In the wake of Al-Shabaab’s latest terror attack on Kenyan soil, President Uhuru Kenyatta came out and requested that ordinary Kenyan citizens begin taking the lead on the issue of their security.
Given the spike in high profile security failures, some terrorism related and others not and the way Kenya’s Police and military have dealt with them, most of the country seemed to interpret his word to be an admission that, you are on your own as far as personal security is concerned.
The most dramatic expression of this was trade unions calling on the government calling on their members in the public service to flee from the affected counties as the government could not guarantee their lives.
Reforming Kenya’s police service has been identified as a key to many of the challenges facing Kenya, even before the threat of terrorists became the driving force. Though the Kenyatta government has launched a number of positive moves, especially on the welfare of the officers on the ground, the high profile failures, and some of the logic behind their responses to crime leave a lot to be desired.
Firstly, it does not look like the Kenya police are going to relinquish the title of most corrupt institution in East Africa any time soon. It’s most recent attempts at increasing its numbers (through a colonial relic of a procedure) is languishing in court due to massive (you guessed it ) bribery and corruption.
Secondly, the Kenya Police Service officers continue to get mixed up in extortion of motorists, small scale vendors, conducting poor investigations with the cherry on the cake being judicial executions. In short they are not exactly the easiest bunch to ‘co-operate with.’
On the other hand the Kenyatta government’s deployment of military personnel has also had its own negative implications, what with their operations constantly dogged with accusations of looting and pillaging of innocent bystanders.
It is no surprise to observers that the most popularly unpopular figures in Kenya right now are the Inspector General of Police, David Kimaiyo, and Internal Security Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku. Their resignation, and sacking showing just how untenable their situations were
These things aside, how is a nation supposed to remain secure from external threats if the people and security agencies do not work together for each others good? In spite of the reality on the ground, the president’s call for co-operation between security services and the people is likely the most sensible approach I’ve heard for a while.
If the police, the intelligence services, and the military and all the stakeholders are to stand a chance to overcome their own, and Kenya’s security problems, a little less cynicism would be a big help.
As the heat rages on from president trying to say one thing, and Kenya hearing another, Kenyans will continue to have to find a way to muddle through a myriad of security challenges, of which many of which are self inflicted t. Without a sense of co-operation and mutual responsibility (from all quarters, and not just the people in office) I cannot see how we can succeed.