NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 22 – Parliament observed a minute of silence on Wednesday morning as a mark of honour for Kangema Member of Parliament John Michuki, who passed away on Tuesday night.
Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim set the mood when he asked the lawmakers to pay homage to Michuki who served as the Minister for Environment.
“In our usual tradition I request all members to rise up and observe a minute of silence in honour of our departed colleague. In Parliament, he will be remembered as a stickler of parliamentary rules and procedures,” said Maalim.
Michuki died shortly after 9pm on Tuesday night at the Aga Khan University Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit after a long illness.
Gichugu MP Martha Karua described him as “a great leader who not only achieved what seemed impossible, but got others to partner with him in those achievements.”
“One of my greatest memories of him is how he got Kenyans to get involved in bringing sanity back into our transportation industry,” Karua said.
Karua expressed hope that his life will continue to inspire Kenyans to partner in tackling issues that may seem impossible.
“I admit that although we started as allies, towards the end we were not political friends. But nevertheless, I want to recognise him as one of the great Kenyans who made his contribution to this county. My thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones. Michuki, you have a left a gap that will be noticeable,” Karua said.
Deputy Leader of Government Business and Transport Minister Amos Kimunya narrated how Michuki was instrumental in getting him to join politics and also explained his pivotal role in courting ODM-K to join the Party of National Unity in forming a government after the disputed 2007 general election.
“The honourable Michuki has always told us it does not matter whether you are taking a right decision or a wrong decision but make sure you make a decision and don’t leave until tomorrow what you should do today.”
He added; “I do believe that most of us will be inspired in the remaining time that we have in this Parliament to do what we must do for the benefit of this country.”
Nominated MP Amina Abdallah fondly remembered how the younger Members of Parliament always referred to the departed minister as ‘Uncle Mich’.
MPs and Cabinet colleagues alike described him as a fearless social activist and environmental crusader.
Cabinet Ministers James Orengo, Chris Obure, Margaret Kamar, Esther Murugi and Sally Kosgei pointed out that Michuki’s experienced and principled insight will be missed in the Cabinet.
Orengo said Michuki was a gallant soldier in the struggle for the second liberation saying that ‘he always came to Kamukunji grounds with his bokora (walking stick) ready for battle.’
“It is rare that you find someone who speaks his mind. It is better to do business with someone who you can know what he stands for at anytime. You may not agree, but at least with Michuki at all times, whether in Cabinet, in this House and in any other fora you cannot second guess him,” Orengo said of his late colleague’s performance.
Obure said since the 1970s when he served as an under secretary in the Ministry of Finance; “he was a no-nonsense man and did not mince his words. “He was very focused… he believed in personal discipline and in order when it came to the delivery of public service.”
Ndhiwa MP Orwa Ojode urged the MPs to emulate Michuki’s style of bold and principled politics.
“We have lost an honest person; we have lost a courageous and respected person. A man who says no for a no; not a sycophant. We will never see Honourable Michuki again, Mr Speaker. He tells the truth and nothing but the truth,” said the Internal Security Assistant Minister.
Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo poured praise on Michuki saying he was one of the best performing ministers: “A few people are praised when they are alive, this House in many debates did recognise the role that Michuki played. I do remember most us in the backbench have always said that if this government had 10 Michuki’s this government would go far.”
Nominated MP Millie Odhiambo said: “When there was a reform wave in the country and the civil society and the opposition met together in Ufungamano and the youth at that time decided that they wanted a violent revolution, he didn’t know who I was but he held my hand and told me young lady go and talk to your colleagues and tell them if that is the way you are going, then parliamentarians will leave this process.”
Manyatta MP Emilio Kathuri and Lari’s David Njuguna described him as a bold man who always spoke his mind.
“If we even remember how he handled the Mungiki issue which again was in his backyard it shows that we had a determined Kenyan. It was immaterial what people thought of it, but he was focused to ensure that he got rid of the problems that the Kenyan communities were facing,” Kathuri said.