By James Mamboleo
Look at what others say about the LSK elections for their Rep in JSC.Â Representative in JSC: A Catch 22 Situation for Lawyers.
Ahmednasir Abdullahi’s term as the Law Society of Kenya representative in the Judicial Service Commission ended on December 31 last year in the aftermath of the high octane travelling circus that was the Shollei imbroglio. The female LSK representative, Florence Mwangangi shall remain in the JSC for another 2 years after which she shall also be eligible for a 2nd and final term of 5 years.
It is in this background that the LSK membership proceeds to the polls on February 6 to do a possible three things: (1) to hand Mr. Abdullahi a fresh license to earn K.Shs. 80,000/- per sitting at the JSC for the next 5 years; or (2) to elect Professor Tom Ojienda or Mr. Okong’o Omogeni as Abdullahi’s replacement; or (3), (for purely hypothetical considerations), in protest, to loudly dismiss the options available and elect none.
Let’s consider all the 4 options in turn to demonstrate why this election will be about Kenya lawyers finding themselves within the 4 corners of a classic “devil’s alternative” situation.
Option 1 – No Candidate Elected
One of the three candidates for this position mentioned above will be elected. You can take that to the bank. It is impossible for the LSK membership to whip its collective thinking into a resounding vote of no confidence on all the three candidates.
Option 2 – Vote Mr. Ahmednasir Abdullahi
Mr. Abdullahi evokes a mixed bag of feelings in many lawyers. Some think he is a brilliant, stinking rich, haughty, bigoted and highly cantankerous man obsessed with a shadowy ideal of a highly intellectual legal world in which he is the only chief legitimate player. Some see him as nihilistic, condescending and egocentric.
In plain contemptuous dismissal of those who might dub him an ‘Alshabaab’, he calls himself ‘the Grand Mullah’.
Admitted, he has innumerable commendable abilities. However, he harbours no respect for his colleagues and suffers a predisposition to mock their viewpoint as uneducated and amateurish. You will hear him sometimes admonish his colleagues as having not ‘published a single article in any peer- reviewed journal.’
He led the cheer-leading in support of the young Jubilee government and could not suffer any criticism directed at Uhuru’s government lying down for the better part of 2013. But when, or so it is rumoured, a section of the government started dancing out of tune (read to mean going against his core interest(s)), he started throwing punches at it from all sides.
Being Abdullahi, he of course expects the public, whose opinion he holds to be inherently flawed, to move with him wherever he pushes his tide.
In one of his opinion pieces in one newspaper, he insensitively advised the President to dismiss one community in this country for according to him, that community was spoilt in former President Moi’s inner court. He informed Uhuru that he (the President) should hatch and keep within easy reach, a plan B should that community move on in search for greener pastures. That is plain dangerous and tactless jingoism.
Some say Abdullahi has lost government favour while others are of the view that one side of government â€“ the stronger side, still has his back.
At some point Mr. Abdullahi said he was retiring from the JSC. He was quoted saying of himself thus:
“For some time I really didn’t want to run for another term or even see whether I could serve for a 5 year term. I wanted to retire from JSC.”
“Then there was some document from LSK that falsely created the impression that LSK has any say in the matter. Or that I was recalled.”
Mr. Abdullahi has never sought to represent LSK in the JSC. He sees himself as larger than the whole LSK. He has on several occasions stood on opposing sides with the LSK even on matters that relate directly to his representation. He commendably distances himself from the JSC when it suits him. He has never explained how the former Chief Registrar got so far yet he was our eyes in JSC.
To step on a really sore thumb, all this was happening under his watch as Chair of the Committee on Administration and Finance in the JSC!
While Mr. Abdullahi is entitled to his educated viewpoint on many issues, the position he seeks in this election is one in which the LSK’s, and not his personal view on things should be critical. Inspite of his glowing abilities, the question lawyers will be asking is: ‘will you represent us this time around Mr. Abdullahi? Do we matter?’
Option 2 – Vote Tom Ojienda
Like Abdullahi, the good Professor of Law is a former LSK Chair, a Senior Counsel, and public figure. He has also served as former chair of the East African Law Society and a Commissioner in the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission which made the truth gather so much moss it could hardly recognise itself. The Commission presented a report to President Uhuru that must have been about a completely different country. Prof Ojienda has also authored law books and penned many articles in various peer-reviewed journals.
Many advocates find him aloof and laid back. He is not known to be controversial and cuts out a lukewarm, rather out of place demeanour. Inspite of his glowing resume, he appears maladjusted, dispassionate and spineless. His stint as LSK chair was a classic study in colourlessness.
He has run a well oiled campaign for LSK representative in the JSC. A number of pundits claim he is the blue-eyed boy of one side of the establishment in this race after Mr. Abdullahi was blacklisted. This, they say, explains the vast resources that have gone into his campaign.
On any normal day, fellow advocates find Tom Ojienda as being so disinterested in their daily causes except only as may be coincidental to his strategic interests. He appears in strategic CLE seminars, LSK functions, gives certain interviews or commentaries as may be appropriate in advancing his general interest in the wider scheme of things.
Other sources opine that his handlers find him a more cooperative redoubt as opposed to the more abrasive, forceful Abdullahi. He is not a rabble rouser and the architects of the new JSC are looking towards crafting an even more diminished LSK representation in the JSC.
They feel Ojienda in his nature will be a representative that falsely appears to represent the LSK in the JSC while in actual fact closing that intrusive, engaged and non-compromising keen eye of the LSK on all affairs of the JSC. If those allegations are true, if elected, he will form part of a quieter, more composed JSC whose commitment to Chapter 9 of the Constitution will be more in talk than in practice. If advocates elect him, it will be more out of protest against Abdullahi’s unbridled arrogance and lovey dovey with government than any real alternative lofty agenda he espouses as LSK’s representative in the JSC.
Option 4 – Vote Okong’o Omogeni
Omogeni is a former chair of the LSK and a former chair of the defunct Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC). A fairly quiet and not so controversial lawyer, Omogeni’s intellectual weight has not been highly publicly tested. It is rumoured that he emerged tops in an interview to select the chair of the Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission. The seat is currently held by Mr. Mumo Matemu.
Mr. Matemu, together with the other commissioners were in the limelight for some time after Parliament sought to block their appointment on grounds that upon being interviewed, they were found to exhibit a malignant lack of passion for the job. This condition, Parliament was informed, was totally debilitating in the quest to round up the vicious tentacles of corruption and pronounce on them eternal condemnation.
It is also rumoured that Mr. Omogeni may have been directly or indirectly involved in creating the indigestion that saw the EACC Commissioners remain in the cold for some time. When he lost that position, in his indefatigable quest to serve the country in whatever sphere available, he ran for the office of Senator in Nyamira County in the last General Election. It is said that he wrestled the ODM nomination for the seat from Mr. Abuya Abuya using ‘unparliamentary’ means. When the good people of Nyamira County failed to elect him (maybe because of a possible confusion in names with the successful candidate, now senator, fellow advocate colleague and namesake, Mr. Kennedy Mong’are Okong’o), Mr. Omogeni decided to throw his hat in the ring of his peers to seek to represent LSK in JSC.
A late entrant in the current race, Omogeni is said to depend on a strategy that mixes the ‘nitapita katikati yao’ mantra and a possible tyranny of numbers in the legal fraternity to wrestle this position from Mr. Abdullahi and Prof. Tom Ojienda. Some pundits argue that the ethnic matrixes may favour him should Abdullahi and Tom Ojienda falter.
The question on the lips of many an advocate is therefore, “is Omogeni looking for a job?” If the answer is in the affirmative, can they expect representation from him in a position of this kind?
In one respect, his LSK Council performed fairly well. However, if elected, many expect his term to run on very similar lines as Tom ojienda’s as analysed above.
This is why this year’s election for LSK representative in the JSC is a classic “devil’s alternative situation”.