Raymond Omollo

Interior PS Raymond Omollo addressing at a past function in Nairobi.

| Bonface Bogita | Nation Media Group

The nation must not be hostage to paranoia of those in power

For a person holding such a powerful and influential position, the Principal Secretary for Internal Security and National Administration Raymond Omollo often comes as one of the quieter, more restrained, thoughtful and sober voices in President William Ruto’s government.

But even he will occasionally come up with the kind of declarations and directives that expose the dictatorial traits in the Kenya Kwanza administration. A clear example was in the misplaced and totally unacceptable statement issued at the end of last week demanding that Non-Governmental Organisations and Public Benefit Organisations, or what we might loosely term the Civil Society Sector, align their programmes and activities to the Bottom-Up economic agenda.

That might at first glance seem a reasonable proposition in the interest of a coordinated approach to development. A closer look reveals a dangerous and sinister scheme to contain, control or shut down all voices that do not parrot the ruling party line. Dr Omollo’s statement should not actually come as a surprise. It should serve as a clear reminder, and warning, that this government is populated by dictatorial types who are reflexively hostile to independent voices and thoughts.

Kenya Kwanza activists and strategists – going back to their roots in the Mama na Baba party, the now largely deceased Kanu, and its Jubilee Party offspring – are conditioned to be deeply hostile to civil society, media and every other institution that operates independent of the mind-control instincts of the regime.

In their own insecurities, regime mouthpieces regard independent thinkers and voices as threats that must be made to toe the single-party line, failing which they will be silenced or eliminated. Such a regime will obviously be dominated by characters who think that the best way to get ahead is by attracting attention of the president with the shrillest, loudest and most outrageous prescriptions to contain dissenting or non-conformist voices. They will dream up phantom enemies and come up with the most radical ways to contain them.


Kariuki Chotara, Wilson Leitich, James Njiru, Shariff Nassir and other Nyayo-meters of Kanu’s one-party regime may have been crude and unschooled, but they have their successors in the much more polished and educated defenders of the Ruto administration competing to get noticed. What Omollo’s statement conveniently forgets is that Kenya has a constitution that accords every individual or organisation a large array of freedoms. Omollo seems unaware that the Bottom-Up is a Kenya Kwanza slogan, or policy if you will, that cannot be forced down the throat of everybody else. Ruto won the 2022 election and formed the government, and therefore has every right to push the promises on which he was elected.

However, nowhere is it a requirement that every institution also be forced to parrot or push the Kenya Kwanza agenda. NGOs, development agencies, community organisations, welfare associations, religious groupings, lobby groups and all other such institutions are formed to pursue their own desired visions and objectives, and must never be forced to conform to the agenda of a political outfit that temporarily happens to be the governing party. Before Kenya Kwanza there was Jubilee. And before that Party of National Unity, National Alliance Rainbow and Kanu. All had their own programmes and policies, but all came and went.

Kenya Kwanza too will not be eternal. It is in charge today, but there is no telling if in four years’ time, the Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition, Sisi kwa Sisi, the Communist Party of Kenya, Party of Independent Candidates of Kenya or any other outfit will be the one elected to run the show. Will independent organisations then be required to align their programmes to dictates of the next temporary occupant of State House? The directive is more than petty or mischievous. It is outright dangerous insofar as it exposes dictatorial tendencies of the Kenya Kwanza regime.

It also shows inability to make the distinction between the nation and a political party. Put simply, Kenya Kwanza is not Kenya, and its agenda cannot be the agenda of every other organisation. In any case, there are many priorities that are not covered under the government’s narrow Bottom-Up sloganeering. We have a whole array of issues way beyond just economic policies that must still continue to be driven by civil society and other organisations, many of which predate Kenya Kwanza and will outlive it.

Civil society

While Dr Omollo does not explicitly state so, it is obvious that his statement is motivated by the fear and loathing this government holds for civil society and other independent institutions that have for a long time held those in power to account. Civil society has since the multi-party campaign beginning in 1990 taken the frontline in the push for democracy, human rights, good governance, constitutionalism, rule of law, transparency, accountability and a just and equitable social-economic order.

None of these cardinal issues are priorities in the Bottom-Up policies. One can see the immediate dangers if the government has its ways and manages to restrict operations of institutions that have much wider vision than simple bread-and-butter issues. The government’s dictatorial edict is obviously targeted at chocking funding for organisations dedicated to keeping it in check. It must be not only ignored and resisted, but also challenged in court. It is illegal and unconstitutional.

If I have an NGO dedicated to the preservation of the singing frog, no one in government should decide that my campaign falls outside Booty-Up priorities. All must also be aware that if this diktat is allowed to stand, it will not be long before some idle bureaucrat declares that churches must preach Bottom-Up, or that private business must align investment strategies to the mantra. Kenya must not be hostage to the paranoia of those in power.