After 18 years as the MP for Ndhiwa constituency, the curtains came down tragically on the life of the Internal Security assistant minister Orwa Ojodeh. Read (Ministers Saitoti, Ojode killed in chopper crash)
His authoritative voice and the finality with which he handled issues earned him the nickname Sirkal, Dholuo for government.
Despite coming from Nyanza, which was largely seen as an anti-establishment region, Mr Ojodeh has always been close to the centre of power, even when he was a member of the now defunct National Development Party (NDP).
This access also gave the Maranda High School old boy a unique ability to build bridges across the political divide.
This was demonstrated one day in 2008 as the country still struggled to move on after President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga signed the power-sharing deal that put the latter in charge of ministers.
Some senior ministers from the Party of National Unity, including Ms Martha Karua and Mr Amos Kimunya, were openly hostile to the fact that Mr Odinga had become their boss.
Friends across the board
Then one afternoon, Ms Karua and Mr Kimunya had a most unexpected lunch with Mr Odinga.
The lunch date, which helped to thaw the icy relations between the adversaries, was organised by Mr Ojodeh.
“I am Mr Fix-It for both friend and foe,” Mr Ojodeh once told the Nation.
“I participated in the NDP-Kanu merger and after the Serena talks I was able to organise the lunch because I have friends across the board.”
His friendship and network was underlined when his father Michael Ojodeh died in June last year.
President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and United Republican Party leader William Ruto came for the funeral, a gathering that had not been witnessed at the time because of the political animosity in the country then.
But colleagues in ODM accused him of being a PNU mole or trying to create an alternative centre of power in Luo Nyanza to rival Mr Odinga.
Mr Ojodeh always brushed off such criticism, saying, ODM needed to build bridges across the political divide.
“Raila is my mentor and friend. How can I move away from my mentor?” he countered.
Mr Ojodeh was first elected to Parliament in 1994 following the defection of Mr Tom Obondo from Ford Kenya to Kanu.
This is the second time for Mr Ojodeh to be involved in a helicopter crash. In 2009, he sustained injuries after a police helicopter crash-landed in Kapsabet, killing a man.
The Ratang’a rural home of the assistant minister was yesterday a beehive of activity as hundreds of constituents continued to arrive to grieve with close family members.
And for the second day running, the minister’s mother, Mama Hulda Ojodeh, and her co-wives were still in shock as mourners consoled them.
Ndhiwa district commissioner Geoffrey Omoding once again led a team of members of the District Security Committee (DSC) that included the Officer Commanding Police Division, Mr Job Lesikinwa, to the home.
The DC said the purpose of their visit was to ensure that everything goes on smoothly as burial arrangements begin.
“We are here as the DSC to ensure that everything is okay. We want to work very closely with the family members until our minister is buried,” Mr Omoding said.
The assistant minister’s elder brother, Mr Samwel Awuodi Ojodeh, said that some of the family members were due to leave for Nairobi to link up with the Nairobi group over burial arrangements.
The elder Ojodeh said they were grateful after Prime Minister Raila Odinga assured them of government support during their time of grief.
“I spoke with the PM, who called to find out what was going on and to assure our family of both his personal support and that of the government,” Mr Awuodi said.
At the Ndhiwa District Headquarters, civil servants on Monday spent the better part of the day discussing the tragedy that had robbed them of a hard-working and inspirational leader who had single-handedly helped improve the area.
“Ndhiwa District is now far much ahead of other areas in terms of infrastructural development that was spearheaded by Mr Ojodeh,” said district youth officer Joshua Kaluoch.
The officials pledged to continue with the development programmes Mr Ojodeh initiated as a tribute to him.