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Friday, February 5, 2010

My day with the principals.....

Good people, thanks for all the comments you "facebooked" to me. I appreciate.
Today, I left my house at 5.10 am to beat the traffic. It is a Friday and it is endmonth, so you can sympathise with me, again I sacrificed my sleep (just three-and- a-half hours of sleep) to be at work on time. This Nairobi!
That's because last night, my editor booked me for an 8.30 appointment with President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga at the government's Kenya Institute of Administration. But that was not the only thing on my mind, another editor for the Sunday Nation also wanted a story. So two assignments, the Sunday Nation one to be delivered before 8.30am, because with Kibaki and Raila you never know what time you will sit down to write the story.
There was no hassle today, apparently the Presidential Guards have learnt some manners on how to treat journalists, but again as Isaiah Kabira, the Presidential Press Service boss said, if he invites you, you are free to come. Woe unto you if you gate-crash a presidential function.
Yeah, that's Kenya, where the President wants some privacy regardless of whether he is in his bedroom or not. But I digress. Bad manners!
So, when Raila walked into the meeting room with Kibaki, they found all the government mandarins seated ready for a dressdown on the skyrocketing corruption in government. As usual, there was "entertainment" from the National Hospital Insurance Fund choir.
Raila sat stolidly, both hands on the table. Just staring. Indifferent.
Do you know what the choir sung? "Yesu anaweza" and "Naipenda Kenya Yangu". Nice rhythmic songs, I tell you!
While Raila looked around hoping for the thing to end, Mr President was enjoying the music. Give it to Kibaki for that. He has been through alot, and he can't "refuse" the entertainment. It will be impolite.
So he tapped the song slowly a white pen with a light-blue cap on the table. He rotated the pen slowly by slowly. The tapping continued, rhythmically. I smiled.
The speeches began. Civil Service chief Francis Muthaura made his --for some reason he stuttered so much today. I think he is not used to reading speeches. He just speaks his mind. The many times I have met this guy,today in his "opening remarks" he was not himself.' He said what he said, then he invited Dalmas Otieno, the Public Service Minister.
My oh My, Dalmas is just another one. It's like he had "decided" that the corruption was enough. He looked up from his notes and shot straight, something in the line of "if you believe we are wasting time here, hand in your resignation."
I loved him because he spoke of government wastage (the board members of any parastatal rake in Sh20,000 as sitting allowance per meeting, then there is some Sh20,000 "for lunch" for ministry staff etc).
And then my favourite quote from this tall minister: "Where the herdsperson is himself the thief, only better strategies can help change that heart." Do you know a "thief" in the name of a "ministry boss?"
As Dalmas spoke, Raila pulled a bottle of Mineral Water, opened it and poured himself a glass. a full glass. Then he gulped it all down. It was just 9.30am, but this guy has a gym in his house and has a five-star breakfast in his house, so really, he could feel thirsty. Plus he was going to Narok, a hot place, I don't know what damage he has done over there. We'll know tomorrow.
Minutes later he rose to the "Republic of Kenya" podium.
He read his speech, a tough speech. I looked at the PS's, they were all quite. No murmurs even when he made crucial points.
Here is his verbatim speech. Sample it: They bought me lunch, a three-star one!

Hey guys, I am tired.It is 9.00pm and I think I have to bounce. Tomorrow is another day! I will continue with the story, but as Sizzla says, at least Raila read my post yesterday, for the thrust of his message was "Go clean up your heart and come, you cannot make corruption when that Rasta burn!" Will the PS's listen.
PS: Everybody was there, even Magoha the UoN vice chancellor, Prof Mibey from Moi, the Postal Corporation of Kenya boss Hussein Ali, Intelligence chief Michael Gichangi and who else, yeah, Alfred Mutua...more tomorrow!

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