It is with great sorrow and a deep sense of loss that I learned of the passing of retired President Mwai Kibaki.
While I have not had the privilege of working with him in the recent past, my association with him goes back many years when I was honoured to work with him in the then Ministry of Finance and Planning through the 1970s.
As Deputy Permanent Secretary and then Permanent Secretary in his ministry, I had close and constant contact and association with him, and I can rightfully claim him as one of my greatest mentors, having worked with him for over eight years.
I also had the pleasure of playing an occasional game of golf with him.
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As our Vice President and Minister for Finance and Planning, Mr Kibaki provided us with strong leadership driven by unique professionalism, not always associated with politics.
Gifted with an enormous grasp of diverse issues and subjects, coupled with an easy manner of relating to people, he made it very easy for us to work with him.
For him, no suggestion was too small or opinion too absurd as to not deserve a friendly and respectful response.
The fact that many of his reactions began with “Nooo...” did not mean he was negative or dismissive; it meant “looking at it differently...” His interest in people gave him an uncanny ability to remember not only names but also faces of those he met, however briefly or casually.
To my knowledge, he never discussed people and he discouraged such discussion.
Much of what has been said about President Kibaki relates to his great leadership as president. It is equally important to remember the tremendous work he did as Minister for Finance and Planning.
It is in the decades of the 70s and 80s when major developments were carried out in fiscal and economic policies, including major revisions to the five-year development plans, restructuring of taxation laws and introduction of the Value Added Tax, which is now the major source of government revenues.
Significant new investments were made in projects like the Kenya Oil Pipeline, the launching of Kenya Airways, the establishment of Safaricom, geothermal power generation, Gitaru Hydroelectric Station, Mumias and Sony Sugar projects and major expansion in rice production at Mwea Irrigation Scheme.
As we reflect on the life, work and achievements of this great man we appreciate the dedicated contribution he has made for his country and for the lives of all Kenyans.
In bidding farewell to HE Mwai Kibaki, we convey our most sincere sympathies to his family and thank them for having allowed us to share in his rare and unique gifts.
May Almighty God rest his soul in peace.
[Nicholas Ng'ang'a, former PS, Ministry of Finance and Planning]