Mr. President, Jubilee needs more scientists and problem solvers, not Sycophants

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Jubilee Coalition, aside being the ruling party, is also the party that enjoyed ‘tyranny of numbers’ and more importantly the enormous goodwill of Kenyans, both young and old. Jubilee government enjoys majority in both senate and parliament. And as history will be written in the coming years, Jubilee will not only be charged by its accomplishments but also with the mistakes that comes with groups that enjoy dominant positions. As in life, to those that more is given, more is expected.

Group think is an effect that was coined by social psychologist Irving Janis in 1972. In our case, we can define this to say that a group such as Jubilee party and government can make faulty decisions that lead to deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing and moral judgement”. Any decision that will be made by Jubilee government and defended by its sycophants (those that defend the party even when the it could be a wrong) will affect tens of millions of Kenya, now and in the future. And this is where, Jubilee’s own trusted, loyal but critical scientists can come in. I use scientist in this article to denote all those that can be objective and use data to inform decision making. Some of the biggest distastes that were caused by group think include attack on Pearl Harbour.

The promises that Jubilee coalition made to Kenyan’s, let alone the challenges that Kenya faces today require less sycophant politicians but more scientists. Youth unemployment and inactivity, insecurity, poverty, cyber crime, corruption, terrorism, increased debt, widening trade deficit, need for massive development cannot be solved only in parliament or senate. Perhaps the biggest challenge Kenya faces today is youth unemployment and inactivity 40%, because it brings with it exacerbation of tribalism, increased insecurity, crime, widespread poverty, cattle rustling, post election violence, youth radicalisation, youth adult dependence (1.6 times that of South Africa), ethnic clashes and youth misuse by politicians. These challenges documented in our Vision 2030, while they need Jubilee politicians to speak about and champion, will mostly need work to be done. They will need work informed by data. Jubilee needs executioners of its policy. It needs scientific and critical perspectives to its policy making. These challenges require more doers not talkers. Many endeavours do.

As Kenya grew from colonial independence, it needed people to literally fight for its rebirth. We had our forefathers fight in the fields. And as we evolved into multiparty democracy in mid 80’s and early 90’s, the country needed to pursue freedom for speech and tolerance of divergent opinion and the second liberators had a skill set, that was religious, legal and or political activism. We still need all these skills now. But we need more the science and problem solving approach to our country’s problems.

As we usher in Kenya into a middle income country with challenges of delivering many promises of prosperity and stability to Kenya, Jubilee, the ruling party, no longer needs as many sycophants but rather economists, data scientists, entrepreneurs, data specialists, engineers, negotiators, finance and technology professionals. Jubilee needs people who can now execute the country’s development agenda.

The most important contribution that scientists and other critical loyalists bring than sycophants will bring, is to help Jubilee to face the brutal facts. Jim Collins in Good to Great recounts how Winston Churchill, set up a dedicated team, called the Statistical Office when he was worried that he may not receive the correct information in the correct time. Their task was to make sure that he had access to the raw information as and when it was received. Sycophants would not want the true picture. Winston Churchill believed that when you had the brutal facts, you could make decisions better and sleep well. The second most important role these new kind of liberators will bring is problem solving approach to our nation’s challenges. We need solutions. We need breakthroughs. Many industries, many times the size of Kenya, like computing, music, IT were created in the last half a decade by these scientists. Microsoft, Google, IBM, MPesa name them.

And Mr President, you already begun the historical journey of getting more scientists and professionals into executive appointments when you appointed ministers into your government. Jubilee needs its own critics in and outside the party. Kenya needs them in and outside government.
Jubilee and Kenya as a whole can use its own “OVR- Office of Voice of Reason”- even just a virtual one. Sometimes the voice of reason can be drowned in the sea of noise from opposition and Sycophants.

Mr Kipchumba is a Director at Questworks and adjunct faculty at Strathmore Business School

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