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Don’t praise the king when he goes naked, it will boomerang on you.

These are the words of legendary journalist Phillip Ochieng to a cub reporter many years ago on the eleventh floor of Kenya National Assurance Building on Haile Selassie Avenue, Nairobi.

The moral I came to learn, with time, the king utterly despises you when someone else tells him he is naked and yet the obligation was yours but because of cowardice you squandered the opportunity to tell him about his debilitating state.

In Siaya, from morning to evening we hear praises from crooners and court jesters on the myriad accomplishments of Governor James Aggrey Bob Orengo. It’s alright when some of these crooners and court jesters are mere keyboard hippies who make a living out of close association with government officials and ply their trade on WhatsApp and Facebook.

Nonetheless, it’s a cardinal sin when these praises come from employed staff, designated Information Management Officers drawing salaries from public coffers and squandering the opportunity to tell the king that he is naked if at all he goes — naked.

And because the buck must stop somewhere, people are now baying for the blood of my good friend the current Director of Information in the Siaya County Government, not because of any ineptitude, nor lack of professional training, but because he failed to grasp a need for gumption to face the king and tell him he is naked.

The king was naked when information got into the public domain that one of his key adversaries controlled the Legislative arm of the County Government. Did it have to come to the point where MCA’s have to hold the Governor at ransom over some abstract sin whenever he calls them to accountability on development matters?

How about the king’s friends who were awarded tenders in the billions and deliberately collected payments and never completed them; is this information that can be readily seized by the public and not employed County staff responsible for the dissemination of information?

Did one Siaya Member of Parliament notorious for manipulating tenders just happen overnight; or one could see the deliberate efforts to clash the Governor and his Deputy from a mile away, except, of course, those employed by the Governor to tell him who is undermining his Government?

Maybe the new Chief Officer in Administration has taken his docket a step further by opening the space to share information with the public, which is a highly commendable move. But who specifically tells the Governor when he goes naked? In other words, who manages the information in Siaya?

When the cookie ultimately crumbles, heads will roll, and people in positions of authority will wish they had the balls to look Senior Counsel James Aggrey Bob Orengo directly in the eye and tell him that the enemy is from within. The Department of Information needs, not lackeys, but hardcore professionals who can stand up to be counted when push comes to shove. If tenders are awarded openly, contractors have a moral obligation as well as written guidelines to fulfil. That no matter how generous the Governor feels the blooming wage bill tied to excessive staffing will one day return to haunt him.

Don’t praise the king when he goes naked, it will boomerang on you.


Editorial Wednesday 27 March 2024


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