea ngapi?” (How much money has he given you?).

My reply: “Ni sisi tumemchotea! (It’s us who have given him money). I doubt he got the message.

But I pitied candidate Kenyatta. If all those people jamming his waiting room every day came for handouts, I figured the young man would be broke before the end of the campaigns!

Ruto camp fires warning shots on 2022 after Raila-Moi forum

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A few hours after opposition leader Raila Odinga visited retired president Daniel arap Moi at his Kabarak home, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale fired a warning shot that revealed the thinking in Deputy President William Ruto’s camp.

“Those visiting mzee Moi are allowed to go and tell him pole (sorry) because he served us for 24 years,” Mr Duale said on the floor of the House on Thursday afternoon.

He then warned: “But those who intend to be in the 2022 race, you don’t need such visits. Come and face us.”

At 93, Mzee Moi is still a powerhouse in Rift Valley politics.

Being an expert in the game of political chess, the former Head of State can alter the landscape.

The official reason Mr Odinga visited Mzee Moi was to wish him quick recovery after a knee surgery in Israel last month.

But 2022 politics and the place of Mr Moi’s son, Baringo senator and Kanu chairman Gideon Moi, could not escape political observers.

“There are discussions to have Raila endorse Gideon Moi in 2022, I can tell you that,” Tiaty MP William Kassait Kamket, who attended the two-hour meeting, told the Sunday Nation.

“I do not know how this will pan out, but I can tell you, in the meeting, 2022 was definitely in the picture.”

Kanu secretary-general Nick Salat, who was also present at the meeting, described it as “very good.”

“For us, as Kanu, the gesture by Raila to visit Mzee was well received.

“We want to play our part in bringing this country together. It had become a situation where you could smell division. You could touch the hatred,” Mr Salat said.

Though he refused to divulge whether the two leaders discussed 2022 politics, and specifically Gideon Moi’s own campaign, Mr Salat asked those worried by the visit to calm down.

“People should calm down. It was just a handshake! What is this panic about?

“What are people worried about? You mean Mzee can’t meet people? What we talk about is: Oh, he is fighting someone,” he said.

Were Mr Odinga to endorse Mr Gideon Moi for the top job in 2022, observers say, Mr Ruto, arguably the direct Jubilee candidate in the polls, might be the biggest loser.

While Senator Moi is no match for the Deputy President on his own, backing by Mr Odinga could thrust him onto the national stage.

And there is another problem caused by the Raila-Moi relationship: The opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa).

Nasa co-principal and Mr Odinga’s 2013 and 2017 elections running mate Kalonzo Musyoka on Friday downplayed the significance of the meeting.

Indeed, were Mr Odinga to endorse any other person, let alone Senator Moi, Mr Musyoka’s own chances at the top job would be severely damaged.

“I must congratulate my brother because I saw him going to visit Mzee Moi. I also want to go and see Mzee Moi.

“I think Uhuru should also go and see him because I don’t think he has seen him yet since he (Moi) came from Israel. If you read something beyond that, I don’t understand it,” Mr Musyoka told journalists on arrival from Azerbaijan where he had led an election observer mission.

And so Mr Odinga finds himself at the centre of a vicious succession battle for an election four years away.

If he does not run, he might be the most valuable kingmaker.

On one side are his Nasa co-principals who insist that he must honour their deal and back one of them in 2022.

And on the other is Mr Ruto, who has set his eyes on the prize and who, it appears, will furiously oppose any bid by the ODM leader to back a person from the Rift Valley to run against him.

While he does not seem to mind Mr Odinga backing any other politician, Mr Ruto and his lieutenants have taken a keen interest in the workings of the younger Moi, coupled with intense fear that those in government, including President Kenyatta, may upstage him in favour of the Baringo senator.

“Any attempt to discuss altering the 2022 Jubilee candidate is to step on a live wire. It is like sitting on a transformer,” nominated MP David Sankok said.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei dragged the Uhuru-Raila March 9 handshake into the debate, suggesting it was under threat if Mr Odinga were to continue with plans for 2022.

“We are not happy with his moves within Jubilee, now that he has shown us his secret card that he is willing to push Gideon to run against William Ruto,” Mr Cherargei said.

But in another twist Mvita MP Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir, while insisting that ODM will field a candidate in the 2022 poll, said the party will be reaching out to other politicians, including Gideon Moi, for support.

“We want to assure everyone that we did not go there to undermine anyone. Come 2022, we will all battle it out,” he said on Thursday.

A short video released by the former president’s communications team showed a sharp mzee Moi who, at his age, could relive events easily.

“People have not known what it means by unity,” Mr Moi said. “Unity between you and Uhuru is good for the country.”

Mr Odinga replied: “All of them are looking at 2022. And we didn’t understand. We told them: Let us first bring the country together, and speak with one voice.”

But Tharaka-Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki said that Mr Odinga should stick to working to unite the country in line with the handshake deal.

“He went to see Moi, and instead of talking about how to unite the country, they are talking about 2022.

“We want to tell them: There is no relationship between the handshake and 2022 politics,” Governor Njuki said.

University of Nairobi’s Herman Manyora said the Moi-Raila handshake may herald the end of Mr Ruto’s political career.

“Why do you think Raila went to see Moi? Maybe to irritate Ruto, to smoke him out of his cool, then giving the three big families a chance to throw him under the bus,” Prof Manyora said.

However, he says, if the three families gang up against Ruto, he might emerge, to his advantage, as the “candidate of the weak”.

And speaking in Homa Bay on Saturday, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria said Mr Odinga had instructed MPs allied to his opposition coalition and Jubilee to spearhead reconciliation meetings.

Mr Kuria said: “When I visited Mr Odinga in his office, he told me that the handshake is useless unless we devolve it to Kenyans.”

Mr Kuria, who joined Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga and Rangwe MP Lilian Gogo at Odienya SDA Church in Kochia, Rangwe constituency, said his meeting with Mr Odinga was about reconciliation.

Mr Kuria donated Sh1 million to the church.

Additional reporting by Barack Oduor

Mudavadi says it was okay for Raila to visit Moi 

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Amani National Congress (ANC) party leader Musalia Mudavadi has supported the recent meeting between former president Daniel Moi and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga.

Speaking in Nakuru yesterday, Mr Mudavadi welcomed the visit by Mr Odinga, saying it was a “great show of concern for his political mentor.”

“The former president represents a father figure to almost all of us and the visit by Mr Odinga is very encouraging. It is a show of concern,” said Mr Mudavadi.

He urged people not to read too much politics into the meeting, saying that he would do the same if he had an opportunity.


“I don’t see any problem with anyone going to visit retired President Moi as he has done so much for this country. I think everyone should do the same whenever an opportunity comes,” he added.

At the same time, Mr Mudavadi  said he is ready to engage and work with like-minded leaders.

He expressed his willingness to engage all leaders including Kanu chairman Gideon Moi to support his quest to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2022. Mr Moi is the senator of Baringo County.

“If you want to be a leader in this country, you must be able to engage (others). I have worked with Senator Moi before and I am ready to engage him again when an appropriate time comes,” said Mr Mudavadi.

He also defended the plan to merge his party with Ford-Kenya and dismissed claims that he is forming a Luhya party saying ANC and Ford-Kenya are national parties which will not lock out other communities.

“The consolidation of ANC and Ford-Kenya is on course. We are not intending to lock out other communities since the parties have representation (from) across the country,” said Mr Mudavadi

He further maintained his position that there should be an all-inclusive national dialogue.

He commended church leaders for supporting his call, saying that their voice is a major boost to his vision of peace and justice in the country.

Endless political campaign mode spells doom for development

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The next General Election in Kenya will be on Tuesday, August 9, 2022 — or might I be missing something?

This might be the logic of Kenya’s new constitution, but Donald Trump and his ilk have whipped endless political campaigns into a frenzy.

And Kenyan politicians are joining Trump’s train, making it feel like the 2022 race is next week.

The real – and perhaps only – casualty of Kenya’s new “permanent campaign” mode is President Uhuru Kenyatta who faces the risk of being pushed and shoved down the dark alley of a lame duck presidency at the crack of dawn of his hard-fought second term, and even before he unfurls his legacy – which he must as potentially Kenya’s youngest presidential retiree at 60 in August 2022.

It is now official. Kenya has entered the age of “permanent campaign”, which is blurring the dividing line between the governing time and campaigning time.

Kenyans are now receiving a customised daily Twitter message: “In case you missed it”, from the those jostling to succeed President Kenyatta.

Daily headlines read like the morning of a day on August 2022: “Key players in the race to succeed Kenyatta” (Daily Nation, April 10, 2018).

Then, there are haughty headlines on claims and counter-claims about who is holding secret meetings, betraying or blocking the 2022 presidential bids.

Kenya has barely recovered from perhaps modern history’s most protracted electioneering, the 2017 double election (the General Election of August 8, 2017 and the repeat presidential election on October 26), which lasted for nearly 130 days.

As one of its hidden costs, the uncertainty spawned by the 2017 election exacted a heavy toll on the Kenyan economy, almost reversing the gains made in development since 2013.

At the end of August 2017, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) estimated that Kenyan businesses lost up to Sh700 billion ($7 billion).

In October, a month after the Supreme Court annulled Kenyatta’s victory, the International Monetary Fund cut its forecast on Kenya’s economic growth from 5.8 per cent to five per cent.

Worse news came on November 7. The Kenyan Treasury revealed that losses from the prolonged electioneering period hit Sh130 billion, estimated at one per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.

And the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) reported that it lost about Sh50 billion in revenue collection during this poll crisis, forcing the government to revise its economic growth prospects to 5.1 per cent in 2017.

In the light of this doomsday scenario that the peace deal between President Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga on March 9, 2018 came, blissfully, as an auspicious moment for Kenya’s economy and society to heal from the long-drawn and haemorrhaging electioneering.

Indeed, on the day of the handshake, the shilling appreciated against the dollar, suggesting that the African market is increasingly becoming responsive to the rhetoric and war-mongering by politicians.

Far from ushering a post-bellum moment, the handshake has kicked off a new round of electioneering.

To be sure, “permanent campaign” is one of the newest theories of political science that has steadily come into vogue since the late 1970s.

It is traced to Patrick Caddell who, as a young pollster for US President Jimmy Carter, argued in a 1976 memo titled “Initial Working Paper on Political Strategy” that: “Governing with public approval requires a continuing political campaign.”

The onset of the television and the dawn of the digital age, characterised by the internet and sophisticated information and communication technology, revolutionised the art of political management.

But the impact of this revolution has been dire.


Permanent campaign is all about controlling the daily news cycles.

Rival politicians use data-heavy and media-led campaigns to be on top of the 24-hours news cycle or to shape and control public perceptions of things.

The frenzied, headline-grabbing atmosphere that the Trump-style permanent campaign has fostered has undermined the traditional role of political parties as theatres of political business.

Instead, the use of the media and computer-based modern technology to disseminate research-based heavy data and polling on public interest issues like corruption and cronyism is replacing the old-style patronage and party organisation.

Endless electioneering is not good for development.


As a short-term and unprincipled hue of politics, perpetual campaign is undermining the kind of long-term planning and economic development envisioned by Kenya Vision 2030 and President Kenyatta’s legacy based on the four pillars (manufacturing, affordable housing, food security and universal healthcare).

In Trump’s America, the permanent campaign environment is hurting institutions and people’s faith in democracy.

And in Africa, the model has exposed emerging democracies to unprecedented uncertainties.

It has turned politics more hostile, disregarded long-term agendas and concentrates on winning perception than fundamentally changing the reality.

In Kenya, it is the opposition, not the government, that pioneered the permanent campaign model in the run-up to the December 2007 election.

The entry of the perpetual campaign model is linked to the advent of Dick Morris, a pollster to Bill Clinton, who served as adviser to the Orange Democratic Movement during the 2007 campaign.

Arguably, failure by successive administrations to counter the opposition’s withering permanent campaign strategies resulted in cycles of violence and political instability, which threatened to tear the country apart, especially during the 2007 and 2017 elections.

Mired in an artificial moral divide between “politics” (siasa) as bad and “development” (maendeleo) as good, Kenya’s business-oriented governments have lost the battle of public perception to the opposition.

After the March 4, 2013 defeat, Odinga and the opposition staged a robust permanent campaign that enabled them to win almost all the daily news cycle, control almost all media platforms, and to push the government to the ropes, especially on the issue of corruption.

There are signs that a simmering supremacy battle between Deputy President William Ruto, Odinga and Senator Gideon Moi is pushing “permanent campaign” to a whole new dangerous level.

This is a wake-up call to Kenyatta to take the threat of permanent campaign seriously.

A strong party and a robust campaign based on development may secure his legacy.