, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 5 – Former top government officials who worked under President Mwai Kibaki recall former first Lady Lucy Kibaki as a disciplinarian who ran a ‘secret network’ to put them in check.
As her husband ran affairs of the government as the Head of State, Lucy on the other hand, had her own ‘force’ to monitor public officials to ensure they did not fail the government’s target of development and efficient service delivery.
Francis Kimemia, former Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet told Capital FM News that Lucy acted like Kibaki’s deputy.
She went to the extent of summoning officials whenever she thought things were not running as expected.
“Lucy was a leader, she was manager… she was kind of a deputy president, running affairs of government; checking which ministries were not working. She had her own network to tell her which ministry was not delivering,” Kimemia recalled.
In her hands-on authoritative and resolute nature, Lucy would summon government officials and give them a piece of her mind especially where they had failed to attend to their duties efficiently.
Kimemia regretted that in the public’s eye, Lucy was unfortunately misunderstood.
Despite her strictness, Kimemia explained, she would in the end correct mistakes.
“She would summon us in government to go and give an account of how services will be improved,” he said.
“Of course if she called you, you prayed to your God that you had not done something wrong. But if you had, she would tell you to your face. She would correct you but she would follow up to see if things had been corrected,” Kimemia recounted.
Despite the toughness, humility and concern for the poor melted her heart.
She did anything possible to assist the needy in the society, sometimes to levels that shocked State officials.
“I remember her as a lady who was so concerned with the poor that we wondered what used to inspire her,” Kimemia remembers.
Lucy, a daughter of a pastor had ‘strong values of Christianity, charity and humility,’ probably a link to her passionate love for orphans especially those affected by HIV/AIDS.
Fred Gumo, a former Cabinet Minister in Kibaki’s government described Lucy as a tough woman; “Lucy was a very strong lady and very decisive. It’s not easy to get such ladies who can stand by their decisions under all circumstances.”
Anyang’ Nyong’o who was at the time Minister for Health remembered Lucy as a tough-talking person who wanted to see things run smoothly.
“She did keep order in those days and we appreciated her for that.”
“She was our mother at State House when we were in the cabinet. Everything that has been said about her is true. She was focused.”
Lucy passed away last Tuesday while undergoing treatment in London.
She will be buried on Saturday at her home in Othaya.