Friday, February 24, 2012



The Late John Stanley Njoroge Michuki

By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
February 22, 2012

John  Michuki, the MP for Kangema for close to 20 years died early this week after a short illness at the Aga Khan Heart and Cancer Center in Nairobi.

Until his death, he was the minister for Environment and Mineral Resources, having served as minister for Transport, Finance and Internal Security under the Kibaki government since 2003.

At the age of 80 when he passed on, John Stanley Njoroge Michuki had seen it all. He served the colonial government as a ruthless and focused District Officer during the Mau Mau war where his main assignment was to hunt down Mau Mau sympathizers and deal with them according to the colonial law.

On the eve of independence, he was one of the few Kenyans the colonial government gave a scholarship to join Worcester College in UK to study economics, finance and administration. He returned to Kenya when Kenya attained independence and joined Jomo Kenyatta’s administration but soon found his way  into the Treasury first as Executive Chairman of the Kenya Commercial Bank before moving to head the  Treasury and Permanent Secretary under Mwai Kibaki.

Michuki’s records at KCB and Treasury were clear and without blemish. The kind of corrupt deals that later dogged KCB and the Treasury in the Moi years were unheard of under Michuki’s watch. No wonder in those years, the economy was so strong that the Kenya shilling could be exchanged in London.

As a politician, Michuki changed the face of Muranga politics. The dominance of KANU sycophants singing Nyayo tunes day in day out began to subside. No wonder he lost his seat during the 1988 mlolongo elections. That was the election that also caused Kenneth Matiba to part ways with Moi.

John Stanley Njoroge could be accused of any political sin under the sun. But there was one thing the son of Kangema never did. He never dipped his fingers in to public coffers even when he had an opportunity to do so. It is the reason all the scandals that have rocked Kenya since 1992 to date involving high flying politicians have never touched John Michuki.

When fellow cabinet minister Amos Kimunya was forced to step aside following the 2008 parliamentary censorship over the sale of Grand Regency Hotel to Libyans, it was to Michuki that Kibaki turned to as an acting Finance Minister. Yet, when Kenyans suggested that he takes over the Treasury and let Kibaki appoint someone else in the Environment Ministry, Michuki declined the most coveted job in Kenya. He wasn’t interested. He had in amazement seen his colleagues’ careers ruined by that ministry in recent years.

Kenyans will most remember John Michuki in the way he dealt with public transport when he assumed that docket in 2003. Just under one year, Michuki brought sanity to the public transport sector- more so the dysfunctional and mannerless matatu industry. Suddenly, touts and drivers started wearing uniforms and name tags. Suddenly all matatus had a yellow line. Suddenly all matatus were assigned specific routes. But more importantly all public and private vehicles were forced to have passenger seat belts. However, he went a notch higher with matatus and buses. All of them were installed with speed governors.

As Minister for Internal Security, Kenyans will remember the good and the bad things John did. He decisively dealt with the Mungiki sect that had become the law unto itself. The group that had formed a parallel government, levying taxes on matatu operators and charging residential security and utility services met their match when Michuki assumed the Internal Security docket. Fear and havoc which was their stock in trade in Muranga and other parts of Mt. Kenya region had to stop.

Because these gangs killed and terrorized without mercy, Michuki chose to meet fire with fire. He ordered the police to hunt and shoot to death any gang member they found. Within two years, the Mungiki militias were on the run with hundreds locked up in Kenyan jails. The few that survived including their leaders turned to Jesus Christ for survival.

However, John Michuki’s life was not without controversies. The first time Kenyans read Michuki’s mind was when LDP and DP were arguing over the failed MoU that Kibaki had signed with Raila Odinga. When asked why all of a sudden the DP members were not interested in the post of Prime Minister they had campaigned for so hard under Moi, his reply was that politics was like a liver. “When you hold liver in your hand, you must keep juggling it lest it drops”.

When pressed to comment on the Standard Newspaper raid in 2006, all he could tell the same media was that, “if you rattle a snake, you must be prepared to be bitten”.

It was also under Michuki’s watch that known international criminals-the Artur brothers entered Kenya, terrorized us and went away without facing the law- a real contradiction in Michuki’s life.

His parting shot was to install Uhuru Kenyatta as the undisputed Kikuyu leader; warning other Kenyan politicians that only through Uhuru could they deal with Kikuyu community.

Rest in peace John Stanley Njoroge!