NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 10 – Tributes poured in on Sunday after Cabinet Minister George Saitoti his assistant Joshua Ojode, two bodyguards and two pilots died in a helicopter crash.
The homage was led by President Mwai Kibaki who described his internal security minister as eloquent and passionate about the reforms he was undertaking within the department.
He said Saitoti left behind a rich legacy of service to the country and described him a hard working minister.
“Saitoti will forever be remembered as a hardworking and determined public servant who dedicated his time to the service of the Kenyan people,” President Kibaki said.
He also stated that Ojode was focused while undertaking his duties with great zeal and determination.
The Head of State pointed out that the pilots and bodyguards (all members of the Kenyan police force) would be remembered for their patriotism during the dispensation of their duties.
“My prayers are with the families of those who perished. Pilots Luke Oyugi, Nancy Gituanja and bodyguards Inspector Joshua Tonkei and Sergeant Thomas Murimi,” he stated.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga on his part described the incident as a great tragedy and sent condolences to the family, relatives and friends of the departed ministers and the other victims.
He pointed out that the performance of the two ministers was outstanding and recalled his last moments with both Saitoti and Ojode at the peace conference in Mombasa where Saitoti spoke passionately about the measures his ministry had put in place to ensure the forthcoming general election was peaceful.
In his message of condolence, House Speaker Kenneth Marende recounted how the two Members of Parliament articulated matters diligently and responded to issues under their docket from other members with outmost zeal and dedication.
“May the Almighty God grant comfort to their families and friends during this trying period of pain and sorrow. May the Lord give strength to their families to bear the great burden left behind by their demise. May God rest their soul in eternal peace,” he said.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague also sent his condolences following the death of the two ministers.
“I was extremely saddened to learn of the death of Kenya’s Minister for Provincial Administration and Internal Security, Professor George Saitoti, along with his Assistant Minister Orwa Ojode and other Kenyans travelling with them this morning. On behalf of the British Government, I wish to extend my deepest condolences. My thoughts are with their families and friends, and the people of Kenya, as they come to terms with this tragedy,” he said.
The chairman of the AU Panel of Eminent African Personalities Kofi Annan also expressed shock and disbelief over the helicopter crash and described Saitoti as a dedicated public servant.
“As the minister responsible for spearheading police reform his demise at such a crucial time in Kenya’s political history is a great loss to the nation. On behalf of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities, I wish to express our deepest condolences to the bereaved families, the Government and people of Kenya at this very sad time,” he said.
Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa also gave his condolences to the families who had been affected by the incident.
“It is with profound shock and sadness that I learnt of the death of Prof Saitoti and Orwa Ojode. I first wish to condole with their families and pray that God gives them the grace, strength and hope to endure this tragic loss,” he said.
“My condolences also go out to the officers and crew. May they rest in eternal peace.”
Consoling the families when he visited the scene of accident, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said he was extremely saddened by the sudden demise of the six.
“It’s painful, unbelievable and a great loss to the nation. This country has lost dedicated public servants,” he said.
Gatanga Member of Parliament Peter Kenneth said that the internal security minister was a treasured personal friend and colleague in government.
He said that as a senior politician, he was always keen to listen and help when requested.
“His passing will leave a void in Kenya’s political scene, especially for the people of Kajiado and in the hearts of everyone who knew him. George’s memory will always remain deep in my heart and I mourn his death with a heavy heart,” he stated in his message of condolence.
Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi said the accident was horrendous and shocking.
He cancelled all planned political campaign engagements that would have seen him address supporters at Ziwa, Chepkoilel, Iten, Tambach, Kabarnet and Mogotio.
The DPM urged Kenyans to remain calm at this time of sorrow when the nation is mourning the great loss.
“The two were nationalists and devoted public servants who have lend great service to Kenyans,” he said.
Eldoret North Member of Parliament William Ruto, Gichugu legislator Martha Karua and Mvita MP Najib Balala also send their messages of condolences through their Twitter and Facebook accounts.
The National Council of Churches (NCCK) also expressed deep sympathy for the family and friends of the late ministers.
In a statement, Secretary General Canon Peter Karanja said the deaths dealt a great blow to the nation.
“The two ministers were great Kenyans whose commitment to internal security and order in government has been impressive. They have indeed left indelible marks in our nation and their deaths are great loss to our country,” he said.
He described the two as unwavering in their commitment in the promotion of the rule of law in the country.