President Uhuru Kenyatta, opposition leader Raila Odinga and retired presidents Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki on Saturday led Kenyans in mourning the death of Interior Cabinet Secretary Major-General (retired) Joseph Nkaissery.
Addressing the nation from State House, Nairobi, on Saturday morning, President Kenyatta said the country had lost a gallant officer “who has, for the most part of his life, served with total dedication and love for his country”.
He said the CS believed in the country, and in the principles and foundation on which Kenya was built.
“A man who dedicated most of his life to serving this great nation.
I personally have lost a friend, a colleague whom, as late as yesterday (Saturday), we spent part of the day praying together for peace for this country, with whom as late as 9.30pm last night, we were discussing issues pertaining and relating to peace, to unity in this country,” said President Kenyatta.
He went on: “I take this opportunity to offer my personal condolences to his family, his wife and children, in particular, to his friends, and to the Maasai community who have lost a great leader. I call on Kenyans across the political divide to mourn in peace and to uphold his singular mission of a peaceful united Kenya.”
Mr Odinga said the death was shocking: “All of us are struggling to understand this totally unexpected tragedy.
He was a political leader in a region that has produced many, and his loss will be widely felt.
I offer my deepest-felt condolences to his family and loved ones. The entire Nasa community also sends its condolences to the family.”
Mr Odinga said Gen Nkaissery saw the protection of Kenya as his duty in life.
“Despite his knowledge of battleground arsenals, it was the issue of elimination of small arms that was his foremost priority.
These are the principal source of violence that has periodically ravaged parts of our nation.
He attended every national, regional and international forum where elimination of small arms scourge was discussed,” said Mr Odinga.
He added that despite his many successes, there were areas of conflict in Kenya which eluded Gen Nkaissery’s skills.
“We in Nasa coalition sometimes disagreed with some of his policies. But he applied himself to all aspects of our security with a soldier’s commitment.
When duty called, he was there. He brought his expertise to the security docket after taking it over at a time the country was facing immense security challenges.
His passion for tackling security challenges came to the fore when he was appointed Assistant Minister for Defence in the Grand Coalition Government,” said Mr Odinga.
The Nasa candidate’s running mate Mr Kalonzo Musyoka also eulogised the late CS.
Former President Daniel arap Moi described Nkaissery as a man who served the country with exceptional energy and dedication.
“The cruel hand of death has robbed the country of one of its most illustrious sons,” he said, adding that he was praying to God to give Nkaissery’s family the necessary fortitude to bear the loss.
Mr Kibaki eulogised Nkaissery as a gallant leader who served the nation with exceptional energy, dedication and commitment.
“Nkaissery was an illustrious leader whose exceptional service to this nation should be emulated by all,” he said in a statement.
Deputy President William Ruto said the death had shocked the country.
“We have lost a patriot: an indefatigable and consummate professional who dedicated himself to the service of his country. Major- General Nkaissery led from the front, was a passionate public servant and played a crucial role in keeping us safe and securing our borders,” said Mr Ruto.
He went on: “At this time of mourning, let us keep his family, friends and the people of Kajiado in our prayers. May God give them the strength and fortitude to bear this great loss. Rest in peace,” said the Deputy President.
Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter said: “I have not only lost a colleague in the Cabinet but also a friend with whom we served together in the Ninth and 10th Parliaments.” Mr Keter said the CS was a man who said and did what he believed in.
Council of Governors chairman Josephat Nanok said: “We share in the great loss of a great, selfless and dedicated leader. May our prayers serve as comfort during this trying time.”
Narok Governor Samuel Tunai said the death had lowered the cloud of sorrow upon the whole nation, and was a deafening blow to the Maasai community.
“He was a personal friend and confidant, a man whose counsel guided me, “said Mr Tunai.
Cabinet Secretaries Amina Mohamed (Foreign Affairs) and James Macharia (Transport) said they enjoyed working with the minister.
“He was always available for consultation and made our Cabinet engagements such an enjoyable experience. We worked in perfect concert. I know we will all notice his absence and mourn this loss. We will also celebrate the years we were honoured to serve as his colleagues,” said Ms Mohamed.
Mr Macharia said: “We shall eternally be indebted to Gen Nkaissery for having supported us in achieving Category 1 status for our aviation sector by disposing of security challenges.”
Nasa co-principals Isaac Ruto and Moses Wetang’ula also mourned the CS.
“Nkaissery was a man with a good heart, he never carried grudges and made friends across the political divide with ease,” said Mr Wetang’ula.
Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi said he differed with Mr Nkaissery many times on political issues but he respected his opinion.
Former Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru said: “My thoughts and prayers are with his family. May his soul rest in peace.”
US Ambassador Robert Godec also paid tribute to the late Cabinet Secretary, describing him as a friend of America.
ODM chairman John Mbadi (Suba MP) said Mr Nkaissery “was a man of courage who easily spoke his mind even on controversial issues. He had a passion for his work.”
MPs Njogu Barua (Gichugu), Jamleck Kamau (Kigumo), David Ngugi (Kinangop), Nelson Gaichuhie (Subukia), Esther Nyambura (Ruiru), Mary Wambui (Othaya) and Mathenge Nderitu of Gilgil said they stood with Nkaissery’s family at this time of grief.