Leaders turn spotlight about fake degrees on Jubilee Party aspirants

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and his opponent Nyali MP Hezron Awiti, during the opening of a link road which connects Ratna Square and Kenol in Nyali constituency. [Photo: Omondi Onyango/Standard]

The controversy surrounding the academic qualification of Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho has taken a new twist after a section of leaders demanded that prominent Jubilee politicians at the Coast be investigated as well.

The certificates circus has now moved to Kilifi where Governor Amason Kingi has called on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to urgently investigate the authenticity of certificates held by other gubernatorial aspirants at the Coast.

Saturday, Kingi and Rabai MP William Kamoti claimed that certificates held by some of the aspirants for the gubernatorial seat could be suspect. Kilifi County has six gubernatorial aspirants, including Kingi who is a lawyer, Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro, businessman Michael Tinga, community activist Benjamin Dadu, Pwani University lecturer Gabriel Katana and former Labour Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi.

Following a protracted debate and doubts raised about Joho’s academic credentials, Coast leaders aspiring for gubernatorial seats in all the six counties are also under growing pressure to make public their school records from primary through to university.

Joho’s records are now a matter of police investigation after the State claimed he forged a KCSE results slip to gain admission to University of Nairobi (UoN).

The controversial results slip showed that a person by the name Hassan Ali scored a grade C plus at Serani Secondary school in 1992, but the governor denies any link to the forgery and has confessed that he scored a grade D-Minus at the same school in 1993.

Not legitimate

He said he has no need to forge a document “because I am proud of my grade D-Minus” as he holds a bachelors degree from Kampala University in Uganda and a second bachelor’s degree from Gresta University in Thika, the same college which Mung’aro attended and graduated from a few years ago.

The Coast has had its fair share of not so well educated leaders who rose to national prominence and power inspite of low education credentials.

Joho’s case has sparked a debate on both sides of the political divide in a region where leaders have rushed to university in the last two years to acquire degrees. Reports indicate some of these papers are not legitimate because some of the leaders did not graduate from primary or secondary school.

Rights groups are saying that even those with degrees are not above reproach and should produce their academic records.

“It is paramount that people who have declared their interest to vie for governorship make clear their academic credentials,” said Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo.

According to Madzayo, “some of the loudest critics of our governor have questionable credentials.”

Like Joho, Mung’aro graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in Business Management from the Thika-based Gretsa University, an institution whose charter Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has threatened to revoke.

It is not clear who Governor Kingi was targeting, but questions have in the past been raised over former CS Kambi’s and Mung’aro’s degrees because of the university where it was issued. In 2014, a civil activist also sought orders to compel the then Labour Cabinet Secretary to produce his education certificates.

Kambi, however, insists that he was an undergraduate student at the University of Eastern Africa Baraton where he graduated with Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies.

In 2001, Likoni MP Mwalimu Masoud Mwahim, who sat the KCSE as a private candidate at Kwale High School, scored a mean grade of E in all the eight subjects.

The former Mombasa mayor remains one of the most astute leaders in the Coast and will be defending his seat.

As the controversy surrounding Joho’s academic qualifications rages on, a section of leaders from the region are questioning why residents elect leaders with questionable education backgrounds.

“How can we say that scoring a D-Minus is ok? We are trying to uplift the standards of education in the region. We cannot celebrate such mediocrity,” Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar said.

Omar is an almuni of Lenana High School and Moi University’s School of Law where he was expelled in 2000 and readmitted in 2003. Suleiman Shahbal, a banker of repute who is gunning for the Mombasa governor’s seat, is said to hold two master’s degrees and a bachelor’s degree in finance from US and Kenyan universities.

Hezron Awiti Bolo who also wants to be governor of Mombasa has not made his records public.