He may not have hogged prime television time, but Migori Senator Wilfred Machage was something of star during the burial of the daughter of Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno where no lesser a personage than President Uhuru Kenyatta was present.
Dr Machange’s speech has become the talking point in local gathering places and and on social media.
Dr Machage pulled a surprise when he told President Kenyatta to heed the advise of various leaders seeking his attention on national matters.
The President was in Rongo for the burial of Mr Otieno’s daughter when the senator shocked mourners by telling the Head of State that dialogue was a step of courage in governance and not an act of cowardice as his handlers wanted him to believe.
He urged Mr Kenyatta to respect Cord leader Raila Odinga if he expects respect from Kenyans and other world leaders.
“He is our leader, we love him and you must listen to him when he talks. The political temperatures will come down the day we see you talk to our captain on national issues. You must therefore accept dialogue.”
Dr Machage continued: “And you must know Kenya has 42 tribes who have a stake in this country. You must be fair in the manner you distribute public appointments and development resources.”
“You must always know that you’re a symbol and a pillar of national unity and you must live to that billing. Once we see you sit with Mr Odinga and other Cord leaders, you will earn our outmost respect.”
The Senator asked the President to call the Cord team and talk to them, “thereafter, pick the most important things you can implement and ignore issues you are uncomfortable with.”
“And during that meeting, give Mr Odinga water if he is uncomfortable with tea,” stressed Dr Machage amid laughter from the mourners.
The ODM politician said equal distribution of development funds across the country was a “right of Kenyans because they all pay taxes.”
Dr Machage told the President that dialogue was a step of courage in governance and not an act of cowardice as his handlers wanted him to believe.
“When baba (Mr Odinga) was abroad, the holy spirit descended on him and asked him to meet you for a national dialogue. Don’t refuse because you never the message he is bringing to you… remember we are in politics,” stated Dr Machage, triggering applause from the crowd.
Before he joined ODM in the run up to the last general elections, Dr Machage was the MP for the larger Kuria for two terms and was a fierce defender of the then President Kibaki having been elected on DP ticket which was part of Narc and later PNU.
He became senator through negotiated political settlement between the Luo and the Kuria communities in Migori County in talks spearheaded by ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Following the talks, former East African Legislative Assembly member Ochieng Mbeo and Prof Collete Suda, who is now one of the principal secretaries in the Jubilee administration, were forced to shelve their ambition.
Dr Machage was at one time Health assistant minister and briefly became East African Community minister before the formation of the grand coalition government.
During that funeral, other Nyanza leaders told President Kenyatta to embrace dialogue with other leaders, irrespective of political affiliations.
Six MPs led by Governors Okoth Obado (Migori), Dr Evans Kidero (Nairobi) and Jack Ranguma (Kisumu) said dialogue was the only way that problems affecting Kenya will be solved.
They said Kenyans must stand united in order to forge forward as one country and defeat international crimes such as terrorism.
The leaders demanded that the Head of State visits Nyanza and other opposition areas more frequently to equally distribute the national cake.
“In the Government of our late father Jomo Kenyatta, the Luo region had four ministers…we want our people to feel adequately represented in your Government,” said Dr Kidero.
Currently, only one cabinet secretary, Rachel Omamo of the Defence ministry, is from the Luo community.
“We pay taxes like the rest of Kenyans and therefore, no region should be marginalized by the national Government,” he said, triggering wild cheers from the mourners.
Dr Kidero, however, said Mr Kenyatta was his personal friend and he will continue to work together with him.
The Nairobi boss said although “ ODM house was leaking, we will strive to roof it properly because it is our hope for the future.”
Mr Obado said Kenyans must live in peace and harmony through “constant consultations between national and grassroot leaders.”
Mr Otieno said unity between Kikuyus and Kalenjins only will not save the country from tribal balkanisation.
“You must bring all the tribes on board because you are a president for everybody,” asserted the Rongo MP.
“Don’t fear dialogue…go out and meet everybody to get new ideas on how to improve the livelihood of Kenyans,” added Mr Otieno.
Other MPs present – Jared Kopiyo (Awendo), James Rege (Karachuonyo), Mathias Robi (Kuria West), Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East), Joseph Manje (Kajiado North) and Barre Shill (Fafi) told the Head of State to embrace dialogue and consultations at all times in a bid to know problems affecting the people.
Mr Rege was more categorical that Cord meant well in their quest for dialogue.
“Two or more heads are better than one, when a bomb blast occurs, it kills without knowing one’s political affiliations,” he said.
“We want to talk and help you to deliver on your promises, such as laptop to schools and don’t make us (Cord strongholds) feel like orphans,” added Mr Rege.
But when he rose to speak, Mr Kenyatta declared that he was ready to work with all leaders.
“I am always ready for dialogue but not on issues of IEBC and past elections. Those ones can be handled through parliament and other constitutional bodies,” he said.
The Head of State promised to serve all Kenyans equally and fairly without tribal biases.
“Let us not delve into the past but focus more on the future. Let us keep the political temperature down and allow my Government to deliver on its promises,” noted Mr Kenyatta.
He said he would reach out to Cord leaders for dialogue, arguing that “no person has a monopoly of knowledge and I am aware that there could be issues that require dialogue.”
“Everybody is welcome for talks at State House and there will be tea and even lunch,” he said amid laughter.
Dr Machage was practicising in Migori where he owns a private hospital before he joined politics.
“He spoke very well and presented our feelings to the Head of State very accurately,” said Mr Okello Owich, one of the mourners who attended the burial.