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Saitoti and Ojode had just taken off from Wilson Airport to the latter’s Ndhiwa Constituency for a church fundraising event when a helicopter they were onboard rolled from the sky before hitting the ground.
A loud explosion was heard before the copter got engulfed by wild flames of fire. Eye witnesses said in a few minutes the helicopter had turned into smoldering rubble, sparking fears Saitoti and his team’s bodies might never be identifiable.
The incident, which has been confirmed by Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, comes against the backdrop of two plane accidents in Ghana and Nigeria which saw hudreds of lives cut short.
Sadly, the tragedy struck Kenya exactly four years after another chopper carrying legislators Lorna Laboso and Kipkalya Kones crashed in Narok.
The cause of the accident is yet to be established.
Kenyans have now taken to social networking sites Twitter and Facebook to express their grief and send condolences.
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SAITOTI?
Born on August 3 1945, Saitoti was a Kenyan politician, businessman and American and British-trained economist, mathematician and development policy thinker.
As academician, Saitoti served as Head of the mathematics department University of Nairobi, pioneered the founding of the African Mathematical Union (AMU) and served as its Vice President (1976-1979). Saitoti served as the Executive Chairman of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1990-91, and as president of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States in 1999-2000 at the crucial phase of re-negotiating the new development partnership agreement to replace the expired Lomè Convention between the ACP bloc and the European Union (EU).
His book, The Challenges of Economic and Institutional Reforms in Africa influenced practical policy directions on an array of areas during the turbulent 1980s and 1990s.
Saitoti joined politics as a nominated Member of Parliament and Minister for Finance in 1983, rising to become Kenya’s longest serving Vice-President, a proficient Minister for education, Internal Security and Provincial Administration and Foreign Affairs.
Few recognize him as a ‘reformist’, but his recommendations as the Chair of the KANU Review Committee popularly known as the “Saitoti Committee” in 1990-91 opened KANU to internal changes and set the stage for the repeal of Section 2A and Kenya’s return to pluralist democracy.
Saitoti left KANU and joined the opposition, becoming a kingpin figure in the negotiations that led to the “NARC Revolution” in 2002.
As Minister for Internal Security and Provincial Administration, Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs and key member of the National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC), Saitoti oversaw the launch of the war on the Al-Shabab terrorist militia as part of the African Union’s efforts to stabilize Somalia.
For decades, rival factions had invoked the infamous Goldenberg fraud to knock him out of politics, but the legal courts cleared him of the scandal in July 2006. Saitoti’s dual heritage as a Maasai with Kikuyu family members predisposed him to a pan-Kenyan vision, but also denied him a strong ethnic base unlike his competitors.
As one of Kenya’s most experienced, unassuming and shrewd politicians, Saitoti was billed as a front-runner in the race to succeed President Mwai Kibaki.