Home COLUMNS AND OPINIONS Why Kagwe should revoke sacking of top Kemri scientist

Why Kagwe should revoke sacking of top Kemri scientist

by biasharadigest
RUTH ONIANGO

By RUTH ONIANGO
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Joel Lutomiah, who was recently sacked from Kemri, is a hugely accomplished scientist, of world renown, who is highly specialised in vector-borne diseases.

Like most really good scholars, he does his work quietly, publishes, mentors and puts Kenya on the global map.

We are extremely lucky to have people like him at a time when all of us are looking for answers and can only resort to prayer to try and find those answers (which is not bad).

I can tell you that the top researcher, at a crucial time like this, is hot cake. He is trending online and, maybe, he already has received many job offers.

Would anyone blame him if he decided to leave? Patriotism does not come for free. My country has to deserve it.

Dr Lutomiah has been unfairly treated. I know it is quite hard for the government to rescind its decision and say, “I am sorry.”

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But, at my age, my wisdom tells me that Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe would earn high marks if he acted uniquely, out of the ordinary, and said: “I am sorry; I acted hastily.”

We would understand. After all, he has been, and continues to be, under a lot of pressure.

I was in Parliament with Mr Kagwe and I am one of those who celebrated his appointment, after those three “enemies of Kenya” — who, I believe, are still paid by taxpayers — fumbled.

Nobody is perfect. But I can imagine CS Kagwe hardly sleeps as he wants to deliver. He wants to save Kenyan lives. And he has done a great job.

He wonders why Kenyans (many) do not wear masks, how escapees evade police roadblocks from Nairobi to Kericho, why people do not social-distance — why Kenyans are so stubborn! Well, my mother used to say, “Better cows than human beings.”

In his next phase, Mr Kagwe would wish to study human behaviour. He is still young with a whole future ahead of him, and I wish him well. He will succeed.

Now back to Dr Lutomiah. At his level, I just do not see him acting defiantly — unless it is for the benefit of his colleagues, and Kenyans.

How much of the billions Kenya is getting is going to Kemri? The government need to come out clean on his firing.

In the UK, the doctor (senior consultant Abdul Mabud Chowdhury) who wrote to the Prime Minister on Facebook asking that each frontline staff be provided with personal protective equipment (PPEs) later died of the disease.

His colleagues and family were comforted by the fact that his message and death shone the spotlight on the issue. Many more frontline personnel in the UK have, sadly, succumbed to the disease.

US Navy Captain Brett Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt was demoted for intervening on behalf of his colleagues. He probably will be reinstated following an outcry.

Capt Crozier’s immediate boss told him off for not following the line of command. The boss had to resign in shame.

The captain tested positive for the coronavirus, so did 856 of the sailors he was commanding. One died. The ship had 4,800 sailors.

He had been trying to follow the line of command but nobody would listen. Then his last letter went viral. Action was taken and he lost his position. His words were: “Sailors do not have to die. We are not at war.”

In Wuhan, China, the whistleblower on the virus, Dr Li Wenliang, died of the disease, in humiliation, but after passing on a prescription on treatment.

The Beijing government hounded him to his death. But they have come back to honour him in death as a hero, to apologise to his wife and reprimand those who got him into trouble in the first place.

Then, of course, you know about our very own Gire Ali, who was suspended by Kenya Airways for letting us know that a Chinese aeroplane had just landed at the JKIA, Nairobi. He only got his job back because of protests by Kenyans.

If Ali’s suspension drew international attention, raising Kenya’s Covid-19 risk level to sixth in Africa, what about the sacking of a top scientist working on an issue of grave concern to the whole world?

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