Loss of Rift Valley political pillar Nicholas Biwott

Former Cabinet Minister Nicholas Biwott daughter Esther Koimet(left), Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter (centre) and Kapseret MP, Oscar Sudi at Lee Funeral Home where the body of Nicholas Biwott was taken after his death on 11/7/17-BEVERLYNE MUSILI

Going by the nickname ‘karnet’ (iron/steel) for his firm stand on his ideals, both political and development, Nicholas Kipyator Kiprono Biwott remained in the limelight even after losing his Keiyo South parliamentary seat in 2007.

Affectionately referred to as the ‘Total Man’, the diminutive politician, who died on Tuesday, was a towering figure in Rift Valley politics and a strong supporter of former head of State Daniel Moi, who always stood by him.

His relationship with the former president started in the mid 1970s when he (Moi) was a vice president under founding President Jomo Kenyatta. This was before Mr Biwott was elected to the National Assembly in 1979 and thereafter represented Keiyo South for a record 28 years, uninterrupted.

Biwott, a shrewd politician and businessman, mentored many leaders in Rift Valley. He was also the leader of the National Vision Party, after ditching Kanu and losing his seat in the wake of a strong Orange Democratic Movement (ODM wave in 2007. Although he led a reserved and private life, the former Cabinet minister was active in public events in the region and would always be given a chance to speak. He often had a word of wise counsel, humour, and guidance to all cadres of society.

Despite his immense success in business and politics, having served in more than eight key ministries including Energy, Trade, State, East Africa and Regional Cooperation, Home Affairs, and Tourism, Biwott was never lead a publicly lavish life and was never seen using fuel guzzlers.

The former minister would land at the Eldoret Airport and board a Land Rover or take a ride in any of his supporters’ vehicle.

He will be remembered for his contribution to education. At one time he invited senior personalities to hold a series of fundraisings on the same day for needy students and development of schools in Keiyo South.

Biwott would coordinate the harambees using a helicopter, at the time out of the reach of many politicians.

He was a staunch supporter of Kanu and at one time, Moi asked residents of the Rift Valley region to listen to his advice when the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) wave started sweeping across the country prior to the 2002 General Election.

“Biwott supported me when I first joined the political race for Emgwen constituency in 2002. He was a shrewd politician who went on to assist me even after I had lost the seat,” said Elijah Lagat, the MP for Chesumei constituency in Nandi County.

He added: “In 2005, he contested for the Kanu chairmanship, a position that President Uhuru Kenyatta was also eyeing. I was in his campaign team among other leaders in the move that saw the emergence of Kanu ‘A’ under Uhuru and Kanu ‘B’ under Biwott”. Mr Lagat claims that the split was caused by political disputes.

With the emergence of ODM after the 2005 referendum, Biwott formed the national Vision party (NVP) in the run-up to the 2007 General Election and fielded candidates across the country.

“Biwott opened NVP offices that were well managed and listened to the grievances of citizens in all regions. He was a great Kenyan who was also generous and supportive, particularly to the youth and sporting activities,” said Lagat.

Abraham Kiptanui, a former Comptroller of State House in Moi’s regime, recalled his school days with Biwott in the 1950s.

“While serving in the government, Biwott was a servant of the people and contributed greatly in the development of the country when he started working under Moi when he was a vice president,” said Kiptanui.

Sally Kosgei, a former head of the civil service, described Biwott as a respected person who was smart and also had time to listen to people.

“We have lost a very smart person whom I enjoyed working with while I was in the civil service. I learnt a lot from him because he was very clever,” Dr Kosgei told The Standard yesterday. She described Biwott as a walking dictionary, a nice and generous person who was full of humour.

“He was a source of laughter for those around him and he will be greatly missed,” Kosgei added.

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