Legislators pay tribute to late Head of State
Members of the National Assembly yesterday paid tribute to former President Mwai Kibaki during a Special Session.
The lawmakers from both sides of the political divide cast aside their differences to remember the man whose leadership ushered in economic transformation after many years of unchecked plunder of the country’s resources.
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi set the tone of the session when he hailed Kibaki for achieving major milestones that transformed the country’s economic, social and political landscape.
“In him rests an unmatched fallen hero, who shall forever be remembered for his gentlemanly and non-confrontational leadership style,” Muturi told an attentive House.
“He approached leadership from a people-centric perspective that was aimed at improving the quality of lives of the people,” Muturi said.
Kibaki, he said, will forever be remembered for his famous quote that “leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others. It is not an opportunity to satisfy personal greed”.
Guided by this philosophy, Muturi said, the third President mid-wifed several reforms in Kenya’s governance architecture in order to realign it for accelerated service delivery.
“He shall be remembered for spearheading the entrenchment of ideals of accountability and transparency that led to the creation of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, the precursor to Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority (KACA), (and now the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission) to enforce transparency and accountability in government,” Muturi said.
In terms of economic development, the Speaker noted that Kibaki will be credited for formulating an economic recovery strategy that put the country on the path to becoming a middle-income economy.
“His economic model led to a sharp rebound in the economy and was characterised by unprecedented economic boom, growth and development,”
Muturi said that within the first term of his presidency, Kenya’s GDP rose from a low of 0.6 per cent in 2003 to about 9 per cent in 2007.
Muturi said Kibaki embraced self-reliance by increasingly funding of the national Budget from internally generated resources such as increased tax revenue collection, hence reducing Kenya’s dependence on donor aid.
The Speaker said Kibaki was instrumental in pushing for his administration to make momentous contribution to infrastructure development.
Said Muturi: “He shall be remembered for ambitiously rebuilding, modernising and expanding Kenya’s infrastructure.”
Leader of Majority Amos Kimunya described Kibaki as his political mentor.
“Kibaki’s non-interference leadership style allowed for fair competition both at political level and business wise. He avoided “roadside” directives, a populist practice that had previously infused randomness, confusion, and informality into governance,” he said.
He added: “I knew him as a great friend, and I greatly enjoyed his company socially, and in golfing circles. Later he was to become my mentor in politics and my boss in the Cabinet for 10 years. He was a gentleman par excellence, a global Level 5 leader, exuding greatness with utmost humility. His illustrious career and unwavering commitment to serve his country will be remembered for generations.”
Kimunya noted that Kibaki was able to prove that the presidency is a national institution that should not give preferential treatment to any one region in terms of development or appointments.
“The populace learnt to realise that they had to work hard and earn an honest living, and that they could not expect government or politicians to give them free populist handouts. The late President, in particular, was successful in de-institutionalising harambee contributions, which had become ingrained in our political and social fabric,” he added.
Kimunya asked the House to amend the Public Holidays Act to include a Public Holiday in honour of Kibaki due to his exemplary performance in propelling Kenya to become the biggest economy in East and Central Africa during his tenure.
“He aimed to bring about progressive development and stability in his country from the early days of Kenya’s independence. To the utter surprise of the entire nation, he adopted and implemented an economic policy that would open up our great country to international investments that would spur change and unprecedented economic growth. He came into power at a pivotal juncture in Kenya’s history, and without any doubt he delivered,” added Kimunya.
Garissa Township leader Aden Duale described him as a great leader: “I had a rare privilege to serve with Kibaki when I differed with my party ODM and President Kibaki adopted us as his political sons. He was not a petty leader. He did not betray or believe in politics of deceit and betrayal. Kibaki believed in the economy and it was Kibaki who asked banking sector to open up loans to the smallest of businesses in the country.”
He further said: “When he took over, KRA was collecting Sh600 billion, by 2013 KRA was collecting Sh1.3 trillion because he believed in local revenue he did not believe in debt. When Kibaki was leaving a loaf of bread was Sh20 today they are buying it at Sh55. Kibaki had the best advisors, unlike today when you have sycophants.”
Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu described the late president as a leader who was ready to transform Kenya.
While recounting his encounters with Kibaki, Eseli said he would remember the statesman for his magnanimity which saw him re-appoint Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula to his Foreign Affairs docket after he had stepped aside following the Tokyo scandal.
“Kibaki did not disappoint in his tenure. I don’t know whether we would even have had an economy today. However, the most interesting thing I remember is that he was able to re-appoint Wetang’ula back to his position a week after I requested him to do so because investigations had taken too long,” he said.
Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa, who described Kibaki as a family man, said leaders ought to emulate him for his exemplary performance including turning around the economy, introducing Free Primary Education (FPE) as well as reducing the country’s debt.
“Kibaki was a family man, he found time for his family that other leaders must emulate,” said Wamalwa.
Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi described Kibaki as a person who was ready to sacrifice for the sake of the country.
“I remember him for agreeing to have a grand coalition government and from then on he left a united country that we are in today,” said Wandayi.
Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo said Kibaki will be remembered for his non-interference in the running of State institutions which allowed them to operate and function independently.
“I served as the first ombudsman of this country, which was purely merit. No day did he exert pressure on us to work. He let independent institutions run independently,” he said.