BY ALBERT NYAKUNDI
It is the duty of Journalists and the media in general to set free any information ‘imprisoned’ by the government.
This helps the citizenry to make critical decisions on matters governance and scrutinize government officials.
I find it unconvincing that the President through a special gazette notice on June 1,2020 awarded presidential honors to twelve Journalists with nine of them coming from one media house-Royal Media Services.
KTN, KBC and Daily Nation each had one Journalist receiving the state commendation.
This was in recognition of their efforts in helping the government fight the current pandemic, Covid-19.
There are hundreds of media companies in the country including community radios recognized by both the Media Council Of Kenya and the Communication Authority of Kenya whose contribution went unnoticed.
It is common knowledge that most of them including online publications and broadcasters have been concentrating on news and programmes touching on the pandemic, yet the government did not acknowledge this fact.
I am not saying the nomination process was unfair.
I am happy for my fellow Journalists.
My point is if the government were to recognize Journalists, it should have awarded Journalists who have criticized the way Covid-19 cash has been utilized.
Journalists that bravely faulted the police who killed and injured innocent Kenyans while enforcing the curfew should have been on the list.
Those that risked lives to tell us about the recent killer floods too.
No Journalist can challenge the very government that awards him.
These awards must be scrutinized by the Media Council Of Kenya with a view of declaring them a conflict of interest- An enemy of free press.
I believe these awards on Madaraka Day therefore are meant to blindfold the media not to fault the government during this pandemic by calling on accountability and upholding the rule of law.
State commendations should strictly be awarded to civil servants and other public officers who showcase patriotism in their line of duty.
A regional administrator or a police officer who ensured chang’aa dens and bars remained closed during this period is the one Uhuru and Kenyans need more.
I am happy that the president recognized a 29-year-old police constable (W) Caroline Makena.
She voluntarily made face masks out of her personal savings and distributed them to her colleagues and locals in the interior of Elgeyo Marakwet county.
She is stationed at Tot police station.
She should also be promoted unconditionally because she has demonstrated leadership and patriotism.
How about Joram Kugeria, the cobbler who relocated his office to Chuka police station to mend police officers’ shoes for free so that they can concentrate on enforcing covid-19 protocols?
He escaped the eyes of the National Honors and Awards Committee that forwards recommendations of nominees to the president, didn’t he?
I am calling upon the private sector and the civil society to support journalists so that the current press remains independent.
The rate at which the government is seducing members of the Fourth Estate by offering government jobs and political appointments is mind boggling.
I am not against career growth.
Lastly, I call upon fellow journalists to remain focused, vigilant and keep the government on toes.
This is particularly important at a time when the country has no opposition politics.
Albert Nyakundi is the Head of Media at Professional Criminologists Association of Kenya-PCAK. His views are personal not the official position of PCAK.