NIIMS

Why is state's explanation of Huduma Namba obscure?

Government functionaries who at every turn seem to speak from different scripts about the National Integrated Identity Management System

In Summary

• Though State House is on record clarifying what Huduma Namba is, government officials have often misrepresented facts on the process

• The implementation hiccups so far experienced mirrors how the government bungles noble projects at the rollout stage

Interior CS Fred Matiang'i (2L) with Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua during the Huduma Namba national launch at Masii Boys High School in Mwala, Machakos County
HUDUMA NAMBA Interior CS Fred Matiang'i (2L) with Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua during the Huduma Namba national launch at Masii Boys High School in Mwala, Machakos County
Image: GEORGE OWITI

I recently watched a video clip of top European Union leaders belabouring to explain what Brexit means and realised there is no homogeneity in what Britain’s exit from the EU is.

Back home, there is an ongoing conversation on what the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) popularly known as Huduma Namba is and is not.   

As the exercise ends with over 31 million Kenyans enlisting — and the government’s declaration that the deadline is cast in stone — most Kenyans though having registered are yet to appreciate what the new registration means.

 

The situation has been exacerbated by government functionaries who at every turn seem to speak from different scripts. On one hand, the government proclaims to all and sundry that the exercise is optional in line with the court ruling but quietly employing subtle tactics hell bent on forcing Kenyans to enlist without recourse.

Though State House is on record clarifying what Huduma Namba is, government officials have often misrepresented facts on the process. This has failed to answer that elusive question – What is Huduma Namba?

This, therefore, calls into question on how the government develops, communicates and executes its own policies. If the public officers charged with the duty of implementing government projects do not share the same philosophy as the vision carrier in the Executive, then expect the uptake to be disastrous.

 Wouldn’t it have been prudent for the Executive to train its officers, explaining in detail what the Huduma Namba registration is and what it set to cure in the management and promotion of service delivery? Imagine a case where two senior state officers have to be publicly contradicted and the kind of message that sends to millions of Kenyans who are still sceptical of the whole exercise.

The implementation hiccups so far experienced mirrors how the government bungles noble projects at the rollout stage. Our Constitution obligates those entrusted with discharging a public duty to operate in a transparent, accountable, inclusive and in a participatory manner. Some government mandarins are yet to appreciate these cardinal principles of governance. Opaqueness, intimidation and issuance of ultimatums that fly in the face of the law have become their modus operandi.

The government is by law mandated to continuously roll out civic education awareness in its programmes. For far too long, the process has been left to the civil society actors to be the main drivers, despite their role being that of complementing government efforts.

Pragmatic efforts must be made to give meaning to the principles and values of governance as provided for in Article 10 of our Constitution including setting aside a budget for civic engagement programs. The absence of this will be poorly implemented government programs, wastage of funds and poor service delivery.

 

The writer is an advocate of the High Court and a legal officer at ODM