By Prudence Minayo
Isaac Ruto is no newbie to politics having been in the game for over two decades. The Kenyan politician is a strong vocal man unafraid of voicing his opinions to anyone. In Rift Valley, he was nicknamed Atiech I? which is a kipsigis term meaning spoiler. Time and again he has clashed with so many leaders from former president Moi, Mwai Kibaki, Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. Sometimes it is so difficult to understand who he really supports or even predict his move, but that’s just the case with so many politicians.
Isaac Ruto was born in Cheptiret, Uasin Gishu county in 1967.
Not much is known about where he went for primary and secondary education although he attended the University of Nairobi (UoN) for a degree in Political Science.
During the late former president Moi’s reign, Isaac was still sharpening his politics skills in UoN.
While still at the University of Nairobi, he was arrested and detained for three months in the aftermath of the 1982 coup attempt.
In a past interview with Daily Nation, he was asked whether he supported the coup and this is what he had to say:
Not really. Neither was I his enthusiastic supporter. We were the student leadership that came after the radical Sonu had been proscribed. (Tito) Adungosi and I both came from poor families and we didn’t want to jeopardise our education by supporting subversive activities.
I was very close to Adungosi and I know he was not even aware there was going to be a coup attempt. He adored Moi and was the only student leader with President Moi’s portrait in his room.
Adungosi was the first chairman of the University of Nairobi students Organization (SONU) who was arrested in the coup aftermath and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. He died mysteriously while serving his term.
In 1997, Isaac joined the nation’s politics when he was elected Member of Parliament for Chepalungu constituency. He went on to serve as a minister in various dockets:
In 1998, he was appointed Assistant Minister to the Ministry of Education
In 1999, he was appointed assistant minister to the Ministry of Education
In 2001, he was appointed minister of Environment and Natural Resources. The same year while in Pretoria, South Africa with Moi and Biwott for a business meeting, he voiced his opinion on the then president’s decision to sack George Saitoti and Kalonzo Musyoka. Later, Biwott asked him whether he was KANU’s president and he answered him to go to hell. When it was time to depart South Africa, he was left stranded as the rest proceeded to Kenya.
In 2002, he won the Chepalungu Member of Parliament seat again.
In 2007, for the third time he vied for and won the Chepalungu Member of Parliament seat. The same year, he served as a member of the Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs Committee. In 2008, he was part of the committee on Constitution review.
In 2013, he contested for the Bomet gubernatorial seat and won becoming the first governor of Bomet county. The same year he was appointed the first chairman of the Council of Governors by consensus and vowed to fight for devolution. During his tenure as governor, he clashed with his party leaders on several occasions.
He contested for the same Bomet gubernatorial seat in 2017 and lost to the late Joyce Laboso. The former Bomet governor left Jubilee to join the NASA Coalition headed by former prime minister Raila Odinga shortly before the 2017 general elections. However, within a short time, he again declared his support for President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Mr. Ruto is also known to be the champion of “pesa Mashinani” slogan which gave birth to his party “Chama Cha Mashinani”. Pesa Mashinani sought to ensure disbursement of more funds to counties.
Joining Jubilee On A Post Election Deal
Having stayed in the cold since 2017, Ruto got a political lifeline his CCM party and the Jubilee party entered into a post election coalition. The CCM party leader insisted that his party will not fold and also denied reports that President Uhuru Kenyatta was offering him a cabinet position. The Head of State and his deputy William Ruto relationship as it best frosty prompting Uhuru to look for new allies.
Asked by Nation’s VITALIS KIMUTAI if the party was folding he responded:
CCM is not folding. That is not in the cards now or in the future. We are joining Jubilee as an independent partner.
We would not be party to a situation where we are taking the country to a single-party state. That would be retrogressive and an affront to democracy.
Political parties are formed to participate in governance, promote peace, patriotism and uphold our cultural heritage in a democracy.
Isaac Ruto’s Father
The ex-Bomet governor hardline stances that have some label him as a principled politician while others find him to be rebellious must have been inherited from his father-Mr Paul Tirop. Just like his son, Mr Tirop stood for what he believed in. In the 1950s, the old man, then a Christian leader in the South Rift region, was detained for nine years for resisting conscription into forced labour.
The UoN graduate is married and has children. His eldest child Emmy Chepng’etich passed on 24th October 2014 at the Agha Khan hospital after a short battle with cancer. She was working with the Geothermal Development Company as an electrical engineer and was the captain of the Kenya women’s cricket team.
Isaac has never stated his net worth but various sources put his wealth at kes3 billion, figures this writer cannot independently verify. The politician reportedly owns 40 earthmovers whose estimate is at kes400million and a chopper valued at kes300million. He is said to operate a number of petrol stations and also owns a hotel in Bomet. The former MP has been in politics for a long time and has obviously amassed a lot of wealth. He owns a bid dairy farm believed to be worth over 60 million Kenyan shillings among other investments.