NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 14 – The late Internal Security Assistant Minister Orwa Ojode was on Thursday eulogised at a memorial service as “a good man who stood tall.”
President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, dozens of MPs and senior government officials were among hundreds who turned up to pay their last respects to the late MP who was among six victims of a helicopter crash on Sunday.
The president said the late Ojode was a personal friend and told the family to “feel free and ask us how we can help them.”
He eulogised the late assistant minister as a dependable leader, a patriot and a selfless servant, adding that his death is a tremendous loss to the country.
Kibaki stated; “Those of us who knew and worked with him at the Office of the President admired his zeal and dedication. He was a dependable leader and for this reason he was often called upon to represent his ministry in Parliament, confident that he would competently handle security issues raised.”
During the memorial service at the Seventh Day Adventist Central Church in Nairobi, the president called on Kenyans to honour Ojode by preaching peace, and ideals Ojode stood by.
“He clearly articulated the measures his ministry has put in place to enhance security throughout the country. He time and again made a plea to his parliamentary colleagues to espouse peace and to Kenyans in general to peacefully co-exist with each other.”
The Head of State said besides his duties in the security docket, Ojode also represented his Ndhiwa constituents in Parliament since 1994.
“He was a development conscious person who initiated projects across his constituency. His brand of politics was moderate enabling him to make friends and contacts across the political divide,” he said.
Kibaki added: “Certainly, we have lost a hardworking and resolute leader whose service to the nation will remain engraved in our memories.”
Prime Minister Raila Odinga also paid tribute to Ojode describing him as a committed minister who was the ‘face of government in Parliament.’
Odinga says the late Orwa Ojode lived the best of his life and all should emulate him.
Odinga said that Ojode – although he was initially unhappy at being appointed assistant minister instead of a full Cabinet minister – gave his best in serving the nation.
He said; “When I appointed the Cabinet this last time around Ojode was not very happy that I didn’t give him a flag and, he came to me and complained to me and we discussed it.”
“Later on I asked him if he still wanted me to move him he said no, I am happy where I am. I think I can serve the country better where I am, it’s challenging but I think I can deal with this docket of Internal Security and try and bring some discipline among our police force,” Odinga said.
The premier said that Ojode and his minister George Saitoti worked as a good pair in government and Parliament.
Odinga promised that thorough investigations will be done into the cause of the crash.
“We will leave no stone unturned, let’s wait for the outcome of the ongoing investigations.”
Pastor Francis Njau who delivered the sermon at the service encouraged Ojode’s family to keep their faith in God.
“To Ojode’s wife and son Andy, after the funeral and burial, we will all leave you. But Jesus will stay with you. Even in a journey of five minutes, always commit it to the Lord,” Njau said.
The Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende called for the government to act and ensure the air transport sector is safe.
He said the accident that claimed Ojode’s life was among the many that have robbed the nation of invaluable personnel, resource and industry.
“Kenya cannot continuously keep losing citizens to fatal accidents whose causes cannot be rationally explained. The matter calls for urgent professional attention to underwrite our air aviation embrace best practice and make air travel safe,” the House Speaker said.
Marende likened the fallen deputy minister to the biblical Joshua who led the people of Israel into Canaan after Moses died.
“Both compare favourably in regards to issue articulation, firmness and resoluteness.”
He said the Ndhiwa MP had through the years turned in a “self made statesman’.
“Ojode performed duties with exceptional zeal and sense of purpose. Like his biblical namesake both of them believed in fidelity to the law that it is little wonder that he was referred to as sirikal (the government),” Marende said.
Ojode will be laid to rest on Sunday after Saitoti is buried on Saturday.
The four fallen police officers who were on board the chopper are due to be buried next week.