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Hon Sakaja Johnson:I am where I am because of Uhuru

Hon. Sakaja A. Johnson

Hon. Sakaja A. Johnson

Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: I am a 28-year-old husband to a beautiful wife and a father to two sons. I am a young Kenyan who believes in the centrality of politics in our society. I engage in politics since this is where decisions on Kenya’s future are made. I studied Actuarial Science and Political Economics. I am also a The National Alliance nominated Member of Parliament as well as the chairman of the party.

Q: Why did you join politics?

A: The solution to all problems, I have come to understand, is poor leadership or a leadership that is not in tune with the people. I wondered if politics is integral to Kenyans, why is it a retirement career for most Kenyans. I decided to join early in life and at campus, I was already in politics.

Q: It has been eight months since you joined Parliament. What are the lessons so far?

A: From outside Kenyans think politics is an obvious game, it is not. There is also the old style of doing politics, where Bills take far too long before they become law. As chairman of young MPs, we decided not to be partisan always. We focus on delivery and not self enrichment. Many young people in Parliament may not have found their voice. They are shocked and disoriented at the ways things are done. In our association, we want to increase the technical capacity and networking. We are 47 just three members shy of National Assembly’s quorum number. That shows united we can move this country.

Q: Despite all that, young parliamentarians are quiet. They are not heard in debates. Are they there to make up the numbers?

A: This is what precipitated our organisation that I now chair. The Young Kenya Parliamentarian Association. The old guys have mastered the art of caucusing and networking. They know the tactics. Young people in Parliament were disoriented by the reality of politics. Through KWPA, we are building the capacity. You also understand many have been subdued by coalition politics. In TNA, you do not need approval on when to speak on national issues. In other coalitions, it is difficult to express yourself. We do not want to disappoint our fellow young people outside Parliament.

Q: You have sponsored two Bills, tell us about them.

A: The first one is the amendment to the Public Procurement Oversight Authority Act. It gives legal backing to the 30 per cent youth, women and disabled people government policy on tenders. You know it was a decree but when the National Assembly passes the law, it will have a legal backing for years to come. The second one is the National Youth Unemployment Bill. It seeks to establish a national data base of all unemployed professionals.

You cannot deal with a problem unless you can have information about it. That way, a multinational in Kwale will know how many people from that county are qualified for the jobs they intend to give. I am also proposing a Performance Arts Fund. This will cater for dancers, musicians, acrobats and others in that category. Some may need equipment, training, logistics and with that fund, they are able to fend for themselves. It will be tailored along the CDF.

Q: There have been protracted divisions between Senate and National Assembly. What do you take of them?

A: Senate became united quite early in the term because they had a common enemy in the name of the National Assembly. The National Assembly looks divided because of the nature of its business. We deal with national issues that are divisive by themselves. Issues like budget process, vetting, among others. But of late, we are becoming more united like on the Ngilu issue and the Judicial Service Commission issue. We cannot also fail to appreciate that numbers contribute to cohesion or lack of it. In Senate, they are about 70 but in the National Assembly we are over 350 members.

Q: What names do we look out for in the next 25 years of young parliamentarians that will be at the helm of Kenya leadership?

A: That is a tricky question. But let’s see. Augostino Neto, Isaac Mwaura, David Ochieng, Alfred Keter, Senator Martha Wangari, Senator Stephen Sang, Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, Johnson Sakaja, Ken Obura, Ken Okoth and Zulekha Hassan.

Q: Leadership within TNA party has encountered rough waters in recent times. There was a clamour for your ouster, why is this?

A: We believe in internal democracy. There was a clamour for my ouster as the party chairman, but thanks be to God, God made me a smarter politician. The feeling by a few that the party should be led by individuals outside Parliament was overcome. TNA looks forward to outlasting the president, a party that will be there in 40 years to come. And during the next National Delegates Conference, I will ask for the chairman’s seat.

Q: You have seen it all. The high level politics, the dirty games and all. Should we expect a book soon?

A: Being friends with the president when one is barely 30 is a blessing. I feel older intellectually and emotionally than my actual age. Most people write books when they are at the end of their career. I have met a publisher and I intend to write a book on my life. In the book you will see a powerful surname is not important but hard work is. The book will trace my childhood to the intrigues of Kanu days, TNA formation and the Jubilee formation.

Q:What is your relationship with the president?

A: There are two levels. He is an elder brother and a father . We can sit and talk long hours without debating politics. He is a good story teller. He has a heart of gold. The other relationship is that he is my boss. A great inspiration, a no-nonsense results oriented man. I credit where I am to President Uhuru Kenyatta. There were skeptics on young people leading a party but he believed in me and my team.

Q: Summarise your life in one sentence.

A: Only in Kenya can it happen.

The People

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