Despite coming from Raila’s Orange Democratic Movement, Ojode was close to the Party of National Unity stalwarts, led by Internal Security Minister George Saitoti. They both died while airborne for Ndhiwa.
“He was a development conscious person who initiated projects across his constituency. His politics was moderate, and he made friends across the political divide. We have lost a resolute leader whose service to the nation would remain engraved in our memories,” Kibaki said.
A few feet way Ojode’s widow, Mary and son Andrew, listened pensively. Andrew, 21, is a deacon at his SDA Church in Liverpool, UK.
Raila described Ojode as being the “face of Government in Parliament, and one who practiced fully the principle of collective responsibility”. He is going to be solely missed, said the PM.
“He was the seam that bonded the two sides of the Grand Coalition Government. He never played partisan politics with his work, as he was passionate and committed,” added the PM.
Raila further caused laughter when he said while Ojode was defending the Police Force in the House he would then assure him outside Parliament he would deal with them from his office, as he did not want to reprimand them in public.
“He was a highly-regarded leader, and true Kenyan hero. We will forever remember him for the great sacrifice and efforts he made to promote peace and security,’’ said the President of Ojode. He described him as a personal friend, and not just a political friend.
Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka described Ojode as a good man who made friends across the board.
“He was simply a good man who went beyond party affiliations,” said the VP. “He was dedicated and an example for all to emulate. Let us continue to honour him in the best way we can,” Kalonzo said.
Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende, who perhaps spent the better part of every week listening to Ojode’s answers to MPs, described him as “an amicable personality who endeared himself to the Speaker as a performer”.
In his commitment to duty he likened Ojode to the Biblical Joshua. “Like Joshua, they both believed in fidelity to the law,” Marende said of Ojode, the man he described as the tallest man in Cabinet and Parliament. The Speaker, however, said the country couldn’t afford to continuously lose citizens to fatal accidents whose causes cannot be convincingly rationalised.
“The matter calls for urgent professional attention to reform aviation, embrace best practice, and make air travel safe,” he added.
Marende said Ojode performed his duties to the nation with “exceptional zeal and sense of purpose”.
He said those who interacted and worked with the late Ojode acknowledged that he was an outstanding member of the frontbench.