President Uhuru Kenyatta admires the WBC superbantam weight belt won by Kenyan boxer Fatuma Zarika at the Jamhuri Day garden party  hosted at State House. PHOTO | PSCUPresident Uhuru Kenyatta admires the WBC superbantam weight belt won by Kenyan boxer Fatuma Zarika at the Jamhuri Day garden party hosted at State House. PHOTO | PSCU
By NJOKI MARIBE

I would like to take this opportunity to join the thousands of Kenyans who are questioning the formula President Uhuru Kenyatta used to determine the calibre of Kenyans to award the Head of State Commendation.

For those who might not know what I am talking about, allow me to explain.

During public holidays or any other time the President finds suitable, some Kenyans are conferred with national honours for their exemplary work, bravery and acts of service and patriotism to the country.

FAKE NEWS

When the list of Kenyans in line for the Head of State Commendation came out on the morning of Jamhuri Day, I thought it was fake news.

I later discovered that I was, in fact, looking at a genuine list. This made me very sad, and then very angry.

That is why I want to take this opportunity to address the President. That list is outrageous. It is unfair, uncalled for and a mockery of our Constitution. It is taking Kenyans for a ride.

The National Honours Act (No. 11 of 2013) could not be clearer. Section four, titled the ‘Persons on whom national honours can be conferred’, outlines the calibre of people to be awarded such honours. The first condition a Kenyan must fulfil is to be “a person who exhibited or exhibits exemplary qualities, actions or achievements of heroism, sacrifice, bravery, patriotism or leadership for the defence, benefit or betterment of the country or a county”.

Now, Mr President, there are people on your list who are clearly underserving of the Head of State Commendation.

BAD EXAMPLE

Mr President, you are setting a bad example by rewarding people based on their political leanings and loyalty.

On your list, there are people whose only qualification is (a) carrying githeri to a voting queue and making news as a result, (b) journalists who covered the President on the campaign trail, (c) people who tweet on behalf of the President, and (d) evangelists who intercede on behalf of the President and Deputy President.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a president rewarding cronies or the people who do everything to make him look good. What is wrong is rewarding them using State awards.

There is nothing wrong with rewarding bloggers who bully and insult whoever does not support the government. What is wrong is to use such a sacrosanct national treasure as the Head of State Commendation to validate the dubious work they do.

MEDIOCRITY

This is not really a debate about which Kenyans deserve the awards versus those who do not. This is a debate about mediocrity and excellence.

Frankly, Mr President, you cannot afford to be on the frontline of awarding mediocrity. You are the palladium of our national values, the number one custodian of the Constitution, the captain of this ship that is Kenya and the leader of the nation.

Kenyans are supposed to look up to a president who appreciates, values and rewards excellence. Respectfully, Mr President, we will not accept anything other than excellence from you.

There are many Kenyans who are far more deserving of the awards than those on the list we saw in the Kenya Gazette.

Kenyans are a resilient, hardworking, selfless people. Many do an honest day’s job, reap where they have sowed, abide by the laws and respect authority. Do not mock their hard work by rewarding people who are everything but diligent.

We live in a land of exemplary doctors, record-breaking athletes, selfless teenagers who died in a fire trying to save others and school principals who literally crossed dangerous waters to take national exams to their students. Are they not deserving of State commendation?

MORE CIRCUMSPECT

I urge you to be more circumspect in the way you select the Kenyans to be honoured for their contribution.

Leadership dictates that you be the President of every Kenyan, including those who do not agree with you. There are people who are making you look bad and making a mockery of your presidency yet you have a legacy to secure. This is not looking good.

However, it is not too late to do the right thing. You can still make every Kenyan proud to wear a national medal. Please do.

Blessed weekend, Your Excellency.