By Billow Kerrow
There is little doubt that the Jubilee government has failed in the war against terror, and on security generally. There is no need to sugar-coat the dismal performance of the Uhuru regime in safeguarding Kenyans’ lives.
In just under a year, over 400 people have been butchered by Al Shabaab terrorists in circumstances that exposed the appalling security command structure and lack of leadership. To add salt to injury, the President often reiterates his confidence in his officers under whose watch Kenyans were slaughtered. To date, no officer has been charged for functional negligence or dereliction of duty that led to these atrocities.
There is official lethargy among the ranks, and a shocking evidence of systemic dysfunctional structure that lacks responsiveness. For instance, a specific Garissa attack intelligence, providing time and place of the attack, was reportedly provided in writing to the country’s security team but ignored.
The President has not acted on any of them. Neither has he acted on those officials culpable for Mandera quarry and bus attacks, and Mpeketoni. In fact, they were retained in their positions, itself an expression of confidence. Sloppiness and inefficient, ineffective performance is apparently rewarded, and officers often get away with a slap on the wrist at most.
But even more disappointing is the cavalier attitude of the MPs who trivialize terrorism by blaming it on the political leaders. No amount of coercion, sideshows and threats by MPs will derail our efforts to combat terrorists. We hold no brief for anyone and have no obligation to satisfy any party on our efforts.
Our region has been hit severely by the attacks and has literary grounded to a halt in every sphere. Yet, none of them has found it fit to offer appropriate interventions to help the region. Indeed, most Kenyans they represent insist public servants should quit the area, and leave the residents to decide their fate.
Neither Majority Leader Aden Duale nor any other leader in NEP will bear the blame for the massacres, any more than other MPs will. Three of the four terrorists in the university attack were from Western Kenya and Mombasa.
Two of the Mandera quarry attacks masterminds were from upcountry too. Are leaders from any of these counties from which these criminals hail culpable for the crime? And perhaps leaders from every county should compile a list of youths from their communities who have joined Al Shabaab.
Why not? Al Shabaab reportedly has membership from most communities in the country, according to police. I am not obliged to furnish the police with a purported list of terrorists, any more than a Sakaja or a Kabando has to.
At the height of the Mungiki crisis, an MP from Central Kenya stated in Parliament that all of them took an oath administered by the dreaded sect. No political leader from the area was held politically culpable for Mungiki. In 2007, more than a thousand Kenyans were killed in the post-election violence; was any leader held culpable in this country? We are not terrorists or their sympathisers.
We won’t accept the tag either simply because our counties have become the playground for these terrorists, courtesy of a dysfunctional security system. In every town in the region, the public cry is the same – we have a rotten, corrupt system that has nearly abdicated its mandate to offer security to residents.
Militarising the Internal Security leadership will not solve the situation for as long as we continue to reward failure and pursue collective guilt of a community that has borne the brunt of the war since our misadventure in Somalia began.
Hon. Kerrow is the Senator, Mandera County.