Kenyan leaders have mourned Environment minister John Michuki who died of a heart attack aged 80 Tuesday night.
President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga paid tribute to the Kangema MP, who died at the Intensive Care Unit of the Heart and Cancer centre of the Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi.(READ: Michuki dies at 80.)
"It is with deep sorrow and regret that I announce the death of the Hon John Michuki, a dear friend, colleague and patriot," said President Kibaki.
"The Hon Michuki will be remembered as a focused public servant, determined businessman and issue oriented politician. He was a true family friend and a dependable ally."
Mr Odinga said he was saddened by the untimely news of Mr Michuki's death.
"I have received news of Hon John Njoroge Michuki's death with great sorrow and pain. I knew the late cabinet minister was struggling with health problems, but I always believed he would prevail.
"In fact, Hon Michuki's strong personality and will left little doubt that he would survive," said the PM in a statement.
"That did not come to pass. In the minister's death, Kenya has lost a hard working leader and citizen who was willing to give everything for the dignity of our country and our people."
The PM praised Mr Michuki's performance during stints as Transport and Environment minister.
"While so much has been said about the late Minister's brave attempt to sanitize our public transport sector, Michuki achieved equally impressive results as Minister for Environment.
"He fought hard to conserve our rivers, lakes and forests. The results are there for those willing to see," said Mr Odinga.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said Mr Michuki was "a devoted public servant".
"John Stanley Michuki will be remembered as a great politician, patriot, astute businessman and a devoted public servant," said Mr Musyoka in a condolence message posted on Twitter.
"My prayer and sympathy to Hon. Michuki's family as they face this heavy loss. This is a great loss to Kenya."
In Parliament, MPs took turns to praise Mr Michuki saying he was a hardworking minister and an able representative of the Kangema people.
Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim delivered the sad news of the minister’s death to the MPs.
Mr Maalim said Mr Michuki, whose career in politics spanned almost 30 years, was a stickler to the rule of law in the delivery of service to the citizens.
“He leaves a legacy of hardwork and firmness in his discharge of duty,” said Mr Maalim.
The Deputy Speaker noted “the restoration of the Nairobi River where many pessimists believed it would never be realised and a no nonsense approach to security issues” as part of Mr Michuki’s successes in service delivery.
“In Parliament, he will be remembered as a stickler to Parliamentary rules and procedures and he would always rise on a point of order to seek the Chair intervention, whenever he believed that the provisions of the Standing Orders were being breached,” said Mr Maalim.
"We will miss him in Cabinet," said Special Programmes minister Esther Murugi. Her Higher Education counterpart Margaret Kamar described Mr Michuki as "very thorough".
"He is one of the politicians I respected most," mourned nominated MP Millie Odhiambo.
The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, which audits the spending of public money in government ministries, Dr Boni Khalwale, said his committee had never found any malpractice in the books of accounts of the ministries under Mr Michuki.
“If there’s one thing that we can learn from the minister is that it is possible to make it in life without doing it through corrupt means,” said Dr Khalwale.
Lands minister James Orengo, Mrs Murugi, Agriculture minister Sally Kosgei all mentioned courage, single-mindedness and forthrightness as some of the attributes with which Mr Michuki executed his work.
Nominated MP Amina Abdalla too revealed that she joked with “Uncle Mich” and that the minister kept on reminding her to “tell young people not to look for shortcuts".
“If he gave you an appointment for ten o’clock and you showed up at ten-fifteen, he turned you down. And he’d tell you that the reason why he won’t see you was because time was a resource,” said Ms Abdalla.
Dr Kosgei, who once served as the Head of Civil Service and secretary of the Cabinet in the previous government, termed Mr Michuki as a “candid” person, who worked hard, during his time at the civil service back in the 1960s and 1970s.
“If you wanted a honest opinion, he’s the one you’d ask. He gave his support candidly and willingly. May God rest his soul in peace,” said Dr Kosgei.
Internal Security assistant minister Orwa Ojodeh added: “He was a man who says ‘no’ for a ‘no’. He’s not a sycophant of anybody. This (was) the man! “
The Deputy Leader of Government Business in the House Amos Kimunya said Mr Michuki was his political mentor: “It doesn’t matter whether the decision you take is right or wrong. What matters is that you must take a decision”.
Ms Martha Karua (Gichugu) also revealed that while her relationship with the minister had gone sour, she still held Mr Michuki as a hero.
“Although we started as allies, towards the end, we were not great political friends. Nevertheless, I want to recognise him as a great Kenyan,” Ms Karua told Parliament.
Others who eulogised the minister were MPs Aden Duale (Dujis), Abdi Nuh (Bura), Maina Kamau (Kandara), Emilio Kathuri (Manyatta), Chris Obure (Bobasi), Charles Kilonzo (Yatta) and among others.