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CS Matiang’i’s PhD Dissertation Missing On The UoN Website. Was It Mediocre?

Interior CS Fred Matiang'i. [PHOTO/ COURTESY]

Interior CS Fred Okengo Matiang’i is considered one of the toughest Cabinet Secretaries in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government.

He has always caused controversies in the ministries he leads, from education, interior security and lands over his hardliner stances.

Despite his ‘loaded’ academic history, he will always shun cognitive discussions for reasons best known to him. He rarely appears in media interviews, and will always shun a debate among his peers by all means.

This is unlike a man who is said to have studied Communication and Comparative literature.

A spot check on the University of Nairobi (UoN) website reveals that in his PhD dissertation, Matiang’i studied women authors, (Ba, Head and Emecheta) and was supervised by a woman academic, Prof Chesaina.

However, the whole paper has been pulled down from the UoN website and the synopsis remains, raising questions on his performance.

“You do not have the credentials to access the restricted item hdl:11295/18911. The selected item is withdrawn and is no longer available,” reads a response on the UoN website.

This is a bit unusual and weird for a man who has served as a top government official for over five years, let alone teaching in two public universities.

If one cannot be judged from his academic performance, there is another way; looking at his career performance.

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For Matiang’i, good performance entails pleasing the public and too much media appearances without any change internally.

Matiang’i’s story can be alluded to the Biblical allegory of the Pharisees, who would wash the outside of the cup and leave the inside dirty.

In his stint at ministry of education, Matiang’i allegedly did away with cheating. But looking at the effect, nothing improved in the education sector. Any administrative policy should improve the standards of the respective sector, which Matiang’i did not achieve in his tenure a the helm of education sector.

Matiang’i also introduced the competency based curriculum, before he was transferred to the ministry of interior security. His successor Ambassador Amina Mohammed openly admitted that it would not be possible, before he was coerced to implement it. She had to play by Matiang’i’s rules, before she was transferred to the ministry of sports.

Prof George Magoha came in with a storm determined to complete Matiang’i’s journey, but weeks into it it has backfired and he is meeting Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) officials to negotiate.

Three CS’s all unable to implement one policy means the policy has an issue, and was not well thought-out. The ball goes back to Matiang’i here.

Maiang’i also re-introduced Michuki rules while in the ministry of interior affairs in conjunction with his transport counterpart James Macharia. As usual, Matiang’i was in the forefront but could not ‘keep the fire burning’. The rules have been forgotten months after they were re-introduced.

These failures, among others, can be attributed to lack of consultation of stakeholders in the sector. It is a result of wanting to be ‘seen’ rather than implementing a viable change that will remain even when you are not there.

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Such policies can be made by leaders who went to school, but never acquired education. These decisions are made by leaders who are not proud of their academic works, just like Matiang’i.

“Matiang’i’s academic qualifications beg the question why he has never engaged us in the humanities in discussion of the decisions he makes. Humanities demands a consciousnesses of the human implications of policy.,” says a Kenyan, Mwalimu Wandia, who tried to check Matiang’i’s papers at the UoN portal.

At one time, BBC journalist Larry Madowo termed him as a person elusive to hard questions and rigorous debate, something odd for a person who taught language and literature.

“There is little empirical evidence so far that all of Dr Matiang’i’s reforms are anything more than window-dressing. His seemingly superior performance might be blamed on a country so accustomed to low standards that even minimal effort is seen as monumental success,” wrote Madowo.

In the government circles, Matiang’i seems to be a lone ranger, avoided by his peers for bulldozing them since he was appointed by President Kenyatta to oversee all government projects undertaken under all ministries.

CS’s are forced to appear with him in media briefings, but after that everyone goes his way.

Such character of Matiang’i shows a person who does not have in-depth knowledge of matters he deals with and lazy personality who fears to research on viability before implementing policies.

Avoiding of interviews and engagements is a defense mechanism, to avoid showing strong grasp of policy matters.

Unknown to many, Matiang’i renamed his degree from Language and Literature to Communication and Comparative Literature, a non-existence degree at the UoN.

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Written by Kahawa Tungu


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