Calls for national unity across party and ethnic divides on Sunday dominated the funeral of Internal Security and Provincial Administration assistant minister Joshua Orwa Ojodeh.
Party affiliation took the back seat as President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga led the nation, with 98 MPs present in paying glowing tribute to Mr Ojodeh whose leadership transcended the ODM-PNU divide in the coalition government.
Although he was an Orange party MP, the late assistant minister, fondly known “Sirkal”, was lauded for reaching across partisan divides.
Mr Ojodeh was buried at his Unga Farm in Kanyamwa Location, Ndhiwa Division, Homa Bay County, shortly after 2.56pm.
It was Last Sunday when we received reports that Saitoti and Ojode Feared Dead in Ngong Forest Plane Crash. Other victims of the ill-fated flight were pilots Nancy Gituanja and Luke Oyugi and bodyguards Thomas Murimi and Joshua Tonkei.
The President reiterated his call made during the burial of Prof Saitoti, that leaders who spoke at the two functions live true to their words.
“Why do we keep repeating the same words rather than acting on them, rather than allowing those words to become our guide?
“That is what will make a difference. That is what will bring us together and make us more faithful and genuine people,” he said.
He said of Mr Ojodeh: “This is a sad day for Kenya as we congregate to remember a leader, a patriot and selfless servant of the people. His death is a tremendous loss to his family, relatives and to the country at large.”
There was a light moment during the sombre occasion when Mr Odinga explained why he settled on Mr Ojodeh for assistant minister in the coalition government.
“I wanted to give Mr Ojodeh a full ministerial post, but when it came to the national security docket, a minister had already been appointed.
“There were negotiations, but these would have been like removing meat from the mouth of a hyena.
“So I decided to let Kajwang’ (Minister for Immigration) deal with issuing of IDs and passports while Ojodeh dealt with security issues,” he said.
“I took him to internal security, which was more tasking. He was happy where he was”.
Mr Odinga said that people must think as Kenyans first instead of their tribes if full prosperity was to be achieved. “Lets us dream of uniting this country so that me remove the barrier of ethnic divide.
“Let us be Kenya and one Kenya, that’s how we can pay tribute to Ojodeh and Saitoti,” said the PM, cautioning leaders against seeking shelter in Gema, Kamatusa and similar ethnic movements.
Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka described Mr Ojodeh as a man who stood tall in his ideas and vision for the country just like his towering height.
Mr Kalonzo, who was the chairman of the MPs’ funeral committee, described Mr Ojodeh as “a bridge builder, peacemaker and committed and dedicated servant who conducted his duty.
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