State moves to seal loopholes in national honours after 2017 debacle

 State moves to seal loopholes in national honours after 2017 debacle
 NYAMBEGA GISESA

By NYAMBEGA GISESA
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The debacle witnessed during national awards in the recent past in which a struggling alcoholic, abusive bloggers and slay queens were honoured may be a thing of the past as the government moves to restore order in how the honours are given.

The Sunday Nation has established that three months ago the government designated Tom Nyamorata, an Under Secretary in the Office of the President, to bring back sanity to the national awards.

Whereas previously stationed at the offices of the Deputy President at Harambee House Annex, the National Honours Advisory Committee now operates from the first floor of the President’s Office at Harambee House.

This followed an outcry from the 2017 awards in which individuals deemed not worthy of getting national recognition ended up being honoured.

Among the controversial recipients of the awards included blogger Robert Alai, embattled State House official Dennis Itumbi, musician Ben Githae, former Citizen TV reporter Jackie Maribe and Martin Kamotho popularly known as Githeri Man, the voter who was honoured for lining up with githeri during the 2017 General Election.

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Other than being given the task of ensuring that only the most deserving receive the national awards, Mr Nyamorata was also mandated to come up with a mechanism of stripping honours and awards from recipients who have acted below the integrity expected of those who have been honoured.

Mr Nyamorata, who declined to be interviewed for the story, did also not respond to queries whether some of the recipients who have been taken to court over various issues are earmarked for stripping of the national honours.

Despite efforts to bring sanity to the national honours, the Sunday Nation failed to get copies of the State Investiture booklets on citations of past recipients of the national awards.

What this means is that no government office has been keeping records of reasons why the various recipients were honoured, a serious loophole in the presidential awards.

Both the Government Printer and the National Honours Advisory Committee said they did not keep copies of State Investiture booklet of the national awards. State House also failed to produce copies of the same.

The lack of copies raises serious questions on who is the custodian of the national awards.

Normally during national celebrations or at any time of the year, the President confers orders, decorations and medals on various outstanding individuals, both Kenyans and foreigners.

The presidential awards are meant for men and women of proven integrity, whose roles and contribution to the country, and society in general, have been adjudged exemplary, profound, pre-eminent and inspiring.

Other persons who are honoured are those who have excelled in service to the country and to the society in economic, scientific, social, political or economic spheres through a display of exceptional brilliance, courage, commitment and valour in their abilities.

The Order of the Golden Heart (OGH) is for the President of Kenya.

Upon relinquishing the presidency of the Republic of Kenya, he also relinquishes the Presidency of the Order.

The Order of the Golden Heart has three classes — the first, second and third class, also identified as the Chief, Elder and Moran of the Order of the Golden Heart of Kenya (EGH).

The Order of the Burning Spear is awarded for distinguished services to the republic while Chief of the Order of the Burning Spear is awarded to principal public dignitaries, distinguished members of the public service and other professionals, distinguished benefactors of the republic, heads of large commercial and industrial concerns, and officers of the services, of the rank of colonel or equivalent rank and above.

The Uhodari Medal is awarded only to the most conspicuous bravery or for some daring and pre-eminent act of valour, self-sacrifice, or for extreme devotion to duty involving an imminent danger of death to the performer.

In 2009, the Internal Security minister informed Parliament that 7,031 orders, decorations and medals had been awarded since independence.

The rarest of them is the Uhodari Medal awarded 13 times, followed by Chief of the Golden Heart of Kenya, (16), the Moran of the Order of the Golden Heart of Kenya (78), the Elder of the Order of the Golden Heart of Kenya (196) and the Chief of the Order of the Burning Spear (198).

The President has awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, DSM a total of 496 times followed by the Elder of the Order of the Burning Spear (519), the Silver Star of Kenya (673), the Moran of the Order of the Burning Spear of Kenya (726), the Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya awarded 1,115 times and the Head of State Commendations (2,964).

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