That the late President Magufuli and ODM leader Raila Odinga were close buddies is not in question. The ODM leader describes the death of the Tanzanian leader as a huge loss. To him, Magufuli was a very close friend and a comrade. In a glowing tribute on Sunday, the former premier detailed his friendship with the demised president, revealing for the first time, John Magufuli named a road in Mwanza after him (Raila Odinga Road) after their first meeting in 2003, in Durban.
”I first met Dr Magufuli at an international conference on infrastructure in Durban, South Africa some time in 2003. I had just assumed office as Minister for Roads, Public Works and Housing in the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) government of President Mwai Kibaki. By that time, Dr Magufuli had held a similar portfolio for some time in Tanzania,” the ODM leader writes.
It was from here that their friendship would blossom, and extend to their families to date. When Magufuli, as a minister in President Jakaya Kikwete’s government attended the funeral of Fidel Odinga, Raila’s eldest son in 2015, many Kenyans did not know how strong the bond between the two was.
”Dr Magufuli invited me to accompany him on a tour of Mwanza where he was to supervise and launch construction of hospitals and roads. It was during this trip that he named a road after me; Raila Odinga Road in Mwanza. During this trip, we visited his home in Chato. I also invited him to visit us in Kisumu and Bondo.
”As we got down to work here in Kenya, we identified the Meru-Maua Highway as one of the key roads that needed immediate and massive renovation. I invited Dr Magufuli to launch the reconstruction of this road, which he did. I also instructed the ministry to name the road after him,” the ODM leader wrote.
President Magufuli passed on March 17th while receiving treatment in Dar es Salaam. He will be laid to rest on Thursday, March 25th at his Chato home in Geita.