Why I refused to attend UHURU’s event! It was full of career criminals & political lowlifesEditor's Choice, Forum and discussion 13:39
My good friend John Githongo called me last Wednesday to alert me to expect a call from a civil society leader regarding an invitation to an event at State House. The call came almost immediately. I sought to know the background, objectives, why I was being invited, what I was expected to do but the gentleman did not seem to have the details either, so we left it at that.
The next information I got was from social media, referring to reports in the digital gutter press announcing that the President had invited his critics to an anti-corruption summit in State House. That was on Thursday.
On Friday, Githongo told one of the dailies that he had not received an invitation and they promptly emailed him an invitation letter.
Late Friday afternoon, I got an SMS from someone asking where my letter could be delivered, and I advised them to email it. It did not arrive that day.
Next came a news item over the weekend reporting a press briefing by State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu, in which he specifically mentioned Githongo and I. We are the only individuals he mentioned by name. Still no letter. The letter appeared in my mailbox on Monday late morning. It was dated Wednesday 12th.
I have in my time been involved in many high-level policy meetings, both local and international, as a speaker as well as an organiser. There is a way of going about these things. At the minimum, an invitation letter should include a programme and a short background note on the meeting. It is also customary and helpful for a letter to indicate a contact person to respond to and to send enquiries. None of that:
“You are hereby invited to attend and participate in the Governance and Accountability Summit scheduled for Tuesday October 18 at State House Nairobi. You will be expected to be at the venue at 6.15am whereafter breakfast will be served and the Summit will begin at 7am. Please come prepared to contribute to the interactive sessions, which are an integral part of the Summit. We look forward to your active participation in this important Summit.”
It also helps to speak to key invitees personally, or at the very least an email enquiring about their availability and willingness to participate in a meeting. I do know that this is the practice even in government. I was quite recently a resource person at a workshop for an anti-corruption task force organised by the Attorney General. The officer-in-charge, who I did not know before, called me personally, introduced himself, explained the purpose of the workshop, the participants, the other resource persons I would be sharing a platform with, and once I confirmed I was available and willing, followed with a letter.
It is public knowledge that I am not a fan of the Jubilee Administration. If indeed the administration was interested in my attendance, that message could have been easily conveyed. The SMS I received indicated that it was sent on behalf of a governance advisor, a Mr Kariuki.
He could have called. Mr Manoah Esipisu, an acquaintance of many years, could have had the courtesy of informing us or at the very least confirming that we’d received invitations before throwing our names out to the media. Mr Joseph Kinyua, who signed the letter is a professional acquaintance of more than 20 years. He too could have called.
My conclusion, which I believe to have been borne out, was that there was no intention to have a serious engagement. There is in fact a strong case in my view for the President to have no-holds barred conversations with his team, but that place is not on national TV, with celebrity moderators and a retinue of career criminals and political lowlifes. The government has....
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