Thirteen days before he met his death in a fatal helicopter crash, Internal Security minister Prof George Saitoti presided over the official launch of his party’s website in Naivasha, in one of the pointed steps towards his resolve to become Kenya’s fourth President.
Prof Saitoti, also a former vice-president, allegedly had also signed a pre-election agreement with Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta. Details of the pacts remain a guarded secret to date.
Former vice-president Moody Awori, who worked very closely with him, remembers the professor of mathematics as ‘a very decent and highly principled man’.
Mr Awori describes the former Kajiado North MP as a man ‘whom you could fully rely on his word’. The import of this is that had he lived, he would have accordingly honoured his political pledges.
The then organising secretary of Saitoti’s Party of National Union (PNU) Maina Kamanda, hinted after the former VP’s burial that the signed deal was about Saitoti’s quest for presidency.
Having taken the leadership of President Mwai Kibaki’s 2007 re-election vehicle, PNU, Prof Saitoti was firmly in control of Kibaki’s succession.
He reportedly faced some competition, though, from Mr Kenyatta, the Kanu chairman, and Kalonzo of ODM-K, all who wanted to inherit Kibaki’s political constituency to face off with then Prime Minister Raila Odinga of ODM.
But this was not to be as Prof Saitoti and his assistant minister Orwa Ojode died in a helicopter crash on June 10, 2012. Two pilots and two bodyguards also died.
The one question that lingers on in the minds of some of Kenyans is: would Saitoti have become Kenya’s fourth President had he lived?
THERE COMES A TIME.
Indeed so much has happened since Kenya’s longest serving vice-president exited from the scene and it is probably impossible to predict how Kenya’s fluid political scene would have changed.
Nonetheless, would he have remained loyal to President Kibaki to succeed him in 2013? And what would have become of the political fortunes of other key political figures at the time?
Would Mr Kenyatta or Mr Kalonzo have eclipsed him to succeed Mr Kibaki? And what would be Deputy President William Ruto’s position in Kenya’s politics today?
Owing to the fluidity of Kenyan politics, it is not easy to say precisely what would have become of his political fortunes.
Nonetheless had he lived, he would certainly be in the country’s top political leadership today, says Mr Awori, the former Funyula MP.
Jimmy Wanjigi, a close business associate of the late minister and one of his strategic advisers, remembers Prof Saitoti’s famous refrain during a Kanu delegates conference just before the 2002 general election thus; ‘There comes a time when the country is bigger than any one of us.’
“Kenya was truly robbed of a most gallant son of our soil. George’s brilliance, intellect and wisdom would have been priceless today.
At this upcoming election period on our country, let us all remember George as one who stood above tribe, above class and above self during his call to duty,” said Mr Wanjigi.
The man who succeeded Prof Saitoti in Kajiado North following his death, Moses Sakuda revealed how the late Minister confided in him that he would not seek re-election come 2013.