Nicholas Kipyator Biwott got into the public limelight in 1979 after president Moi appointed him minister of state in the office of the president after that year’s general elections, there were two other ministers of state, GG Kariuki and James Gichuru. Before his plunge into politics, Biwott is said to have worked in the ministry of information, department of Kenya News agency and later in his political life, he could write his own press releases.
Between 1979 and 1983, nothing much was heard of Biwott as the era belonged to Njonjo, GG and Kibaki, they were the real power behind the throne. Even after the fall of Njonjo in 1983, Biwott did not show much ambition, it was instead Elijah Mwangale who started throwing his weight around by undermining Kibaki as a VP to the chagrin of central Kenya politicians.
Biwott gained prominence after the 1988 elections but for the wrong reasons. He was accused of demanding kickbacks from major government contracts. As the minister of energy he was accused of working in cahoots with the contractor to inflate the Turkwell dam project. But what made the man a household name was the 1990 murder of foreign minister Robert Ouko. While the two were in USA, together with president Moi, Biwott is said to have bullied Ouko by greeting him in the morning with ‘Good morning Mr. President’. Ouko had the previous day met president Bush privately, without informing Moi and the rest of the Kenya delegation. It was after Ouko’s murder that Biwott made the famous statement ‘I am a man, a total man, a total man can never run away from his country’
Even after multi party elections, Biwott was still powerful, it was only the dare devils like James Orengo and Paul Muite who could take him head on. Orengo was particularly fond of making fun of the man and once referred to him as the bull of Auckland and all Biwott could do was plead for speaker’s protection, how times had changed. As the 2002 neared and succession politics got heated, Orengo described Biwott as the heir apparent and Saitoti who was the VP heir presumptive. On hearing this, Caroline Mutoko on her morning radio show on kiss fm wondered whether a man less than 5.5 ft tall could really fit in the shoes of a president.
Biwott met his political waterloo in 2007 when the ODM wave swept him out of politics, he has been out in the cold since then. RIP Total man.