By PETER OPIYO
His parliamentary colleagues referred to him as Sirikal, the Government, due to his industry and assertiveness in handling security matters.
This he did with seriousness and passion, frequently eliciting mirth from MPs on his mode of delivery. But one thing was clear that Joshua Orwa Ojodeh was one of the most hardworking Government officials on the floor of the House.
Seldom a day passed without Mr Ojodeh answering a question or delivering a ministerial statement on his docket, making him one of the most popular ministers in the Chamber.
Even at Parliament’s lobby area, MPs would flock his table inquiring about commitments he gave them on security matters in their backyard, only to realise that Sirikal had acted before they knew it.
He was a minister who rarely faced the wrath of the Speaker for failing to comply with the rules of the House, and MPs would not complain for they regarded him as a performer. For this, he had friends from across the political divide.
When he graced the opposition benches in Parliament, he earned the name baby elephant but this changed to Sirikal while in Government. For even in the opposition benches, his presence could not be mistaken since he left the House reeling in laughter after making his contributions.
In one instance in 2007 following an accident, the Ndhiwa MP was confined to using a walking stick but he could not enter with it in the Chambers unless he got express authority from Speaker.
Kuria MP Wilfred Machage noticed this and alerted the Speaker who ordered that Ojodeh uses his stick, which he had left out of the chambers.
But the challenge was how to get the walking stick. He then thundered to then Kisumu Town West MP Ken Nyagudi: “Mr Elephant, go for the walking stick!” eliciting prolonged mirth in the Chamber as the ominous 150kg Nyagudi obediently adhered to the orders.
The burly Nyagudi was nicknamed ‘elephant’ owing to his size and Ojodeh was ‘its baby’ for he compared less to Nyagudi’s massive frame. Interestingly, the two habitually sat close to each other in the Chamber.
Born in 1958, his mien made him ‘Mr Fix it’ in political alliances as he won the trust from different competing political parties, making him a valuable asset in Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s camp.
He, however, shied away from publicly participating in political discourse, turning away media interviews on political matters.