Implicated in serious misdeeds, ranging from political assassinations to grand corruption, the once powerful Moi lieutenant has found new home at Amani Alliance 

Former Keiyo South MP Nicholas Kiprono Kipyator Biwott is famously known as Total Man, or Karnet (hard metal) in his mother tongue. Considering his dramatic political life, he is, indeed, a tough nut to crack.
Biwott, whom many of President Daniel arap Moi’s critics believe epitomised the excesses of the Kanu era, has managed to wade through the murky political waters to emerge intact.
Recently, Biwott emerged as one of the pillars in the Amani Alliance, which brings together Musalia Mudavadi’s United Democratic Front; New Ford Kenya, fronted by Eugene Wamalwa; and Kanu and Biwott’s New Vision Party.
The diminutive, soft spoken and wealthy but self-effacing power broker has proved that he has many lives, despite Kanu’s declined fortunes. He has managed to remain relevant politically and to keep those baying for his blood at bay.
In December 2008, when the tactful Biwott failed to wrestle the Kanu leadership from Uhuru Kenyatta, the Total Man quickly cobbled together his own political outfit, New Vision Party, which predictably endorsed him as its leader.
A peek into Biwott’s well documented life paints the picture of an intelligent, calculating politician who has managed to keep afloat by using his wit to sidestep many booby traps.
He has demonstrated an uncanny ability to exploit the grimmest of situations to squeeze some profit from it all, which adds to his vast wealth that he is alleged to have started amassing at the age of 29.
Biwott was born in 1940 in Chebior Village in Keiyo, to Maria Soti and Cheserem. His road to wealth and power started early under the tutelage of his father, who traded stock in Eldoret. He entered government service in 1965 as a junior civil servant when he was posted as the District Officer in Meru.
Later, he landed a position with the government’s resettlement programme, where he actively participated in the One Million Acres scheme, established to buy out settlers and settle landless Kenyans. But the outfit swiftly turned into a vehicle to quick riches for emerging black elite and civil servants.
Biwott wormed his way into the Kenyatta government and, in 1968—upon his return from Australia, where he earned a Master’s degree—he became Personal Assistant to then Agriculture minister Bruce Mackenzie.
His next big break came in 1972, when he was transferred to the Ministry of Home Affairs and began workwith his Vice-President, Daniel arap Moi. This marked the beginning of a relationship that would see him become a close confidante of the future president.
Biwott’s first stab at politics was a disaster: he flopped in the 1974 General Election and returned to the civil service to work with Moi as his under-Secretary. He had vied as a candidate for the Keiyo South Constituency, but was narrowly defeated. He made a comeback in 1979 to capture the Keiyo South parliamentary seat, which he retained for more than 20 years.
Moi rewarded him by appointing him to the powerful Office of the President, where he handled matters such as science and technology, Cabinet affairs, land settlement and immigration.
With his fame, however, came allegations that Biwott was using his office to solicit favours. Significantly, he was accused of demanding and receiving kickbacks.
When the Press started prying into the affairs of the secretive minister, he flexed his muscles and, through a spineless judiciary, received hefty sums through punitive court awards. In one clean sweep, in a judgment delivered on March 22, 2002, Biwott was awarded Sh20 million as compensation and exemplary damages by Justice Joyce Alouch.
In a civil suit of 1999 against George Mbuggus and Kalamka Limited, the publishers of The People, Biwott had sued after the paper alleged that he corruptly awarded Turkwell Gorge to a French contractor for kickbacks.
When the then Foreign Minister Robert Ouko was murdered in February 1990, Biwott rose to international infamy after he was named by Scotland Yard’s detective Superintendent John Troop in connection with the murder.
The country was treated to a rare spectacle after Biwott was arrested and detained by the police for two weeks in November 1991 over his alleged involvement in the assassination. Strangely, he was stripped of his ministerial powers, although he was never charged in court.
It also emerged that witnesses who appeared to have evidence over the murder of Ouko began to die in mysterious circumstances. Among the key personalities who fell by the wayside was the Forum For Restoration of Democracy (FORD) Vice-Chairman, Masinde Muliro, who died on August 14, 1992.
Muliro travelled to and from Britain with Biwott on the same plane. It was reported that Muliro was met by a former police officer, George Wajackoyah, who had claimed to have information over the Ouko killing.
Nehemiah Shikuku Obati, a Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police and an immediate former International Police (Interpol) chief in Kenya, spearheaded the arrest and interrogation of the Ouko murder chief suspects, among them Biwott.
After Biwott made a statement and was released, Obati was removed from CID headquarters and posted to the Rift Valley Provincial Criminal Investigation Office, in Nakuru. He died on August 8, 1992 from what was officially described as liver failure.
Others who died included Mohammed Aslamthe Chairman of Pan African Bank, Pan African Credit Finance Company and Corporate Insurance Limited, on November 18, 1991.
Next was Oidho Agalo, son of Zablon Agalo Obonyo, the administration police guard who was attached to the Koru home of Dr Ouko. Oidho was a worker at Dr Ouko’s farm. He was living with his father at the farm on February 12 and 13, 1990, and was a crucial witness.
Also to perish was Otieno Gor, one of the last persons to see Ouko alive; Martin Ochanda, a Kisumu Special Branch officer, who was the minister’s friend; Pius Omollo Ngwaye; and Joseph Otieno Yogo, Dr Ouko’s driver-cum-bodyguard.
Joseph Mbogo, a Superintendant of Police who participated in the Ouko investigation and later joined the Commission of Inquiry, died mysteriously and was quietly buried in 1993.
Paul Shikuku, the herdsboy who found Dr Ouko’s charred remains at the foot of Got Alila, also died, as did James Eric Onyango, a relative and confidant of the late minister.
At the same time, Justice Fidahussein Esmailji Abdullah, who was trying Jonah Anguka in connection with Ouko’s murder, died from an unknown ailment, only four days after delivering a scathing attack on the state of Judiciary where the guilty were never punished.
Hezekiah Nelson Oyugi Ogango, who was the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President in charge of Provincial Administration and Internal Security, was dismissed on October 28, 1991. He died in London on August 8, 1992, from a motor neuron disease.
Former Police Commissioner Philip Kilonzo would drop dead in his bar in Matuu, apparently after he was poisoned.
In the midst of the puzzling deaths, Biwott vigorously defended himself from any involvement. In 2003, he unsuccessfully attempted to compel Troon and The Scotland Yard to apologise to him for linking him to Dr Ouko’s death.
Earlier in  2000, a Nairobi court awarded Biwott record damages of Sh30 million after he won a case  in which he had sued British journalist, Chester Stern, and others for linking him to the Ouko murder in a book entitled Dr Iain West’s Casebook.
Biwott also bagged another Sh10 million from Bookpoint, a Nairobi bookshop stocking copies of the book.
At the commission of inquiry probing the Goldenberg scandal, which was headed by Justice Bosire, Biwott featured in the proceedings when his companies, Lima Limited, Trade Bank, Pan African Bank Limited and Liabilities of HZ & Co Ltd were mentioned as having received money.
Kanu may have failed to rule for a hundred years and Biwott may not be its member any more but, in some government quarters, he still calls the shots: one of his wives and a daughter still work in government—10 years after Moi relinquished power.