In Summary

  • The former Cabinet minister will be remembered as a powerful politician in Kenya who lived a mysterious life that nobody will probably never fully understand.

  • Nicholas Biwott was paranoid.

So powerful was Nicholas Biwott under President Daniel arap Moi's administration that even international banks were forced to follow his instructions, no matter how difficult they were to implement.

Biwott’s stature in the Moi era is perhaps only comparable to that of Moses Substone Budamba Mudavadi, the father of National Super Alliance co-principal Musalia Mudavadi, and that of Charles Mugane Njonjo, the most powerful Attorney-General Kenya has ever had.

The senior Mudavadi was so powerful that he once told this writer, to quote him in an article: “Leave us to rule this country with Moi”. He had a special relationship with the President, which people have never understood to date. In the 1980s, he was the only minister who could receive goodwill delegations at his Mululu home in Sabatia, just like the President did at various State Houses and in his Kabarak home.

HUGE AMOUNTS

Back to Biwott. He was known to order his bank to fly huge amounts of money – sometimes between Sh5 million and Sh10 million – to, say, Mombasa, Narok, Eldoret or Kisumu, in Sh50 or Sh100 notes.

That was hundreds of kilogrammes of currency notes that were delivered to and from planes in lorries to be distributed to supporters.

His mode of operation was to call the bank manager and give instructions on the amount of money he wanted, and how he wanted it and where he wanted it delivered.

One incident was when Moi was going to Nyanza for the burial of former Foreign Minister Robert Ouko. Biwott was at his best. On that occasion, he organised for the currency in dollars, pounds and Swiss Francs. Those privy to the arrangement did not know why Biwott wanted the money delivered to the venue. He would later be arrested over the Ouko murder, but was released.

THE COG

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