November 25, 2010
For once, many Kenyans breathed a sigh of relief when Micah Cheresem and Charles Nyachae clinched the coveted chairs of the Constitution Implementation Commission and Revenue Collection. It was good news because the two gentlemen have not in the recent past shown any interest in political appointments until now when all Kenyans who thought they qualified and deserved the posts were asked to apply.
I have known Micah Cheserem since his days as Governor of the Central Bank under the Moi regime. A few visits to his office revealed the character of a man who was humble. He was never mesmerized by the powers of his office. Above all, he felt an acute sense of responsibility to Kenyans rather than the appointing authorities. The more reason he was able to restore sanity to the Central Bank and the financial sector in the short period he served as Governor.
His untimely departure from Central Bank in the last days of the KANU regime is still clear in our memories. Since then, two governors served in quick succession leaving nothing but scandals in their wake.
As an accomplished accountant and a principled and experienced public servant, the two principals could never have chosen a better man to head the Revenue Collection Commission for the next five years. More importantly, having carried no political baggage to the office, coupled with constitutional security of tenure, one can see that Micah will have an opportunity to deliver on his promise without looking behind his back as was the case under the one party regimes.
Charles Nyachae’s appointment was equally a pleasant surprise considering that he was probably the only candidate that had never served a political regime in his lifetime. This was despite the fact that his famous father served for decades as head of the civil service and a senior cabinet minister.
Considering that Charles Nyachae was pitted against fellow professionals in the legal fraternity and known political activists such as Kivutha Kibwana, Mutakha Kangu and Kamau Kuria, one can understand why the two principals settled on the humble and self-effacing younger Nyachae.
For those of us who have known Charles for some time now, we can safely confirm that his non-arrogant manner, his apolitical approach to life may just be the qualities one needs to navigate the turbulent waters of implementing the new constitution.
I remember meeting Charles a month ago at a funeral in his Kisii village where we had gone to bury the mother of our common friend. In that funeral, his father Simeon Nyachae had come with all his family members, Charles included.
As the senior Nyachae stood to speak at the funeral, he said many good things about his family and concluded by parading all his children for all mourners to see. As Charles walked past me, he humorously quipped to me and said, “Jerry, you can see real dictatorship on display”.
What Charles was trying to say was that here he was a grown up man and a successful lawyer yet, to his father, he was still just a child to be paraded before a crowd without his consent!
But perhaps the better motive for this mild protest was the fact that Charles has never basked in the glory of political limelight even when his father was in power. He curved his niche in law practice and was content with his personal achievements.
With these two appointments, Kenyans can decipher two important lessons; that it is never too late for the two principals to redeem themselves and deliver to Kenyans a pleasant surprise. Remember when the lineup of the short listed candidates was published in the local press, tongues started wagging regarding the names that were considered to be likely beneficiaries.
For some reason, most Kenyans assumed that it was either Kivutha Kibwana or Mutakha Kangu, considering their closeness with the two principals. In other words, Kenyans expected that it would be payback time for the think tanks of the two principals. Others talked of horse trading between the two principals in appointing chairs to the two crucial commissions. However, common sense and reason seem to have triumphed over political parochialism.
Considering that Rachel Omamo was the only woman candidate among the lineup, I placed my bet on her as the most likely candidate and having been used to be the first woman in many areas, I thought Rachel would equally be the first woman to be appointed to head a commission in this new dispensation considering that all other commissions are headed by men. Moreover, she is an accomplished lawyer, a former an ambassador to France and a former chair of the LSK.
Having said that, one must admit that there can only be one chairman at a time for each of the two institutions. For now, they are Charles Nyachae and Micah Cheserem and the best that we can all do is to congratulate them and allow them to do their work.