When the ruling party Kanu lost in an election for the first time in 39 years of Kenya’s independence, there was confusion among members on how they would manage their new fate.Party members who had captured respective parliamentary seats across the country had thought the rigorous campaigns preceeding the 2002 General Election would usher them into government. It surprisingly hurdled them into the opposition.
But it took the intervention of former President Daniel arap Moi to put the house in order, advising party members to stay put and exercise their roles well in the opposition.
Henry Kosgey, a former long serving Cabinet minister recalled how they were thrown into confusion after Kanu’s presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta lost to Mwai Kibaki and the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc).
Kosgey, the former Tinderet MP, recalled the events that led to Moi’s handover of power to Kibaki after the elections that ended Kanu’s rule.Most party members thought Moi had a wild card prior to the elections only for him to handover power peacefully to Kibaki’s regime in a move that gained great admiration across Africa and globally.
“By then, we had become political orphans. Moi had strong ideals and firm decisions. He had decided and even announced that he was going to retire and remain an ordinary citizen, but a lot of people did not believe he would,” said Kosgey.In handing over to Kibaki, Moi left a stable country and cemented his great legacy.“After the loss, we paid Moi a visit as Kanu leaders at his Kabarnet Gardens home and he encouraged us to be strong and play our roles well as an opposition.
He told us to take care of the country and ensure citizens do not suffer,” Kosgey told Sunday Standard.At Kabarnet, Kosgey added, Kanu MPs listened to Moi who advised them that they had the responsibility of serving Kenyans and keeping the country’s dignity in the opposition.
The former Tinderet MP Kosgey described the former Head of State as his mentor. “Moi brought me up politically. He made me a full Cabinet minister at young age. I would not have been what I am today had it not been for him,” said Kosgey, describing Moi as “an icon like no other”. Moi had tasked Kosgey and Nicholas Biwott, the late former powerful Cabinet Minister, to steer Kanu’s campaigns in the Rift Valley ahead of the 2002 polls.
“We will miss a great man who contributed towards the general development of the nation,” Kosgey said.Uasin Gishu Senator Margaret Kamar also attributes her successes in career and politics to former President Moi.“Ninety per cent of what I am is because of former President Moi.
He developed us and also encouraged us to do things that are practical and helpful to the society. He has left a gap that will be difficult to fill,” said Kamar.Former cabinet Minister John Cheruiyot described Moi as an astute leader with high sense of discipline whose love, peace and unity slogan kept Kenya stable in his 24-year rule.