Profiles

Former MP who left Moi cabinet without scandal

kiptoon

Former Baringo North MP Kiptoon Andrew. Politicians have eulogised him as a man who was principled and never shied from speaking truth to power at a time when it was risky to do so. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Despite coming from President Daniel Moi’s backyard, Andrew Chepkoiywa Kiptoon was not known to be a bootlicking enabler.
  • In fact, his persistent criticism of the ruling party and the audacity to speak his mind, got him sacked from the Cabinet.
  • The former MP, who died this week, was fired in June 2002 for criticising that year’s budget for failing to give incentives to farmers.

Despite coming from President Daniel Moi’s backyard, Andrew Chepkoiywa Kiptoon was not known to be a bootlicking enabler.

In fact, his persistent criticism of the ruling party and the audacity to speak his mind, got him sacked from the Cabinet. The former MP, who died this week, was fired in June 2002 for criticising that year’s budget for failing to give incentives to farmers.

At Cabinet meetings, it is reported that Mr Kiptoon persistently refused to bend to the whims of powerful men in Moi’s inner circle. It is alleged that he also demanded for prudent management of Kenya’s economy and independence for ministers to discharge their mandate.

This was unheard of as Mr Kiptoon- an engineer by profession- came from President Moi’s Baringo district. Then, the expansive county had Baringo and Koibatek districts. His position was promptly filled by William Morogo from Mogotio.

The former Baringo North MP was termed by MPs in the 8th Parliament as bold given that he even challenged President Moi to declare whether he was retiring after 2002 because of the uncertainty in the economy.

The MP, argued that the prevailing atmosphere was discouraging local and foreign investments, sentiments that earned him accolades from opposition MPs.

As a minister also, Mr Kiptoon defended Mwai Kibaki from Kanu ‘hawks’ who had launched a scathing attack on the opposition leader saying the tirades would not cure the problems bedeviling the nation, especially the poor economy.

Bold and tolerant

During the talks for change of the Constitution, Mr Kiptoon as Public Works Minister pleaded for tolerance.

In a speech to MPs during the Budget debate, he said: "There is no advantage in us attacking one group to gain political mileage" - and cited the faiths-led Ufungamano Constitution reform group as one example, saying it was doing its best and should be allowed to continue without unnecessary criticism so a consensus could emerge.

His boldness was perhaps the beginning of his problems because his attempts later to recapture the parliamentary seat were not successful, yet he had tried so many times until he won in 1997.

After his sacking from Cabinet, opposition MPs described him as a moderate, rational and most likeable member of the Moi Cabinet. “He was the example we used to illustrate that there are good people among the Kalenjins around President Moi,” Kimilili MP Mukhisa Kituyi said.

He exited with his head held high as he among ministers who left Cabinet without any scandal. His only regret from the sacking was that it came before he fixed roads in his constituency.

He retreated to a quiet life after losing the 2002 elections until Raila Odinga, then Minister for Roads and Public Works, picked him to head a taskforce on pending bills lodged by contractors in 2003.

Mr Kiptoon did a superb job unearthing tens of contractors- later termed by Raila as “cowboy contractors”that earned millions of shillings for no work or poorly done job.

The task force recommended that nearly a dozen construction companies be blacklisted and Sh3 billion be recovered from nine of them.

Mr Kiptoon, who served in several ministries including Roads and Public Works, Trade and Industry and Cooperatives as well as assistant minister for Education had made several attempts for the Baringo North seat.

generous man

He first tried the MP seat in 1988 but lost to Mr Willy Kamuren in the infamous queue-voting (mlolongo) stage. He tried his luck again in the 1992 polls but was barred. He was later appointed chairman of the Kenya Dairy Board and his success came in the next General Election in 1997 when he beat both Kamuren and Mr Eric Bett in the Kanu nominations, eventually marching into Parliament unopposed.

He was named an assistant minister in the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development in the new Cabinet line-up announced on January 8, 1998. A year later, he was elevated to the Cabinet in charge of Research and Technology. He served in the capacity until September, when he was switched to Public Works, taking over from Mr Katana Ngala.

Close friends knew Mr Kiptoon as a generous man as various students from his constituency depended on him for school fees.

Mr Kiptoon comes from Baringo’s best educated and wealthiest families. He went to prestigious Alliance High school before joining the University of Nairobi. His elder brother Japheth was a PS for Education and later appointed VC Egerton university.

The former MP would be laid to rest at his Kaptere village in Baringo North on Monday.