In a momentous occasion held on 26th April, the University of Nairobi celebrated the inaugural lecture of Prof. Migai Akech, who was recently elevated to the prestigious rank of full professorship. The event marked a significant milestone in Prof. Akech's academic journey, providing him with a platform to showcase his profound knowledge in the field of law and share his groundbreaking research on "Taming the Tyranny of the Barons: Administrative Law and Power Regulation."

In his inaugural lecture at the University of Nairobi, Professor Migai Akech explored how Administrative Law can be used to prevent the abuse of power by bureaucrats and preserve democratic freedoms. Prof. Akech argues that we routinely experience "tyranny" in our daily encounters with those he calls the "barons" - bureaucrats wielding power in public and private institutions.

The Vice Chancellor Prof. Kiama’s remarks and the reading of Prof. Akech's citation highlighted Prof. Akech’s remarkable achievements and contributions to the academic community. The citation detailed Prof. Akech's academic journey, from his primary education to his doctoral studies at New York University School of Law, and his subsequent dedication to teaching and research at the University of Nairobi.

Prof. Leonidah Kerubo, Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs, emphasized the broader impact of inaugural lectures, describing them as a platform to introduce professors to both the academic and non-academic communities. The event served as an opportunity for Prof. Akech to share his expertise and engage with attendees, fostering a culture of academic inquiry, collaboration, and constructive feedback.

Prof. Akech explains that democracy requires participatory and accountable collective decision-making. However, in practice there are large "democracy deficits" stemming from an inherited colonial culture of informalism and authoritarianism. Statutory laws grant overly broad discretionary powers to bureaucrats who often act without due process or public accountability. The barons resist democratic governance through tactics like controlling information flows and disciplining critics.

To address this, Prof. Akech advocates using Administrative Law principles like reasonableness, legality, and procedural fairness to constrain bureaucratic excess. He calls for reforming statutes, socializing bureaucrats through a charter of good administration, enhancing civic empowerment, increasing transparency around informal decision-making, and strengthening judicial review standards.

Looking ahead, Prof. Akech argues we must study the implications of algorithmic decision-making powered by AI and machine learning. While such technology could promote fairness and universalism, it could also bake in human biases. Adapting Administrative Law to regulate automated decision-making should be a priority for preserving democratic governance.

In conclusion, Prof. Migai Akech's inaugural lecture at the University of Nairobi shed light on the imperative of harnessing Administrative Law to curtail the overreach of bureaucratic power and fortify democratic values. Through his insightful analysis, Prof. Akech underscored the urgency for statutory reforms, civic empowerment, and transparency measures to counter the entrenched culture of "barons" wielding unchecked authority.


Watch the Lecture here

VC Speech 

Prof. Migai Akech Speech

Booklet by Prof. Migai Akech