As we start the countdown to the end of the Kibaki presidency and enter the twilight of his reign, one man’s elderly sagacity, firm hands, calm head, astuteness and rational management of the affairs of the State will be dearly missed.
Mr Francis Muthaura, who until he resigned was the President’s confidant, was a strong stabilising factor in the management of the affairs of the State.
He will be greatly missed as we embark on a transitional election and an end of an era.
Even though Mr Muthaura was a fixture in the President’s corner, he was always conscious of the broader national agenda and its varied dynamics.
He was too sophisticated and wise to put personal interests ahead of a national calling. He at times acted as the President’s Mr Fix-it, but never lost sight of the country and the national repercussions of his brief.
He was a man who used to balance everything and always strived to maintain a stately equilibrium of issues.
He was very unassuming and his long career in the civil service prepared him to understand that exercise of power requires an element of modest self-deprecation.
He refused to let power get into his head or put his hand in the till. He was a man who even though he exercised power to the very limit, gave one the impression of an outsider.
Some believe that during his time, Mr Kibaki was the President but Mr Muthaura ran the presidency.
The Office of the President has undertaken a number of actions that proved unpopular both with politicians and the general public.
The unilateral appointment of 47 county commissioners is a sign of the unilateralism that has become the whole mark of the post-Muthaura OP.
The appointments have proved quite controversial as it shows the obsession of some mandarins in the President’s office to maintain both the edifice and structures of the provincial administration.
The other recent issue that was mishandled by the Office of the President is the appointment of members of the Police Service Commission.
There is some reasonable suspicion that the office is showing its hand rather early in relation to the recruitment of the inspector-general and his deputies.
Another aspect of Mr Muthaura’s reign that will be missed was his insight into how civilians should complement and exercise restraint over the security organs of the State for the national good.
He was a person who always gave the perspective of a civilian when analysing a given security situation. There are great dangers that as we approach the elections, certain security organs might turn rogue and partisan for the purposes of the election.
This will be compounded if the civilian officials in the loop elect to pursue narrow political interests that are in the same wavelength as those of the security organs.
The twilight period of any regime is usually the period when the worst damage occurs across the political and financial institutions of the State. In Kenya, especially due to the infancy and fragility of institutions, greater vigilance is required.
At this point in time when President Kibaki is preparing to retire, the transition really needed someone like Mr Muthaura who would have guided the President to retirement.
It doesn’t require someone who wants to be part of the incoming administration or one who has an eye on his own personal self-preservation. It is always political suicide for the transition of a country to be managed by individuals with vested political and personal interests.
Lastly, President Kibaki needs someone who smoothly takes him through the last months of his presidency. Such a person must have his eyes only on one price.
That is to ensure that the transition is smooth, and that the President’s legacy is captured beautifully, peacefully and gently for Kenyans to remember him fondly.
Ahmednasir Abdullahi is the publisher, Nairobi Law Monthly. firstname.lastname@example.org