Political leaders across the Country have united in grief following the passing on of Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji.
Born on December 23, 1940, the former provincial administrator hails from the Abdalla subclan of the Ogaden and Borana communities.
Haji who chaired the taskforce that midwifed the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) earned a diploma from the University of Birmingham where he majored in Management and Finance Control.
His demise came after a very long time illness that saw him flown to Turkey for treatment and came back to the country where he died a week later at the Agha Khan hospital.
Haji is married and have nine children (one deceased). He is the father to the Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji.
Haji began his professional career in administration and management where he later joined the Provincial Administration of Kenya as a District Officer in 1960, and went on to serve as Provincial Commissioner between 1970 and 1997.
In 1998, Haji was nominated as a member of the Kenyan Parliament was later elected an official Member of Parliament on a Kenya African National Union (KANU) ticket.
From 1998 to 2001, Haji worked as an Assistant Minister in the Office of the President. He subsequently acted as the Office’s Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs in 2002.
On 8 January 2008, Haji was appointed Kenya’s Minister for Defence.
Leaders have sent messages of condolence led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition Chief Raila Odinga.
In his message of condolence, the President eulogized the veteran politician, who until his death was the co-chair of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Taskforce, as a dependable Kenyan leader and patriot.
“It is very unfortunate that we have lost such a dependable, solid and highly accomplished Kenyan leader.
“Mzee Haji was a highly respected leader and elder whose wisdom, deep knowledge of the Kenyan society and long experience as a public administrator enabled him to serve the country in various leadership roles with distinction for many years,” the President said.
The President said the death of Senator Haji was a big blow to the country especially in the BBI constitutional reform process where his leadership shall be dearly missed.
Raila in his message to the family, described Haji as a dedicated patriot and a humble servant of the people.
“Kenya has lost a dedicated patriot and a humble servant. We can only thank him for the years of his life that he gave in service of our country, his last great public passion being the Building Bridges Initiative,” said Raila.
Deputy President Dr William Ruto at the same time eulogized the late Senator as progressive, dependable and committed champion for a more united and inclusive Kenya.
“The country has lost a devoted and indefatigable administrator who was cause-driven. Senator Mohamed Yusuf Haji was a gifted politician, modest yet strategic schemer with ground-breaking mediation skills,” he said.
He went on: “We will fondly remember Honourable Haji as a leader who robustly upheld and reinforced the reputation and integrity of public service. Senator Mohamed Yusuf Haji was a gifted politician, modest yet strategic schemer with ground-breaking mediation skills,” He said.
Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka described Haji as a firm, hardworking, progressive and resourceful legislator, who served the people of Garissa County with unmatched commitment and dedication.
“Mzee Haji was a fiercely independent-minded senator, dependable elder and a voice of reason in the Senate. A no-nonsense administrator during his heyday, I was privileged to serve as a District Officer (D.O) when he was a Provincial Commissioner (P.C). His successful transition from public service to politics; inspired many people, including myself. We will miss his guidance and wise counsel as a House,” he said.
ANC Party Leader Musalia Mudavadi wasn’t left out either, “My condolences to the family of the late Senator Mohamed Yusuf Haji. The people of Garrissa and Kenya at large have lost a hardworking, humble and patriotic servant. May his soul rest in peace.”
Defence Cabinet Secretary Dr. Monica Juma condoled the family saying Haji was a patriot, an exemplary public servant and a father figure to her.
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi took time to remember years spent with Haji while working for KANU. “I fondly remember Sen. Haji’s great insight and wisdom displayed when we worked closely as top officials in the former ruling party, KANU. He was not just a great friend, but also a political mentor.”
He said Sen. Haji was a distinguished political leader, who served the nation with great dedication and commitment as a career civil servant, rising through the ranks from the provincial administration to the Cabinet, and later to serve as the respectable Senator of Garissa.
“A great peace advocate and negotiator, Mr. Haji leaves behind a great legacy as the the to-go man in times of political crisis. It is no wonder, he was recently entrusted with steering the constitutional reforms process under the Building Bridges Initiative,” He said.
Muturi lauded Haji’s efforts in spearheading peace-building efforts among Degodia and Garre communities living in Wajir and Mandera counties. “It this experience and competence in handling peace and security matters, that saw the Senate bestow on him the distinguished role of chairing the House Security Committee.”