How Museveni secretly used State House Nairobi as his command centre

Lee Njiru, a former presidential secretary reveals secret operations conducted at State House, Nairobi by regional presidents

President Yoweri Museveni speaking during a past visit to State House Nairobi

The late President Daniel Moi’s former press secretary Lee Njiru has revealed his boss’ hand in the establishment of Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni as a strong leader.

Njiru, in his memoirs titled President’s Pressman, said that Moi, helped Museveni lead guerilla movements against former rulers Milton Obote and Tito Okello.

He recalled his first interaction with the Ugandan president in the 1980s when he was just a rebel who had adopted the name Mzee Kassam.

President Moi told me to respect Museveni, whom he said was the future President of Uganda,” the former press secretary said.

Often times Moi’s support came in the form of political goodwill, finance as well as material resources.

When Museveni was leading a guerilla movement against the governments of Milton Obote and Tito Okello, my upstairs office in State House, Nairobi was many times his command post,” Njiru wrote in his book.

Museveni used to call Salim Saleh, one of the NRA's top commanders, from State House, Nairobi and give him instructions over the phone.

Whenever Museveni came to my office, I would ask him whether he needed tea. He would then remind me that he needed food,” the veteran journalist recalled.

Other regional leaders who were beneficiaries of Moi’s generosity included the late Joshua Nyongolo Nkomo, a Zimbabwean revolutionary, the late Clarence Makwetu a South African anti-apartheid activist, politician, and leader of the Pan Africanist Congress.

Close home, the second president was also fond of the late former South Sudan president John Garang de Mabior whose ambition to become President of the entire Sudan worried him.

At the behest of Moi, I used to create a makeshift studio in my office in State House where Garang would make a televised address to his people back in Sudan. The Presidential Press, which I headed, did the filming, with strict instructions not to divulge the venue,” Njiru revealed in his book.

The press secretary would use his car to ferry Garang around Nairobi undetected thanks to the curtains on his official Mercedes Benz.

He also recalled that one day, Moi confided his fear about the South Sudan leader saying “I have told Garang to aim at being the leader of only Southern Sudan but he is so ambitious that he wants to be the President of the entire Sudan. The Arabs in the North will destroy him.

Garang died in July 2005, after the Ugandan presidential Mi-172 helicopter he was flying in crashed.

He had been returning from a meeting in Rwakitura with long-time ally President Museveni

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