Isaiya Kabira,Only man who weathered the storm-Lucy Kibaki and State House

Kabira’s rare feat at State House:When outgoing Presidential Press Service chief Isaiya Kabira handed over the unit to Manoah Esipisu last Friday, he had achieved a rare feat.

Of all the senior members of staff who came into office with President Kibaki, Mr Kabira was the only one who had weathered the storms in State House throughout the decade of the Kibaki administration.

In those 10 years, he witnessed many comings and goings but remained a constant fixture by the side of the nation’s third President.

Mr Kabira came to State House from the Kenya Television Network where he had built a reputation for himself for his efforts in steering the station at a time when the notion of independent television was still new in Kenya.

He took office in 2003 during a period when the nation was optimistic following the end of Kanu’s 40-year rule.

Yet Mr Kabira could hardly have foreseen the turbulence that would mark Mr Kibaki’s time in office, especially during the first term.

Numerous senior officials were brought to State House to serve the new president, but none lasted very long. Among the first to leave was Matere Keriri, a long-time ally of President Kibaki who was the first State House Comptroller.

Others who exited included adviser Stanley Murage, Mr Kibaki’s personal assistant Alfred Getonga and State House Comptroller Hyslop Ipu.

Contacted last week, Mr Kabira declined to be interviewed for this article, explaining that he was still in the process of handing over office.

But a colleague who worked closely with him said that Mr Kabira’s longevity in office could be attributed to his mild manner and a professional attitude that did not allow him to get into endless turf wars.

“He understood that he was not there (in State House) on a personal ego trip. He would try and change the things he could and would not hit the wall over those that he could not.”

The Kibaki State House was notable for its relaxed attitude towards the press and its relative indifference to public opinion.

The State House insider explained that Mr Kibaki was a “big picture person” who did not worry about what the newspapers were saying because he had a broad agenda which he would not change based on short-term public opinion.

The new team headed by Esipisu faces the challenge of balancing the needs of the media and a “digital” Jubilee government that has shown itself to be very image-conscious.

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