NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 19 – Retiring President Mwai Kibaki delivered his farewell speech in Parliament on Wednesday, with a conclusion that for the first time since 1963, he will not be on any ballot.
Kibaki who has served as a Member of Parliament for 49 years said he has dedicated much of his life to serving Kenyans.
“I have been honored to serve my country as a member of this House since 1963. I thank God for his guidance through this long period. I also thank my constituents both in the then Donholm in Nairobi and Othaya for their faith in my leadership,” said the president as he addressed a special sitting of the House.
In stamping his legacy since becoming MP in 1963 and Kenya’s third President from 2002, Kibaki said the new constitution is one of his memorable achievements to Kenyans.
The Head of State thanked Kenyans for giving him an opportunity to serve in various capacities.
“In my different roles in Parliament as a member of various parliamentary committees, Leader of the Opposition and Leader of Government Business, I have developed the conviction that Parliament holds in its hands the ability to determine the destiny of our nation. Members of this House have the potential to radically improve the lives of the people of Kenya,” he stated.
President Kibaki urged Kenyans to vote wisely in the forthcoming General Election to ensure that they install leaders who can continue with his development agenda.
“I urge all Kenyans to vote wisely in the forthcoming General Election to ensure that the leaders you choose will take this country forward,” said the Head of State.
“For the first time in nearly 50 years, I will not be on the ballot paper. It is critical that Kenyans are led by competent leaders with high moral standards.”
He has released a book containing his contributions in Parliament from the time he was first appointed as MP for Donholm Constituency – now Makadara – on a KANU ticket.
He has also commended the current Parliament for keeping the Executive accountable, and urged the 11th Parliament due to be elected next year, to raise the bar even higher.
The president said Parliament’s role in vetting public office holders had ushered a new era of accountability and transparency.
“For the first time, Kenyans have watched members of the Executive account for their action as people’s representatives thanks to House oversight committees, including the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Public Investment Committee (PIC),” President Kibaki observed.
In his 10-year tenure, the president saw three of his closest allies including his Finance Ministers David Mwiraria, Amos Kimunya, Constitutional Affairs Minister Kiraitu Murungi face votes of no-confidence after parliamentary committees claimed they were involved in governance abuses.
The president also had challenging times especially when Parliament disagreed with him. For instance in 2010, MPs threatened to shoot down the supplementary budget unless the president rescinded his appointment of anti-graft czar Justice (Rtd) Aaron Ringera. Ringera and three commissioners resigned after public outrage.
In 2009, the Executive was forced to eat humble pie after Speaker Kenneth Marende overlooked conflicting letters from the Offices of the President and Prime Minister and declared himself the Leader of Government Business in Parliament.
The principals had disagreed over the nomination of Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka for the position, as Odinga wrote to the House nominating himself.
Soon after delivering his farewell speech, Members of Parliament and ministers showered praise on the Head of State, with many wishing him long life after retirement.
“The president has had the humility and the sense of leadership to accept those difficult decisions which most chief executives may not have to take the country forward. It is for that humility and for that sense of dedication that this House extends its gratitude to His Excellency the President for 50 years of service to this nation and this House,” said the Mandera Central MP Abdikadir Mohammed who chaired the parliamentary select team credited with mid-wifing the new constitution.
Vice President Musyoka, Marakwet East MP Jebii Kilimo and her Kathiani counterpart Wavinya Ndeti described the president as the best example who should be emulated by many leaders in the country.
“We appreciate you for the good work that you have done for this country. You became a Member of Parliament before I was born… I am pleased to have worked with you at my age thank you very much and may god bless you,” said Ndeti.
“Since he took leadership, my constitutes who slept in caves now sleep in houses. I want to thank you for the security we have enjoyed in your tenure” added Kilimo.
Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o said President Kibaki will be remembered for leading Kenyans from authoritarian to democratic rule.
“It is not easy to preside over a transition from an authoritarian rule to democratic one. We must thank His Excellency for having presided over this transition and made it possible for us to build a democratic society. Mr President was capable of giving room to new thought to guide this country to economic growth,” Nyong’o told the House.
Former Vice-President Moody Awori, the President’s daughter Judy Kibaki, Former Finance Minister David Mwiraria and Former Kenya Airport Authority boss George Muhoho were present at the farewell.