WRITTEN BY EUGYNE OCHIENG AND MICHAEL AREGA
IEBC reiteration that come 2022, a degree is a must for the six elective and nominated positions, has sent shock waves across the political spectrum.
Currently, 41 Members of the National Assembly falls short of this qualification including vocal Suna East MP Junet Mohammed, Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi Nakuru South MP Kimani Ngunjiri, Makadara MP John Aladwa, among many others.
And that is why this debate has not taken Uhuru/Raila vs Ruto approach, as things goes nowadays, each issue politicised.
On one side, including Garissa MP Eden Duale, the feeling is that IEBC rightly pointed out a legally sound and logically correct decree that should even have been in place immediately the new constitution kicked in.
However, a handful other politicians including the Deputy President William Ruto maintains that it is a discriminative piece of legislation that aims to lock out a majority of Kenyans from leadership, making it a preserve for a narrow elitist class. Academic qualifications, goes the argument, is not a yardstick for leadership skills because service is a calling from God and not passing of exams.
Whats the position of the Constitution?
Lawyers fancy this "the law is clear" mantra - so, how clear is it this time?
Well, Article 99(1) provides that a person shall be eligible for election if the person sastifies education requirements prescribed by an Act of Parliament.
Section 22(2A) of Election Acts, 2011, followed on this when it stipulated that "all persons seeking elective positions including MPs and MCAs to have a minimum of a degree from a recognised University."
Put another way, so far as the constitution is concerned and backed by an act of parliament, we will actually be following the law, unless amended, if this act takes effect in 2022.
Proponents of making a degree an irreducible minimum, and have okayed this move, feels that the opportunity to serve the people in various legislative houses present challenges that requires a knowledge of the law, ability to communicate, the knack to interrogate economic, social and political issues - capabilities that demands a solid educational background thus a degree is unavoidable.
Ideally, a school drop out is not in the best position to vet state officers, examine and scrutinize public accounts, debate modestly or articulate his/her peoples' grievances into sound bills.
Therefore, it's only a banana Republic that would rely on its least educated or illiterate people to serve them in critical positions especially in guiding policies with far-reaching consequences on their lives and making the laws that govern the land.
But Ruto and few acolytes are not buying it.
Leadership is a gift from God, so they say, and academic qualifications does not automatically translate to development.
In fact, Kapseret legislator feels he has a better development track record than most of doctorate degree holders adored and respected for their fluency and prestigious academic papers yet offers little practical progress to their electorates. That, service to the people should not be viewed through the lenses of speaking "big English" on the floor of the house but deliver to the electorates.
The Deputy President is pointing at the figures to make his case. If just around 2 million Kenyans are degree holders, are you locking out more than 80% of the hoi polloi from holding elective posts? For him, and conveniently as an advancement of his hustler nation political narrative, it prevents bringing mama mboga, wheelbarrow mango seller and cobblers to the decision making table. If effected, a narrow elite will hold hostage the people of Kenya, even at the lowest leadership cadre such as members of county assembly.
In any case, there is no data that has drawn a comparison between squandering and plunder of public resources and the level of education of state officers. If anything, ideally a brighter thief can still more but not get caught, and the vice versa could be true.
Over to you. Be the judge which argument best fit because by the end of the day, you are "The People."