Dear Your Excellency: Greetings from Kenya and hope all is well on your current trip to Nigeria. As you may already have been briefed by your security chiefs, Kenyans are increasingly uncertain of their security and call for your urgent intervention. Like most of your colleagues who cut short foreign travels to get home to address such emergencies, we would be delighted if you would come back home soonest. In the meantime, we share with you our first open letter and do hope to receive your urgent and favourable response.
- Talk less, act more strategically on security:
You need more structured and technical security advisers, reforms and processes behind the scenes. You need to be carefully appraised on major pronouncements you make on security: Two examples will suffice.
On August 9, 2013 you said of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) fire thus “All security agencies serving within the airport will also come under the command of a single senior officer with immediate effect”. That was a major reactionary decision and again, poorly timed. Putting various agencies under one command, with its’ attendant benefits, is still not feasible considering different training backgrounds and especially mistrust which would curtail intelligence sharing.
On September 21, 2013 you said thus of the Nairobi Westgate terror attack: “I have directed security agencies to be decisive in their response to this or any other threat. They must and will do this to demonstrate our constitution’s categorical guarantee of Kenyans’ indefeasible rights to life and property”. The question Kenyans may want to ask is whether that directive was necessary and what has become of it? The fact that no credible investigations and commission of inquiry has been undertaken to inform diagnosis, management and prescriptions on responding to similar terrorists attack would reduce chances of neutralizing such threats as witnessed currently.
2. Depoliticize and De-ethnicize Security Agencies
It might be easy to deny but the fact is and remains: Kenya’s security agencies are covertly politicized and as a result overtly ethnicized. This can be proven on the basis of skewed high echelons of security agencies on regional representation marked by imbalances. This is particularly seen on opportunities for top appointments, promotion and training of security officers at all agencies. As such most middle and junior level are largely a disenfranchised lot. Clearly, all security agencies do not pass the minimum test of Article 232 of the Constitution on Values and Principles of Public Service.
3. Do not sign the National Police Service (Amendment) Act, 2014
Part of the politicization of the security agencies, and especially the National Police Service, was seen on what played out in the National Assembly on April 24, 2014 when Section 13 and other constitutional violations were retained within the controversial Bill. The net effect of most of the amendments was not aimed at securing national interest but that of partisan, narrow and short-term interests.
The inter-play between Article 245 and 246 of the Constitution was badly distorted. It amounted to amending the Constitution and limiting the independence envisaged under Chapter 15 National Police Service Commission without the popular will of Kenyans. If you are genuinely against terrorism, as we believe you do, then you must of essence return the National Police Service (Amendment) Bill, 2014 to the National Assembly for further re-alignment in line with Article 2(1)(3) of the Constitution.
Any action on the contrary will defeat the welcome provisions of Article 244 which call for a professional, corruption-free, human rights-respecting, competence, integrity and embracing of community policing.
4. Avoid PR on Security Matters
Late October last year, your Interior Secretary Mr Joseph ole Lenku was quoted by sections of the media as saying that the government was keen to make the “Nyumba Kumi”concept a key pillar of the policing strategy as directed by yourself. Then, it was mentioned, a new legal framework had been established through the National Security Council (NSC) Regulations to allow for County security committees. That six months after the establishing the “Nyumba Kumi” concept the project has no funding, is a counterproductive public relations exercise.
Again, your office and senior officers must avoid pedestrian talk on sensitive security matters on Twitter. It is indeed laughable that one of your officers (clearly ill-informed of security and provisions of Chapter 14 of the Constitution on national security) took to Twitter to say thus: “…Pass new laws to empower NIS (National Intelligence Service) to neutralize threats” If such advice is what you rely on or you are perceived to rely on, then there is a legitimate cause for public concern on their own security.
We must fix the “Usalama Watch” or any security initiative by any name as long as that is what it will take to secure our country. It is time to live to your tagline “Kusema na kutenda” (Walk your talk).
5. Conduct credible vetting for all security officers
The much-discredited National Police Service senior officers vetting which led to a pullout by the “Nyumba Kumi” Committee members from the National Police Service Commission (NSPC) vetting panel call for an urgent review and assessment of gains made, if any, out of the exercise that has little to show against the public expenditures and expectations. It is necessary to craft a law which will require a fresh and credible vetting of all officers from all security agencies. On this, the leadership of the National Security Council is needed.
6. Dissolve NSAC and focus on NSC
It is high time the non-statutory National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC) is immediately disbanded and focus more on the National Security Council (NSC) as established under Article 240 of the Constitution. You must use your privileged position as the Chairperson of NSC to create conducive and cost-effective means and ways in which the different security agencies can avoid the silo mentality on security management.
Specifically, you need to get the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and the Director of Criminal Intelligence (under the National Police Service) communicating better on dealing decisively with crime. The NSC annual report to Parliament on the state of national security need to be put under better public scrutiny especially as relates to the public securing value for their money.
7. Act decisively on corruption in your office, security procurements
There are certain senior individuals in your office, whom you never mention by name, and whom you have accused of perpetuating corruption. Needless to mention, that corruption relates and includes some remote control of all heads of security agencies as would relate to wastage, procurements, appointments and promotions among others.
On November 7, 2013, you told corrupt senior officers in your office to either resign or be sacked. You went ahead to say that having worked with Office of the President officials during your time at the Treasury you were aware of self-created bureaucracy with the intention of advancing corruption. That no senior officer has resigned or been sacked from your office, 5 months down the line, speaks volumes on whether you meant what you said even as you were visibly convincing as you uttered those golden words in the minds of Kenyans tired of high level corruption.
8. Operationalize Police Surveillance Communication, Command and Control system
When your predecessor, H.E Mwai Kibaki visited China in May 2010, talk of police communications project with the Chinese Government, which was offer a concessional loan facility of about US$100 million, to finance the project. Before that could happen the process of upgrading the Police Surveillance Communication Command and Control system ran into the procurement headwinds with two Chinese companies ending up in Court over the lucrative multi-billion project. With the Chinese Premier expected in the country, this Friday, it might be useful to discuss this project if it is not on the cards yet.
Related to this, it may be useful for Kenyans to access individual online records of police officers by checking against their names and numbers. An online reporting system using the name and or number of an officer need to be activated.
9. Reduce the Number of Police Officers Attached to VIPs
Since the country cannot afford to employ enough police officers, prudent use of the available police officers is crucial. You must make a radical decision. VIP’s must not use police officers as drivers, cleaners, messengers or clerks. Most of them sit idle, drawing allowances, in their offices as bodyguards. Senior police officers should not fill their headquarters parking with idle vehicles while those in the field have none. Police must now use pool vehicles. Vigilance House must reduce the numbers of officers in offices and deploy them to the field. Kenya Police Reserve (KPR) must be activated and structured and closely monitored.
10. Modernize National Police Service and address their welfare
There is need to reduce the heightened fear of crime and have police become increasingly effective in reassuring Kenyans of their safety especially at local level. Focus must now turn onto overall police productivity in terms of crime detection, response and management. There is need for urgent changes to police workforce policies and practices to assist police officers to respond more effectively to the challenges the institution faces today. You need to put in place a high level team to craft a vision and stepping stones towards a much transformed and modernized police workforce. You must attain a police service that embraces successful initiatives and addresses gaps in the modernization agenda to be developed.
Finally, Mr President your legacy won’t be about anything else prior to fixing Kenya’s security. From the trans-boundary acts of terrorism to petty crimes, Kenyans must have their country back from the current siege of criminals. There should be no excuses. Spend whatever it takes, hire and fire high level security leaders without favour or fear as long as this will guarantee Kenya’s security. Our prayers and best wishes as we continue to entrust the security of all Kenyans in your hands. Good luck!
Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek), May 5, 2014