Sakaja degree that never was?

Johnson Sakaja

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja was rightly elated after getting the green light to vie for Nairobi governor following a tussle over suspect qualifications from a dodgy Ugandan degree mill.

However, he is not out of the woods yet. Despite the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) giving Mr Sakaja and a few others free passage on the ridiculous basis that it does not have capacity to validate degrees, his certificate, acquired from the little-known Team University, is still under probe.

The whole saga has left a bad taste in the mouth and reflected badly on the conduct and integrity of all those involved, including Mr Sakaja himself.

I have admired the young man ever since he burst onto the political scene in 2012 as chairman of future president Uhuru Kenyatta’s political vehicle of the time, The National Alliance (TNA). He was barely out of diapers but impressed with his maturity and intelligence.

On my list of promising young Kenyan leaders I would entrust with taking this county to the next level, Mr Sakaja always ranked at the top. He no longer does. I was aghast to learn only recently that the stellar degree he always claimed to have earned at the University of Nairobi never existed.

Found it legit

Politics is, indeed, time consuming and might have forced him to drop out of university, but somehow he ended up being given a degree certificate by the aforementioned Ugandan institution.

The Commission for University Education (CUE) here in Kenya scrutinised the degree and found it legit after cross-checking with both the issuing school and the National Council for Higher Education, in Uganda.

Then the drama started, when some voters challenged his nomination, arguing that his degree was fake.

Even before matter could be heard, the CUE chairman, Prof Chacha Nyaigotti-Chacha, reversed a decision pronounced by the CEO, Prof Mwenda Ntarangwi.

The chairman pocking his nose into the business of the management only lent credence to claims that Prof Chacha was serving another agenda.

Most curious was withdrawing recognition of Mr Sakaja’s degree before investigations had established anything untoward. The CUE chair was finding Mr Sakaja guilty before being proven innocent and providing ammunition for those who claimed it was all a political witch-hunt.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) did not acquit itself any more honourably. With typical bombast, director George Kinoti waded into the fray, suggesting the imminent arrest of Mr Sakaja for forgery, uttering a false document and involvement in an international criminal ring.

It is typical of Mr Kinoti to jump into cases, declaring guilt even before any adverse findings. The trouble is that, all too often, the ironclad evidence he boasts to have turns out be nothing but hot air.

He is adept at providing fodder for those forever looking for excuses to claim political persecution.

Then there was the Sakaja that came out of the drama. This was not the cool, calm and collected politician who has never been the rabid attack dog. When growing up under the wings of President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, he did not waste his breath trying to score points by incessantly hurling vile insults at opposition chief Raila Odinga.

When Jubilee Party split and he marked time in the wing loyal to President Kenyatta and his new dalliance with Mr Odinga, the senator did not make Dr Ruto a target of crude barbs. And when he finally crossed over to the Ruto stable, it was not for him to direct violent insults at President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.

He remained above such petty and crude shows—until last week, when he started spewing vitriol on his former patron.

Platform theatrics

The fellow, who always carried himself with respect, reduced himself to the standard felon who always seeks shelter behind Dr Ruto when caught on the wrong side of the law. That he was more intent on platform theatrics made me suspect that there was something to the investigations, after all.

Meanwhile, the CUE, pretending to probe the matter further, asked Mr Sakaja to present himself before them armed with photographs taken at his graduation, school fees receipts and evidence of examination payments and anything else that can prove he actually attended university and graduated.

Yes, proof that Mr Sakaja actually did earn his degree is necessary, but some of those demands indicate idiocy of the highest order. A photo in a graduation gown, surely, cannot be evidence of a degree!

In any case, this can no longer be about raising the burden of proof on one individual but a bigger inquiry into the whole industry of degree procurement.

[email protected] @MachariaGaitho


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