HAPPY NEW YEAR PEOPLE!!! Last year was filled with trillion of corruption cases sadly very few were sorted out. Let us just hope that 2010 will be different. But just come to think of the statement below…..
WHICH IS THE GREATER evil; stealing Sh100 million from school children or paying a handful of land owners Sh2 billion to leave a forest?
This may appear to be a rather puerile question, but it is one that has been bothering me so much that I decided to weigh both scenarios using a variety of indicators. From a purely accounting perspective, the forest saga is more serious because it involves larger amounts of money.
Put another way, 40 million Kenyans may end up paying Sh50 each to the Mau land-grabbers, whereas each Kenyan has lost only Sh2.50 as a result of the school saga. In terms of impact, the number of children whose lives have been affected by the theft of funds earmarked for schools is much higher than the number who will be affected by relocation resulting from the reclamation of the Mau.
However, saving the Mau now will safeguard the environment for millions of children in the future. While the misappropriation of school funds has an immediate, measurable impact, the reforestation of the Mau will only have an impact when the trees have grown, which could take decades.
From an ethical point of view, the school saga appears to be much more abominable because it goes against the fundamental tenet that one does not steal from one’s own children. The idea that stealing from children is wrong is universal and cuts across all cultures. Parental instincts dictate that when resources are scarce, they are first distributed to the youngest family members. Mothers will often forego food so their children can eat. That is the law of nature, and anyone seen violating this law is considered inhuman.
The fact that money meant for educating primary school children was stolen therefore hits a discordant chord in Kenyan hearts. That is why the calls for the resignation of the minister of Education and his PS have been so loud and furious.The school funds scandal has also revealed how corrupt cartels have been operating since Kenya became a darling of donors shortly after the 2002 elections. When primary education was made free in 2003, donors, particularly the British, scrambled to be the first on board to fund the programme.
So, technically, donor funding for free primary education has been going on since 2003. If the cartels have been operating with impunity since then, why is it that we only get to hear about them now?
The point I am trying to make is that corruption scandals are only revealed when it is politically expedient to do so. Could it be that the minister is merely a scapegoat and that the real masterminds of corruption are still lurking in government corridors? So while we call for the resignation of Prof Sam Ongeri, we must also bear in mind that getting rid of him will not solve a problem that is complex, multi-layered and systemic.