January 20th 2018

Top Stories / National

Nairobi governor race hots up with degrees of four aspirants questioned

Among the criteria for validity of the degrees is whether the degree holders met the minimum qualifications for enrolling in the programmes. “We have many people, including political leaders, who know very well they were not qualified to be in university in the first place,” said Matiangi.

By Reuben Gitahigitahireuben@gmail.comMonday, 16 Jan 2017 09:52 EAT

Peter Kenneth, Mike Sonko, Johnson Sakaja and Margaret Wanjiru. (Graphic: Edward Musungu/Kenya Free Press).

The impending audit of university degrees being held by politicians across the country has put Nairobi County politics on a spin, with four Jubilee aspirants for the governor's position unsure whether their degrees will pass the test. Any politician whose degree is revoked by the universities that awarded them would be ineligible to run for the governor’s position.

On the orders of Education cabinet secretary Fred Matiangi, the Commission for University Education will next Monday start an audit of degrees held by politicians. The audit will run from January 23 to February 3, and through a newspaper advertisement the Commission has asked members of the public with any information about institutions of higher learning "breaching the set Universities Regulations 2014 and the Universities Standards & Guidelines 2014 in line with the Universities Act No 42 of 2012."

Among the criteria for considering the validity of the degrees is whether the degree holders met the minimum qualifications for enrolling in the degree programmes, according to Dr Matiangi. “We have many people, including political leaders, who know very well that they were not qualified to be in university in the first place,” the cabinet secretary said.

Four leading aspirants for the seat could face investigation under the audit. According to a Nairobi political activist who plans to lodge complaints with the Commission, Senator Mike Mbuvi Sonko, Bishop Margret Wanjiru and Peter Kenneth did not meet the requirements for the degree programmes when they sat the examinations. In Bishop Wanjiru's case, the allegation is that she didn't even finish secondary education. In Mr Johnson Sakaja’s case, the activist plans to revive questions about the authenticity of his degree that was first reported by the Star last year.

The activist alleges that some of the leaders did not attend classes as required and had other individuals undertake the studies on their behalf. Mr Kenneth obtained a law degree from the University of Nairobi, while Mr Sonko's is in business administration from Kenya Methodist University, Ms Wanjiru's is in leadership from St Paul's University and Mr Sakaja actuarial science from Universityt of Nairobi.

In accordance with the law, the Commission of University Education chief executive David some has said that the nullification of the degrees cannot be undertaken by the commission but each universities senate. However, the Commission for University Education is already rolling out audit the quality of education in all Kenyan universities.

This legal requirement was held in the 2013-14 High Court case against Mombasa governor Hassan Joho, whose degree from Kampala University was questioned by Mombasa-based activists. With limited evidence that the governor had indeed attended the university for the Bachelors of Business Administration degree, in which he got a Second Class, Upper Division, the High Court ruled that only Kampala University could recall the degree, but its Vice Chancellor Badru Kateregga defended their award.

The Commission has warned that those who are caught with fake academic certificates will face the law. “We authenticate certificates both from local and international universities. This is a warning to both leaders and individuals who will be found possessing fake academic papers that they will be nullified," CUE chief executive David Some.

In a related development, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission chief executive Officer Halakhe Waqo also told MPs last year that investigations are ongoing to establish the validity of the academic papers of various public servants, including legislators, senior and junior government officers. “The Ethics and Integrity department is conducting investigations into fake certificates for public servants,” he said.

With the chill Dr Matiangi has sent down the spines of politicians, his crackdown on the rot in the primary and secondary school examinations is already being seen as a birthday party given the resistance he will face at higher levels. His onslaught on the university targets some people who already hold powerful positions in the government.

The writer is an experienced journalist, lecturer and researcher based in Nairobi

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