Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi had the rare privilege of welcoming President Kibaki to address the nation during the 49th Madaraka Day celebrations on Friday.
Mr Mudavadi assumed the role traditionally reserved for Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka during State functions.
But Mr Musyoka’s absence and that of Prime Minister Raila Odinga presented Mr Mudavadi the unusual opportunity.
The VP is in China, while Mr Odinga is in Turkey on official duty.
This is the first time that Mr Musyoka and Mr Odinga have both missed a State function.
With the two conspicuously absent, it was the time for the Deputy Prime Ministers Mudavadi and Uhuru Kenyatta to bask in the limelight, although Mr Kenyatta did not speak.
Before welcoming the President, Mr Mudavadi, who is also the Sabatia MP, paid a glowing tribute to President Kibaki’s leadership.
“He has given us a new Constitution which is now in its implementation stage…he has also improved our economy and has generally, given the country a good foundation,” he said in his short speech.
And when he rose to speak, President Kibaki laid down his legacy in perhaps his third last public holiday as head of state.
The other public holidays are Mashujaa and Jamhuri days.
The Head of State also promised Kenyans a smooth handover of power after the next elections, a clear indication that he will not hang onto power when his term expires later on this year.
President Kibaki said his government will expedite the enactment of the Assumption of the Office of the President Bill, expected to guide the transition process.
The Bill, he added, will be tabled in Parliament “soon”.
“I wish to assure the nation that the government will ensure peaceful, free and fair elections as well as a smooth transition,” he said.
“This Bill, among other provisions, details how a President-elect will take over Office and processes of handing over with clear timelines’” said President Kibaki.
He started his speech by reminding Kenyans of his pledges when he took over power from retired President Daniel Arap Moi nine years ago.
His vision at the time, said President Kibaki, was that of a ‘working and caring nation’.
“I called upon Kenyans to work hard to repair our institutions, revamp our economy, amend the constitution and return the country back to production,” said the President.
“I am glad that we have lived up to our pledges…I thank Kenyans for heeding my call of making Kenya a working and caring nation. Indeed, we have walked together on this path of transforming our nation,” went on the President.
“This is testimony that we are now masters of our own destiny and we can achieve the status of a middle income country as we envisage under vision 2030.”
To achieve this goal, President Kibaki said the country must remain united, work hard, focus its energies on development but shun politicking all the time.
Emphasis, he added, must be placed on the economic empowerment of Kenyans.
He also asked Kenyans to guard against corruption, which he added, was a great enemy of the country’s development.
Despite the slowdown in the country’s economy in 2011, President Kibaki said key sectors including tourism, information communication and technology, agriculture, infrastructure and others had performed well.
To ease the flow of goods between Mombasa and neighbouring countries, the government, he said will invest Sh30 billion to construct the Dongo Kundu by pass.
He said the government was currently undertaking major road construction and rehabilitation works valued more than Sh103 billion across the country.
He said some sh8.5 billion had been allocated to rehabilitate and expand irrigation schemes in arid and semi-arid areas, with another Sh20 billion being spent to expand other schemes across the country.