Fare thee well, Prof George Saitoti

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BY KENNETH MARENDE

It is with deep sorrow and grief that I join the rest of the country, on behalf of Members and Staff of Parliament and on my own behalf, to express our fathomless sense of loss over the demise of Hon. Prof. George Saitoti, Minister of State in the Office of the President in charge of Provincial Administration and Internal Security and Member of Parliament for Kajiado North Constituency.

The early morning of 10th June 2012 will remain etched in our memories and in the History of Kenya eternally as satanic vile and putrid moment following the helicopter crash that suddenly and most tragically cut short the life of our son, brother, dear colleague, father and husband George. Even as we await the outcome of ongoing and proposed investigations into the cause of the accident we must at all levels as a people forthwith take steps to embrace a culture of ethical behavior and responsibility that incorporates professional conduct and adherence to quality benchmarks including industrial standards. This has to be in a bid to contain the horrendous level of accidents in our nation.

I knew George as an accomplished academician and yet seasoned politician that has had a chequered and illustrious career in both respects. The impact of his service to mother Kenya in the public and private sector will live long after him. Some of his outstanding contributions are immortalised in published works and from the Parliamentary perspective will remain forever cherished as part of our jealously guarded repository for reference during and beyond our time.

In Parliament where he was serving his 6th term at year number 29, Prof. Saitoti stood out as a voice of reason. He applied himself to his duties in all the portfolios he served in with exceptional enthusiasm and diligence ever so always determined to succeed. He kept his eyes on the price – the Kenyan Nation. I had ultimate opportunity to interact with him during the Peaceful Elections Forum at which he displayed solid condour on his expectations and aspirations as to transformation in the security arena that will in the short run ensure peaceful elections and in the long run an enduring secure country. It behoves us the leadership of this country to make this happen.

Away from his policy legacy as Minister for Internal Security and his contribution in the Education sector, among others, Prof. Saitoti will be remembered in Parliament as an incisive, persuasive and influential legislator, able party leader and sharp debator. He was the longest serving leader of Government Business in the House and has left an indelible mark in this regard as a most dutiful team leader with exemplary political skills so knowledgeable and yet checked. In a sentence, to me the good professor was simply an amazing, practical and pragmatic politician.

Allow me to reiterate an assertion that I made at the home of George not very long ago, that many a time the job of the Speaker is very lonely, more so in the face of the high stakes business that is transacted in Parliament, that infact can be said to be the norm, so much so that right thinking company becomes rare but in Prof. Saitoti I found a true friend that stood by and with me during fairly tumultuous and trying moments. He took me into his confidence and was able to share with me his thoughts and information that came in handy as I steered through or around some of those moments.

He was a selfless counselor to me, a true patriot that had over the years gained invaluable experience and acumen that put the interest of Kenya first. The last such occasion that remains firmly imprinted in my mind is the discussion at the Serena Hotel after the formal opening of the peace forum in Mombasa whereat God was the only witness and we spoke about reforms in the Police force vis-à-vis the next general elections.

In the interest of all of us, I refrain further disclosures and just plead, George was an astute statesman, can we the leadership of this country give him the best tribute, complete police reform timeously?

On behalf of all Members of Parliament, its Staff and indeed, on my own behalf, I send our heart-felt condolences to the family, relatives, friends, the people of Kajiado North and Kenya for the sudden demise of Hon. Prof. George Saitoti. To Margret and family, I urge you to find solace in the teachings of the Bible that have a relevant lesson for the every situation among them Psalm 46: 1-2; “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea”

May the Almighty God grant you comfort and give you the strength to bear the pain and may God rest his soul in eternal peace. Fare thee well George. Amen.

(Kenneth Marende is the Speaker of the National Assembly)

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