Pauline Njoroge, the Twitter tigress who shot her own foot

Photo credit: J Nyagah | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Pauline saw that side of Facebook last week when her appointment to the Tourism Regulatory Authority board was reversed due to a post raising doubts about the viability of Nairobi National Park.
  • Her posts seem to reflect the ideology of always taking sides, the Nairobi National Park one being a prime example.

Most people say they heard of Facebook before they signed up on the social media network. Pauline Njoroge says she “discovered” it in 2008 at a trying period in her life when she was unable to get fees for university education; when, as an alternative, she had become a regular visitor to the American Reference Center Library, a facility run by the US embassy in Nairobi.

She states on her website: “I picked and read almost every book I could find on politics and discovered Facebook as a tool I could use to address issues pertaining to politics and government that I was so passionate about.”

But that very tool, in which she has an impressive 139,000 followers and a verification badge to boot, is the proverbial rope that, if given enough of, one hangs himself or herself with. This is a platform where a post can come back to haunt you long after you thought the dust had settled. It has seen people denied visas, lose jobs or fail to get them altogether, get divorced, and more.

Pauline saw that side of Facebook last week when her appointment to the Tourism Regulatory Authority board was reversed due to a post raising doubts about the viability of Nairobi National Park, where she said the “economically redundant” feature added little value to the capital.

Gazette notice

Mr Najib Balala, the Cabinet Secretary who appointed her through a gazette notice, announced revocation of the appointment a day later as Pauline’s past post circulated online, saying the ministry would not want to be “associated with such people and such thinking”. He replaced her with Najma Ismail.

Besides Pauline, Balala’s appointments to the board are drawing controversy after the Law Society of Kenya filed a case challenging the suitability of the appointees and the procedure used to select them. Following the filing of the case, the appointments were suspended by the Labour court on Thursday.

Pauline has been active all week on her Facebook and Twitter accounts, though she has kept off the board appointment issue. There is a feeling this is not the last time she will be reminded of something she posted in the past.

Having gained prominence during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s election campaigns of 2013 and 2017, she appears to have assimilated a common maxim in the political books she read: “In politics, the middle way is none at all.” That observation was made by John Adams, the second president of the US.

Fake story

Her posts seem to reflect the ideology of always taking sides, the Nairobi National Park one being a prime example. Another instance is a tweet she fired in June 2017 when Sunday Nation journalist Walter Menya was framed, arrested and released without being charged. She was the first person to post about the arrest, terming Menya’s journalism of the day “a big, fake story”.

On October 8, 2017 she threw jibes at ODM leader Raila Odinga ahead of the repeat presidential election just days away: “Raila knows this time round he will lose even more. It’s 18 days to the elections and campaigns are supposed to be in top gear. But Raila has chosen to travel to the UK to meet with mzungus instead of seeking votes.”

Her conduct ahead of the 2017 General Election and the repeat presidential poll seemed to get the thumbs-up from State House when, in the 2017 Jamhuri Day celebrations, she received a Head of State Commendation.

Today she is a communication officer with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) secretariat, an agency allied to the African Union under the Treasury ministry.

“When I look back, I realise that the knowledge I have on many issues, especially on the international front, has not been gained in class. It was self-taught,” she writes on her website.

Her recent social media posts are in favour of government policy, and on a couple of occasions she has thrown jibes at the Tangatanga side allied to Deputy President William Ruto. As the 2022 election year draws near, more is sure to come from Pauline Njoroge, HSC.

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