Breaking TV made me personal assistant to the late Nicholas Biwott: MP William Chepkut
First time Ainabkoi MP, William Chepkut opens up to The Nairobian about politics and being PA to reclusive power man, the late, Nicholas Biwott.
How did you meet Kanu era powerful minister, Nicholas Biwott?
While a student at Kenya Polytechnic in 1991, I approached Biwott, then the Energy minister, to help me clear my fees because I believed he would help me complete my education. He did, in full, a week later.
And how did you end up as his personal assistant?
When I went to seek for financial assistance, he told me to wait because he was travelling out of the country. But he didn’t say when he would be back, only that I should wait for him at DT Dobie along Koinange Street, Nairobi. Without any telephone, there was no way I could reach him so I religiously visited the shop every morning till evening for a week.
Good Lord! Every day for a week? Without a coin for lunch?
Strangely, Ezekiel Komen, who was then Kenya Pipeline Company Managing Director, would show up at DT Dobie and give me some cash for lunch. I later discovered that Biwott had called and instructed him to be checking up on me every day until he arrives. The man was monitoring my patience from Europe! I was shocked when, after a week, he showed up. He found me sitting at the reception bench of DT Dobie and cleared my fees.
Is it true you broke a TV set at Kenya Polytechnic upon receiving the news of Biwott incarceration following the dead of Robert Ouko?
During the 7pm bulletin, they announced Biwott had been arrested over Ouko’s death. I was infuriated and crushed the TV set. I was arrested by police for damaging college property and was shocked when Biwott secured my release less than an hour after being booked in. I don’t know how he received the information that I had damaged the TV set. I think this incident and my week long wait had proved my absolute loyalty to him; a loyalty that would later cement our relationship.
How did it go from there?
Biwott sponsored my public administration degree studies in India, and upon graduation, I secured a job as a district officer. I briefly served in this position in the mid-1990s before he appointed me his PA. But even before he made me his PA, he had told that me I was a loyal young man and occasionally, he engaged me to run several errands for him.
You met President Daniel arap Moi , of course…
While serving as Biwott’s PA, I got connected to President Moi, who would also send me to run errands for him. The old man often entrusted me with cheques ranging from Sh5 million to Sh20 million for payment of land rates, rentals, electricity bills, among others. Like Biwott, he trusted me. Those two leaders mentored me. Their deaths devastated me. I miss them.
There is a rumour that you have always had a mulika mwizi (analogue mobile phone). Is it true?
Hahaha! Correct! It is a habit I picked from Biwott. The man never owned a mobile phone up to the time he died. But he had committed countless phone numbers to memory and would randomly borrow a phone from even strangers and call anyone he wanted.
Do you have a smart phone these days?
Oh yes! The Covid-19 pandemic forced me to acquire my maiden smartphone to cope up with the new normal where digital meetings have now become part of our daily lives. Nonetheless, I can remember 10,000 phone contacts which include that of the President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto, Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, ODM leader Raila Odinga and almost all legislators and my constituents off head. It as a skill I learnt from Biwott.
Social media is awash with your comical antics. Isn’t that odd for a political leader?
What I just want to demystify is this belief that when one has been elected to a public office, they should cut social links with locals. Leaders are not demigods but servants of the people and human beings at the end of the day. Social class is transient and one day, we shall retire to the villages and be with the locals who we despise while in power. That’s why I hang out with my people.
You don’t think you joke too much?
During all the social gatherings, I attend, I lose myself and enjoy the day with the congregation. For some reason, this really angers my critics. But I am no joker and any political opponent who dismisses, underrates or regard me as a clown does so at their own risk.
You are always photographed in prayer kneeling down with outstretched arms at public functions. Why?
There is nothing to it other than a personal conviction to always kneel down during prayer. It is a sign of total humility and supplication to The Almighty God. I am just a harmless soul and my critics should give me a break.
They say you were photographed in a woman’s T-shirt. What was the story?
My critics will never rest! Anything I do or say always generates rumours so I was I not surprised when the T-shirt issue came up. But look, the shirt was unisex. I even promised to buy one for all my women constituents as way of appreciating them. What my critics don’t understand is that I own hundreds of designer three-piece suits that are my signature outfit complete with matching ties.
Are you about to stop these antics any time soon?
Personally, I am stress free and hate nobody because my heart is as white as the snow of Russia. I am not God, so I am imperfect just as any other human being. Many people do not know or understand me. But in the real sense, I am a serious family man and a consummate politician and businessman. My critics should know that I am not about to stop dancing or being free with my people. I am not seeking cheap publicity by doing so.
Where will you be in the next five years?
I will defend my MP seat in the next general election and hopefully, continue serving the great people of Ainabkoi. I intend to be the Chepkut my people knew before they elected me to be an MP.