Kibaki honors children with national awards

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 00:00 -- BY FRANCIS MUREITHI AND WAMBUGU KANYI
Kibaki and Judy in London
UNITED KINGDOM, London : Mwai Kibaki (L), President of Kenya, with his daughter Judy Kibaki arrives for a London 2012 Olympic Games reception, hosted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, at Buckingham Palace in London on July 27, 2012. Photo/AFP

President Kibaki has presented his two children— Judy and Jimi—with national awards for service to the Kenyan people.

Judith WanjikuMwai received a First Class Chief of Burning Spear (CBS) while her brother, James Mark Mwai received Second Class Elder of the Order of the Burning Spear.

The Kibaki children are included in the list of national award recipients published in the Kenya Gazette last week. The honors were made on Jamhuri day which is also the last for Kibaki whose ten year term ends with next year's election.

Those accorded the national awards are supposed to be people who have made outstanding contributions to the nation in various capacities and responsibilities.

Judy is the President’s eldest daughter and remains one of Kibaki’s most visible children. She is known to represents her family in most of the private businesses where they have interest.

On several occasions she has been seen accompanying Kibaki to select state and private functions.

Last October, Judy was appointed as a member of the board of the Brand Kenya. She also serves on the board of state institutions such as the Street Families Rehabilitation Trust Fund as well as the Export Promotion Council.

Kibaki’s son Jimmy is a businessman. The President’s other children are David Kagai, and Tony Githinji whose public visibility since their father's election has been below the radar.

According to the Kenya Gazette notice of December 11, 2012, Judy has been conferred CBS alongside Supreme Court Judges Njoki Ndung’u and Jackton Boma Ojwang.

Also awarded the same honour as Kibaki’s daughter are the acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Professor George Imbanga Godia, and acting Justice PS Kibaara Gichira.

Others are the Teachers Service Commission secretary Gabriel Lengoiboni, Judiciary Chief Registrar Gladys Shollei and Simon Nyutu Gicharu who is the chairman and founder of Mount Kenya University, based in Thika.

Fifteen persons were conferred with a CBS which is the second most prestigious presidential award after the  Order of the Golden Heart of Kenya (EGH).

Nine persons including acting head of Public Service Francis Kimemia, Attorney General Githu Muigai and internal security minister Katoo ole Metito received the EGH award.

Others awarded EGH include Cabinet minister Eugene Wamalwa (Justice and Constitutional Affairs), Ababu Namwamba (Sports), Prof Margaret Kamar (Higher Education), Musa Sirma (East African Community), Jamleck Kamau (Nairobi Metropolitan) and Danson Mwazo (Tourism).

Awarded an EBS alongside Kibaki’s son Jimi include Justice Erastus Githinji, Justice Kalpana Rawal, constitutional lawyer Prof Pal Yash Ghai, the CEO of Vision 2030 Mugo Kibati, the chairman of the Police Service Commission Johnston Kavuludi, Cotu boss Francis Atwoli, and former head of Vice President Press Service (VPPS) Muthui Kariuki who was recently appointed the new government spokesman to replace Dr. Alfred Mutua.

The criteria used for the awards is that the recipient must be a man or a woman of proven integrity whose role and contribution to the country and society in general  has been found to be exemplary, profound and inspiring.

The awards are also granted to people who have excelled in service to the society and to the country in social, economic, scientific or professional spheres through display of exceptional brilliance, courage, commitment and valour in their service.

The selection of those to be honoured and the criteria used are shrouded in secrecy, which always raises questions as to whether the recipients are being recognized on merit or political and other considerations.

Also receiving recognition are some of President Kibaki's close friends and associates, many from Othaya with the presidential medals.

Among those recognized are his longtime friend Peter Kanyago  who is also the national chairman of Kenya Tea Development Agency.

Kanyago got an EBS to add to the Moran of the Burning Spear (MBS) which he also received in the early years of the Kibaki regime. He was recognized for his good and excellent work in the tea industry.

Other awardees include the Othaya Constituency Development Fund chairman Karanja Mwangi, considered Kibaki’s bosom friend who received the gong for the Order of the Golden Warriors (OGW); a close Kibaki ally Gichuki Mugambi, who has been the chairman of Othaya Development Association and who is also vying for Othaya parliamentary seat was awarded the Moran of the Burning Spear ; a Kibaki buddy and prominent tea farmer in Othaya,Naftali Wachira alias Wamahuro who received the Head of State Commendation award.

Last year, the criteria used in the nomination of people to receive the national awards and recognition was put under the spotlight after a group of civil servants accused Cabinet ministers of forwarding undeserving persons for State commendation.

Civil servants from the Ministry of Local Government wrote to the then head of Public Service Francis Muthaura and the then Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission claiming that persons with questionable characters have been presented for decoration and recognition by the President.

The national honors started being issued in 1967. By July 2002, 4,460 Kenyans and 75 foreign nationals had been awarded.

Of the total awards, founding President Jomo Kenyatta gave out 377 awards while the rest— 90 per cent— were issued during the 24-year of retired President Moi.

Majority of those who received the awards were politicians, civil servants and military chiefs who closely identified with the former President. Also recognised in Kibaki's Jamhuri Day list included Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore.