Oscar Sudi
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Oscar Sudi: President William Ruto’s ‘political engineer’ and his newfound power

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Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi is by no means an ordinary Kenyan politician. Since September 2022, when President William Ruto was confirmed winner of the presidential election, the third-term legislator has often featured in the list of the State House inner circle.

And the recent activities of the man who styles himself as a political “engineer”, with a packed diary that often involves inviting other leaders, have only added to public curiosity with lingering questions on his political ambitions.

A picture of Sudi disembarking from the same military plane as the President only reinforced perceptions that he has the Head of State’s ears. He would later defend himself, explaining that it was not an extraordinary undertaking as he was used to travelling in government choppers.

“I am used to these government helicopters,” he responded on X (formerly Twitter) with undated photos of himself in a Kenya Police chopper attached.

But his activities in recent months have attracted even more interest and raised eyebrows.  Just as the President in his early campaign days, Sudi seems to have embarked on fund-raisers, setting tongues wagging as to whether he was eyeing the Uasin Gishu gubernatorial seat, even though questions still linger about his academic papers. Others believe he is just exercising newly found power and money.

At a recent fundraiser was on March 17, where he helped raise funds at St Francis of Asisi Ngara Falls Catholic Church, Ngeria Ward, to aid its construction. he made a personal contribution of Sh3 million, and his friends and colleague politicians cumulatively brought in over Sh15 million.

A week earlier on March 10, he presided over another fund raiser to support the construction of AIC Fellowship Church - Annex, in the neighbouring Kesses Constituency. The fundraiser preceded a meeting with Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi at his farm in Kapseret as the government official headed for the official opening of the Eldoret ASK show on March 8.

“I visited Sudi’s farm where he has invested in dairy farming. I’m glad to see that farmers like Sudi are commercialising agriculture for income generation, and his farm is now an example to farmers on how to modernise agriculture,” the CS said at the MP’s farm.

The government, the CS noted, was encouraging Kenyans to farm as a way of generating income and creating employment, appearing to be issuing government policy at the private meeting. Political analyst Martin Oloo argues that “power does not reside in a person holding a top leadership position”.

Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi

Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

“Sudi and Farouk (Kibet) hold offices that nobody knows. But if you want to know who they are; check what Kariuki Chotara and Mulu Mutisya were to Moi,” says Oloo. He went on: “Sudi has said he is a political engineer, just to connect political wires and to that extent he is doing a commendable job since political wiring transmits political electrons whose effects can be witnessed.”

In January, Sudi shocked the nation when he led a group of youths in demolishing structures sitting on a 20-acre contentious piece of land in Kamagut, Uasin Gishu County, despite a court order. Paul Kirwa Samoei had watched in disbelief as his structures went down despite what he termed as a valid court order in his possession. Sudi was reportedly acting on orders from a higher office after a woman claimed she was the rightful owner of the parcel and needed help to evict Kirwa and others. Sudi, despite holding no official position in the security structure, has also been captured on video declaring war on bandits in the North Rift and asking them to either surrender their guns, or face the music.

He said those fuelling the violence and attacks were cartels whom the government would deal with. “Let them surrender those guns early enough. Matters of security are not communicated through persuasion. Murkomen (Kipchumba) and I, Sudi, plus other members of president Ruto’s team will not allow any other Kenyan to sleep out as their family suffers. This issue must come to an end,” he said. His recent warnings were to the National Cereals and Produce Board staff on corruption on corruption in the distribution of fertiliser.

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, who accompanied Sudi for a fundraiser in Kesses on March 10, described Sudi as a successful ‘engineer’, referring to the political moniker that has become a brand name of the third-term legislator. “When I named Sudi engineer I never knew he would do his work the way he is doing it quite well. I was almost withdrawing the certificate but I can no see he has become a real engineer,” Nyoro said.

At the fundraiser, Sudi made a personal donation of Sh3 million. Oloo, argues that Sudi is “comical with humble schooling but smart, crafty and swift. Those are skills you require from a sycophant who has the ability to help drive some of your personal agenda.” Sudi, sometimes last year, was captured in what appeared to be an inspection of a guard of honour mounted by police, even raising more questions than answers about the man.

The contrast, however, is that this is a man who barely speaks in Parliament and has a case in court for forging his academic papers. He often defends himself by saying his actions are loud and clear at the grassroots .

“He is both the Nicholas Biwott of former President Daniel Moi and Karanja Kibicho of Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration. He is both a powerful political engineer and a master of impunity,” Prof Gitile Naituli of Multi Media University says of Sudi.  He argues that Sudi is a State fixer, but adds that “any appropriate functioning government does not need fixers because the Cabinet and President is enough.”

“Interlocutors like Sudi only come in when government is not functioning,” the don disclosed. He added: “A government guided by accountability doesn’t require strong men, and if it gets to that we must be worried of Kenya as the president may end up not relying on constitutional offices for advice and be prone to relying on fixers who can mislead him.” For Herman Manyora, “people like Sudi are always used by senior politicians to do their dirty work or to strike deals”. “Often times they are used to test waters. It does appear to me like Sudi is such a person to President Ruto,” Manyora added. But so close has Mr Sudi been to president Ruto that even and has attended several local and international events together.

He recently lashed out at his critics who claim 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,” said Sudi, who is also facing charges of forging his academic papers.

Before Dr Ruto was elected and when his relationship with former President Kenyatta appeared beyond repair, he used to go on business trips with Sudi, including an aborted controversial trip to Uganda at the height of the 2022 election campaigns. When Dr Ruto was blocked from travelling to Uganda in August 2021, Sudi was in the delegation, which also had the likes of businessmen David Lagat, Turkish national Harun Aydin, David Muge, Simon Mogun and Nelson Kisalit.

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 Sudi, 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.”

The MP had also been embroiled in a fracas at Wilson Airport in Nairobi in the company of two foreigners who were linked to funding Dr Ruto’s campaigns – British businessman Michael Spencer and Lazaro Nyalandu, the former Tanzanian minister for natural resources and tourism. Recently, he lit up social media after posting his photos with Tanzanian Musician Diamond Platinumz.

“Courtesy visit to EAC and Tanzania Musician Diamond Platinumz; discussed areas of collaborating to explore Youth Talent search initiatives,” he posted on social media platforms, attracting numerous comments with some referring to him as a “real political engineer,” while others terming him as a “broker per excellence.” There have been hints that he could go for the Uasin Gishu governor’s seat in 2027, but like a lot of things about him, this too remains unclear at the moment. Text messages and calls to Sudi from the The Weekly Review over the last two weeks have gone unanswered.