PRESIDENT Kibaki is an avid reader of newspapers and rarely misses the TV news contrary to the popular impression that he is aloof and out of touch. Kibaki's immediate former aide-de-camp Col Geoffrey Muturi King'ang'i resigned from the Kenya Defence Forces earlier this week to run for the Mbeere South Parliamentary seat. Mbeere South is currently known as Gachoka and is represented by presidential aspirant Mutava Musyimi.
President Kibaki wished him the "best of luck in his future endeavours" and replaced him with Lt. Col Peter Njiru. King'ang'i has given an exclusive interview to the Star after working as Kibaki's ADC for three years. The Star learned that the President has a mobile phone but is not as advanced as Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete who is fond of using his mobile phone to access Facebook.
"You will never find him texting or Facebooking. If he wants something, he communicates officially through aides. But he will use the mobile phone to talk to his family members occasionally. He can even ask for it and he directly dials or instruct that I call someone, then he picks the phone and speak to the person" said King'ang'i.
According to King'ang'i, Kibaki is furnished with a brief of what the newspapers contain every morning but prefers reading the papers himself. "He is an avid reader. He will see you with a document and says bring that one, I want to know what is happening.
He is so much interested in economic and development matters. He can even spend hours reading documents on key projects like the Lamu Port project saying he needs to understand how it will work out," said King'ang'i.
Kibaki also does not like missing any TV news bulletin. "I think there is a misconception of who the President is. In fact, even if a meeting is going on and it is time for news, he suspends the meeting to watch news. If there is something he sees and he does not like it, he follows the protocol to have it addressed. He believes in protocol. All the time he is way ahead of what is happening,' said King'ang'i.
"Sometimes in public meetings, someone addressing the crowd may say something wrong about the constitution and the President smiles because he knows that is not true and that man has not read it well," he added. He said Kibaki is calm and does not get flustered. "He is not worried at all of anything as far as I can recollect. He believes in doing the right things," said King'ang'i.
King'ang'i became ADC in May 2010 after his predecessor Josiah Mrashui left for the United States for a military course having served President Kibaki since 2003. An ADC is the main personal aide for the President. He accompanies him around the world and is required to always stand behind the President when he is addressing any gathering. He is also the custodian of the President's speech.
"Basically, this is a job of formality. I am Mr Formality, ensuring those coming to see the President are in the programme no matter who they are. You cannot get in if you are not in the programme. Even if the head of Civil Service says he wants to see the President in ten minutes, the programme must be retyped and printed. That is what the ADC uses to let the guests in," explained King'ang'i.
"During public meetings, the President can just decide to write notes on what members of public are saying. Sometimes his personal secretary or the Head of Public Service will also write the notes and pass them over to me. I then pass to the President to help him respond to issues raised," he said.
He downplayed an incident on TV a few months ago where the President appeared to have misplaced his notes. "This was just a case where one puts the notes in the pocket and when you need them, you don't know exactly which pocket you put them in. It can happen to anyone. This was not an official speech, just notes," he said.
King'ang'i said he resigned to go into politics because of the poor representation of his people and the opportunities presented by the new constitution. "My resignation surprised many people. Due to my exposure, I could see what is going wrong back in my home area but this is a job where you just see and remain mute," he said.
He said if elected, he will prioritise profitable farming, domestic water supply, irrigation, livestock use and education in the constituency. The full text of King'ang'i's interview will appear on Monday in the Star.