This proves true for former Attorney General Githu Muigai whose resignation many didn’t see coming.
In a candid interview with prolific writer Jackson Biko in December 2019, Muigai opened up about life after exiting government for academia, as a professor of law at the University of Nairobi.
Former Attorney General Githu Muigai poses for a photo at the Supreme Court on November 20, 2017
He gave insights on the workings of the cogs of power that run the country, albeit too slowly.
He described the government as “an aircraft carrier. It takes a long time to turn and you must have the patience to wait for it.”
Working in the government has a way of changing the best of men, and Muigai was no different.
He holds the view that there are good men in politics but no gentlemen.
“I wasn’t a gentleman because I acted in what I thought was the best interests of the Republic of Kenya and probably the best interest of my career. So, I couldn’t have been a gentleman but I tried to be a good man and a professional man,” he told Jackson Biko.
“I didn’t know that there would be grave, life and death decisions and that they were my call. I can tell you it is very hard when that happens for you to have a good night’s sleep forever,” he further opened up.
Now ageing, without a convoy of government vehicles and aides running at his every beck and call, he describes his current life as a bumper harvest after years of pursuing his passion, law.
“I’m harvesting. By which I mean I have invested in education and time, now I feel like I have reached where I am able to rely on that experience to enjoy professional work at its highest. I feel that I am now able to give an opinion and be listened to,” he explained.
As the saying goes, money cannot buy happiness and the same is shared by the learned professor of law.
He didn’t deny that the job brought with it certain monetary benefits but he was content with the little he got, little compared to how other government insiders use their positions to accumulate immense wealth.
President Uhuru Kenyatta with former Attorney General Githu Muigai after he handed in his resignation letter to the at State House, Nairobi in 2018
“I was very well paid for a lawyer of my seniority. I enjoyed the perks of office, getting grants and so on, but I would not say that I became a man of means.
“I continued to file my assets and liabilities forms. Public service would not be a place where you enrich unless you’re really trading with the government and that can only take a few months before it becomes public knowledge that you are the one supplying cement or what or what,” he stated.
According to Githu, money is subject to the law of diminishing returns. For him, it eventually gets to a critical tipping point where no extra shilling can improve the quality of life.
“You won’t change where you live, you won’t change the bed you sleep on you, won’t change your TV, you won’t change your phone,” he noted.
When asked what he would apologise for given the chance he responded, “Maybe it would be the first generation of students that I taught. Because while holding myself out as a teacher of the law, I didn’t know enough myself. I should apologise for not having been able to teach them more, better and deeper.”