The Late Shariff Nassir was a close friend and confidant of retired President Daniel arap Moi who died in the early hours of Tuesday at Nairobi Hospital.
Nassir, who did not shy away from his enemies and always confronted them head-on, was always on the forefront in defending KANU and President Moi against his political detractors.
Nassir, a Mombasa KANU supremo who died in 2005, was the first politician who in 1978 declared that President Moi be elected unopposed following the death of the first President Jomo Kenyatta.
Mzee Moi was the vice President and took over the Presidency in an acting capacity after the demise of Mzee Kenyatta in August 22, 1978 as articulated in the constitution of Kenya.
“Nassir made this bold pronouncement when tension was high in the country,” said former Member of Parliament of Kisauni and Assistant Minister Said Hemed.
Hemed said while other politicians were cautious and not sure how things will unfold, Nassir took a big political risk and declared that Moi should be elected unopposed.
Nassir who came with the slogan “Wapende Wasipende” (like it or not) who was the longest KANU chairman for Mombasa branch served as a Member of Parliament for Mvita for 24 years, Assistant Minister and a Cabinet Minister.
His staunch support for KANU and retired President Moi made him a powerful politician in coast region and the country at large.
During his numerous trips to Mombasa and other parts of the coast region at the time, President Moi praised Nassir for his unwavering loyalty and exemplary leadership.
Through the late Nassir, President Moi conducted several funds raising (harambee) meetings in aid of various projects including schools and women and youth groups.
Nassir’s loyalty to the former President Moi was beyond measure and the late President took him as his point man in Mombasa and Coast region where he was known for his mobilisation skills.
During the advent of multi-party politics in 1992, Nassir stood by Moi and ensured coast region remained firmly in KANU where the then ruling party won majority of parliamentary and civic seats in the area.
“When several KANU politicians abandoned the party during the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) wave in 2002 general election, Nassir remained loyal to KANU which saw him losing his Mvita parliamentary seat,” said former Changamwe MP, Ramadhan Kajembe.
Kajembe who was among politicians who jumped ship said, “I told Nassir KANU is a sinking ship but he was adamant and said he can’t abandon the party and Moi at the time of need.”
When Nassir died in 2005, the late President Moi in his condolence message said Nassir was his friend and that he will be remembered for his great leadership and his astuteness in mobilising the masses for any cause he believed in.
Among key projects that were initiated by the late President Moi were the multi-million shilling modern New Nyali and Kilifi bridges which boosted tourism and investment in coast region.
By Mohamed Hassan