Just behind President William Ruto on Tuesday, Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi was in deep confab with a white man, signalling the role the third-term legislator will play in this administration.
Mr Sudi and Farouk Kibet will be the President’s blue-eyed boys wielding immense powers at State House.
The Kapseret MP has always fashioned himself as the leader who will not make any contribution in the National Assembly, but calls himself mkarabati (a deal broker), where a lot of money is involved.
Earlier this year, he told off his critics that he only speaks English when money is involved, and perhaps that is why he has always featured in Dr Ruto’s business meetings.
“I listen to people saying that Sudi didn't go to school, that Sudi can't communicate in English. I challenge them to bring business deals worth not less than Sh5 million, they will see me speak fluent English. You can't speak English yet there is no serious business unless you are mad,” he said.
Before Dr Ruto was elected and when his relationship with former President Uhuru Kenyatta appeared beyond repair, he used to go on business trips with Mr Sudi, including a controversial trip to Uganda last year that was cancelled.
When Dr Ruto was blocked from travelling to Uganda in August 2021, Mr Sudi was in the delegation, which also had the likes of businessmen David Lagat, Harun Aydin (Turkish), David Muge, Simon Mogun and Nelson Kisalit.
Mr Sudi later told the Nation that they had a three-item agenda in their private mission to Kampala that he said should not have raised eyebrows at State House, noting that it was purely business.
According to Mr Sudi, Mr Aydin was a private investor who was planning to assess fruit farms in Uganda. Both President Museveni and DP Ruto were to benefit from the farms, whose locations were not revealed.
“We were travelling to Uganda for almost three issues. The most important one was about farming and we were with fruit investors,” he told the Nation, without detailing what the investment was worth.
“This is a big farm, it is a large fruit farming of which the Ugandan government can take some shares, investors and us also. It is a business.”
In January this year, Mr Sudi was also embroiled in a fracas at Wilson Airport in Nairobi. He was with two foreigners who were linked to funding Dr Ruto’s campaigns – British businessman Michael Spencer and Mr Lazaro Nyalandu, the former Tanzanian minister for natural resources and tourism.
With Dr Ruto’s election, Mr Sudi’s influence has gone a notch higher.
Already some of those who lost in the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) primaries and were promised state jobs are crying that the outspoken legislator had not picked up their calls since September 5, when the Supreme Court upheld Dr Ruto’s victory.
This means that his political rating has increased and anyone who wants to meet President Ruto for whatever reason will have to pass through Mr Sudi.
To illustrate that Mr Sudi is now a powerful MP with the ear of President Ruto, on Tuesday, when Kenya Kwanza leaders were trooping to the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, for Dr Ruto’s swearing-in, the MP was in Karen, Nairobi, with the head of state.
The kind of power Mr Sudi now wields regarding backroom dealings did not start the other day. It was conspicuous in UDA nominations when he disclosed that he was the person behind the downfall of former Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter and his Mosop counterpart Vincent Tuwei.
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In Uasin Gishu, he also campaigned against Senator Jackson Mandago, pushing for the candidacy of Kipchumba Karori and arguing that a person who had been governor for two terms should retire from active politics.
Mr Sudi won Dr Ruto’s trust because he always defended the UDA leader, sometimes to great controversy.
If he is not on the wrong side of the law with his toxic tongue, he is in trouble with his academic credentials.
The lawmaker always spoke his mind whenever he felt Dr Ruto was being frustrated in politics.
Mr Sudi, who rose from a matatu tout to an influential and wealthy politician, has made friends and enemies in his political journal, occasionally landing him on the wrong side of the law.
To his constituents, Mr Sudi is a philanthropist who has empowered many, but to his political foes, he is a warmonger who spews ethnic hatred.
For the better part of the last decade, his popularity was confined to the southern part of Eldoret, where he once worked as a tout on a neighbour’s matatus before becoming a car salesman and land dealer.
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Mr Sudi came to the political limelight in 2002 when he campaigned for David Koros for the Eldoret South parliamentary seat against Jesse Mais. Mr Koros won, but Mr Sudi shifted his allegiance in 2007 to Peris Simam, accusing Mr Koros of abandoning those who played a key role in his election.
The legislator, a renowned political acrobat, declared his interest in the Kapseret seat after Eldoret South constituency was split into two – Kapseret and Kesses. He then established himself as the region's political kingpin and ardent defender of Dr Ruto.