Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Alliance Presidential candidate Raila Odinga has eulogized the late President Mwai Kibaki as an intellect who was focused on service delivery
In the statement released on April 22,2022, the former Prime minister said that Kibaki was easy to work with.
As President, Mwai Kibaki was in his best element whenever an issue came up in Cabinet that brought to the fore the intersection between politics, public policy and service delivery.
On such occasions, whether in Cabinet or committee discussions, President Kibaki would allow full debate, taking in all shades of opinion on the matter. At such times, he would merge his long career in politics with his rich academic background and assume the position of a listener.
And when he resorted to his signature ” Oh Yes, Oh Yes, ” you would be clear he had detected the point of action; what needed to be implemented or where the problem was. And whenever he came to that ” Oh Yes ” moment, you would not convince him otherwise.
That is how he was able to buy fairly quickly into the idea that we could implement Free Primary Education in Kenya at a time others doubted. That is how he began the process of ending decades of marginalization of northern Kenya and opening it up through investment in infrastructure. I recall an early morning discussion with him at State House about Northern Kenya ahead of a full Cabinet meeting.
I was pushing the idea that most parts of Kenya developed because of the railway line and that as president, the best he could do for our country was to expand it northwards. I did not have to explain further. ” Why don’t we do it ? ” he asked. Just like that Narc and later the grand coalition government evolved a policy that pushed development projects northwards, particularly via infrastructure.
Even as President, Mwai Kibaki never stopped being finance minister. His eyes were always on the National Treasury and his mind permanently on revenue and expenditure. Figures had to add up and projects had to be initiated only when he was convinced he would be able to finance them.
Kibaki believed in teamwork and professionalism. And once he gave you a Ministry to run, he would leave you alone, unless you were failing him. He stood with his ministers. He stood with me on the need to reposes grabbed land so that Thika Super Highway could be built.
When a section of cabinet colleagues complained against the repossession, which on occasions demanded we bring down structures, Kibaki, in Cabinet, argued that we could not build roads on air, and asked ” What do they want us to do? Oh Yes? What do they want us to do? ” At all times he encouraged teamwork among his ministers.
We are thankful for the economic progress he presided over, and the social security policies he unveiled that we continue to cherish. We have no option but to build from where he left us. May God grant him eternal peace.