While Henry Obwocha, the former West Mugirango MP and one-time minister for Planning and National Development maintained a low public profile, leaders say he was a force to reckon with in political circles.
Several leaders, who attended Obwocha’s requiem mass at the Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi yesterday, praised him as a man who defied the odds in politics.
They included President Uhuru Kenyatta, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula,
While Kalonzo portrayed him as a true nationalist, President Kenyatta hailed Obwocha as a ‘rare’ kind of politician.
“Obwocha was a man of honour and a man of his word. If he promised to do something, he would do it. A man of his kind is a man who is very rare in the political world,” said President Kenyatta.
Uhuru promised to ensure that projects initiated by Obwocha were completed.
Until his death, Obwocha was the chairman of the Privatisation Board of Kenya. the President had reappointed him to the board for another three-year term.
Obwocha started making his mark immediately he joined politics in 1988, then as a young man whom family and friends say was charismatic.
During the 1988 ‘mlolongo’ elections, the Government barred Obwocha from contesting. The family says he was blocked from vying because the Kanu government was wary of young, aggressive and defiant politicians such as Obwocha.
In 1992, when Obwocha ran for the West Mugirango parliamentary seat again, he won with a landslide, and retained the seat until the 2007 elections.
While serving as MP, on various terms he held the positions of chairman and secretary-general for Ford Kenya, Simba and Ford People.
“The man was as flamboyant and confident as a peacock,” read Obwocha’s eulogy.
As a member of the Inter-Party Parliamentary Group, which famously championed for election reforms, Obwocha contributed to the October 1997 constitutional amendment that turned Kenya into a multiparty democracy.
“The late Henry Obwocha will be remembered in the seventh Parliament as the father of parliamentary committee systems. Obwocha, along with the late Hon Bonaya Godana, Bishop Kimani, Julius Sunkuli, Muramba Werunga and Moses Wetang’ula were the members that crafted and established the current parliamentary committee systems which has now been adopted by the Senate and county assembles,” stated his eulogy.
While he was mostly known for his flamboyance and charisma, Obwocha was in many ways, an intelligent man.
In 1964, Obwocha completed Kianungu Primary School with a distinction and progressed to Government Africa School, Kisii School for his Ordinary and Advanced levels. Here too, Obwocha passed with a distinction.
He enrolled at the University of Nairobi for a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce and once again, graduated with honours.
A few years later, Obwocha undertook postgraduate studies in Economics and Management at Templeton College, Oxford University.
As the Minister for Planning and National Development, Obwocha oversaw the team that drafted Vision 2030.
“At the same time, President Mwai Kibaki appointed Obwocha as the acting Minister for Energy, making him one of the few ministers in the Kibaki government to run two full ministries concurrently,” added his eulogy.
Obwocha will be buried at his home in Igenaitambe, Nyamira, tomorrow.