Degree requirement when running for office should be abolished
By Albert Amenya
Last week while on a trip to Kisii, I shared seats with a Nigerian professor named Ahmed Amidu. Prof Amidu was on a Kenyan tour of Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa and Kisii. He works for one of the leading British IT firms as a researcher and was on a feasibility study tour across the cities in Kenya.
No sooner had we introduced ourselves than he asked me a pesky question that rattled my conscience: “My brother, all this stuff I hear and read about Kenyan politicians buying fake degrees, is it really true that most Kenyans have fake degrees?” I looked lost and confused and anyone could tell from my countenance, even though I was bankrupt of words. My expression gave me away as answering in the affirmative. “Is your system of education so corrupt and rotten as to permit such academic sleaze?” He added.
When I felt the discussion getting more embarrassing, I interrupted him and quickly asked if it was his first visit to our country. By so doing, I successfully changed the topic. Although I gained some momentary reprieve, I did not stop chewing over his embarrassing questions all through the trip.
The situation I faced in that bus is one which many Kenyans face on daily basis across the globe so much that even poor countries than us are freely throwing jabs at us over our abhorrent pathetic state and level of corruption.
Sometimes back, this country had the highest number of thugs per square kilometre but not anymore. Nowadays politicians have replaced thugs. In this country, any thug with money can become a politician even if they don’t have the education. What matters is the weight of your pocket.
In Kenya today, uneducated politicians are oppressing and misusing the educated. In my field Last year, a friend of mine professor Herman Manyora sent me a text reminding me of the thankless job we columnists do. After reading one of my pieces entitled “How to create 1.5 million jobs in 10 months”, Professor told me I was giving away expensive consultancy prospects in a newspaper column.
I agree with Manyora that Kenyan writers are used and dumped by uneducated smart alecks and nitwits. These crooks leaf through newspaper columns and source proposals which they use to corner incredible millions of shillings with the help of their godfathers. After getting money, these plagiarists buy fake degrees from universities outside the country and vie for Senatorial, gubernatorial, parliamentary and even Presidential offices while the original owners of the ideas that made them wealthy are ignored.
When these politicians get to power, they employ their cronies and thugs to implement committees. Journalists and writers are only invited as press secretaries but are not involved in decision-making tables. All through, they are subjected to praising and glorifying the less intelligent humans in power. It is little wonder that otherwise brilliant policies and programs of government collapse or end in failure.
In Kenya today, those with genuine degrees are the poor struggling in the ghetto but their degrees are not helping them. When the poor genuine graduates are struggling to find jobs with their degrees without success, the corrupt rich politicians without valid degrees are struggling to validate their fraudulently earned degrees before IEBC.
In Kenya, it is during elections when the rich also cry.
Maybe the drafters of the 2010 constitution shouldn’t have included the degree requirement for the position of President and governor. As witnessed, every illiterate rich and corrupt crook is faking degrees so that he can become governor or President because those who have genuine degrees are poor people who have no money to bribe voters. As well, I agree with celebrity musician Wahu Kagwi who explains that degrees should not be a requirement in leadership. The beautiful Wahu explains how some of the great leaders and business moguls made it in life without university degrees.
Because of the requirement of a university degree is a primary requirement for one to vie for the positions of President and governor, people in this country are obsessed with degrees. The top rate at which politicians are faking degrees is alarming. If you audit all degrees possessed by the political elites, very few will pass the credibility test. For the sake of sanity, maybe it is about time we abolished education qualifications for the sake of sanity so that next time a stranger like professor Amidu will not embarrass me with such questions.
(The writer sells bananas in the streets of Kisii town)