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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Cosmetic mitigation measures in the Garissa massacre incident

Kenya has had to bear with the brunt of terrorism visited on her citizens by the Al-Shabaab not once, not twice but several times. Every time an attack has been carried out, various measures have been put in place to counter the effects accruing from the incident. When there were frequent road accidents, the government slapped a ban on night travels especially for long distance buses. In the Lamu case, a curfew was imposed and a number of young men rounded up as suspects. The question arising is whether the mitigation measures we opt for in the event of calamities are the best way to go.
The Garissa University College attack by the Al-Shabaab militia hit this nation below the belt. Young lives were cut short and careers destroyed thus putting a severe dent on the country’s manpower supply chain. The first reaction on the Garissa attack by the executive was to order immediate admission of 10,000 police recruits to training colleges. This directive was defeated by a pending court case. Another thing that did not dawn on the authorities is the fact that even if the recruits indeed reported, they would not be available for service immediately. It is not clear whether these recruits were going for specialised training to counter terrorism or otherwise. Attacks on Al-Shabaab installations inside Somalia by Kenyan military forces went silent as soon as they started. 
The government closed the university indefinitely and directed students who escaped death to be admitted in other colleges of Moi University. This was in order given the trauma that was visited on the survivors of the attack. Statistics of the dead indicate that deaths involving locals were at minimum. The closure comes at a time when every county is working towards establishing a university in their backyard. Kenyans have opined on the possibility of turning the institution into a military camp. One thing that comes to the fore is that we need both the university and the barracks as they serve different purposes.
The demands by the attackers for their victims to impress on the country’s leadership to withdraw the Kenya Defence Forces from Somalia draws mixed reactions. First and foremost, there are forces from other countries like Uganda, Ethiopia and Burundi. Ethiopia just like Kenya, shares a common boundary with Somalia yet there has never been calls for these countries to withdraw their forces. The construction of a wall fence a long the boundary with Somalia has commenced. The effect of this undertaking in curbing terrorism remains uncertain. This is more so when it is argued that some of the perpetrators of these heinous acts are citizens of Kenya. What the wall will do is to ‘secure’ them right within our borders!             
In targeting institutions suspected to be funding terrorist activities, the government touched the right knob in the fight against the vice. Cutting the roots of supply of livelihood is an effective means in any warfare scenario as this helps to subdue the enemy. The frozen bank accounts of these institutions should remain so until there is assurance that all is well. Let not this exercise be limited to this time of mourning our beloved ones only.
The worst thing that will ever happen to our country is to leave the fate of such serious matter in the hands of politicians. Looking at what local leaders offered as mitigation measures after the attack on students of Garissa University leaves one wondering what linen these politicians are made of. They threatened to name those behind funding of the attack. This has not been forthcoming. There was talk of holding anti-Al-Shabaab rallies across North Eastern region. Such an action could have been counter-productive since is advisable to avoid any kind of gathering in such situations. Did they also propose the re-allocation of the Daadab refuge camp?
There has been suggestion regarding the re-introduction of National Youth Service programme  for student s prior to joining university. This sounds cute on face value but I don’t expect to see armed students moving a round our campuses in the name of protection against terror. It is important to note   terrorism is not directed at universities only.     Let the government seek deep-seated solutions on matters of security for posterity. In the words of Perseus; ‘He conquers who endures’.