By Winnie Kabintie
The recipients conferred with the National Honour by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Jamhuri day was a bad joke to say the least.
A “national honour” as defined by The National Honours Act, 2013 means an official recognition, decoration, status or award conferred by the President in line with Article 132(4) (c) of the Constitution.
According to the National Honours Act, 2013 which sets out the procedures and mechanisms for conferring of national honours, a person(s) shall merit the conferment of a national honour if the person is—
(a) a person who exhibited or exhibits exemplary qualities, actions or achievements of heroism, sacrifice, bravery, patriotism or leadership for the defence, benefit or betterment of the country or a county;
(b) a person who has made an exemplary contribution to the country or a county in the economic, social, scientific, academic, public administration, governance, sports, journalism, business, security or other fields;
(c) a State officer or public officer who has made an exemplary contribution to the betterment of the national or county governments, the executive, the judiciary, the legislature, an independent commission or an independent office;
(d) a person who has otherwise brought honour, glory or pride to the Republic.
It was therefore mediocre and sadly laughable to see the 2017 list of recipients of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s commendation, a majority of whom DO NOT fit the bill based on the above-stipulated criteria.
The 2017 list of HEAD OF STATE COMMENDATION nominees included controversial bloggers, journalists and a musician whose “exemplary contribution” has not been to the Good of the Country or a County but by all means to the good of the JUBILEE GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION and it, therefore, wasn’t surprising to see the fury of Kenyans who took to social media to display their contempt on the recipients conferred with the State honour.
Bloggers Pauline Njoroge , Robert Alai and Dennis Itumbi who is also the director digital and diaspora communication at State House, are among the controversial people awarded.
Others include, Citizen reporter Jackie Maribe, radio presenter Njogu Njoroge and Martin Kamotho alias Githeriman – who came into limelight during the August 8 poll just because he was caught on camera on a voting queue eating githeri (a popular delicacy made of maize and beans) from a polythene bag.
What is even more tragic is that there is actually an advisory committee, which is tasked with recommending possible nominees to the president. The committee’s role in this particular function was either insignificant or misguided probably out of ignorance or sheer impunity.
Act Of Parliament Introduced Changes In Selection Of Recipients For State Honours
In the past, before parliament enacted the National Honours Act, 2013, the selection of recipients of national honours and the criteria used to identify them was unclear and as such beneficiaries would be awarded in an arbitrary manner mostly guided by political considerations, family connections other than merit.
In a country where jobs, tenders and even admission in government schools is awarded based on who you know and who, whom you know, knows (SIC) the last thing we expected to see is the government disregarding law just to pay homage to political cronies because this takes away the very sanctity of the very spirit of National Honours and belittles its value.