Wililam ruto is one of the wealthiest individuals in Kenya.His wealth spreads across several sectors, summing up to in excess of Ksh 30 billion.
Below is how the Kalenjin kingpin rose to become the richest man in Rift Valley.
He was a struggling 30 year old. Then somebody took him to State House one afternoon in 1997. When he went home in the evening, he had eight prime plots worth over Shs 50 million. He has never looked back and is today worth hundreds of millions.
For presidential candidate William Samoei Ruto, the big break in the world of big money and mega deals must have come on Wednesday, December 3, 1997.
This particular Wednesday must hold special significance to Ruto for it is the day he accomplished the hitherto impossible feat of getting himself allocated close to a dozen prime plots in Nairobi; all part of a single day’s work.
These plots were to become the financial launching pad for the ambitious but humbly-bred young man from Eldoret. Today, Ruto’s is a classic story of rags to riches. He may not be wealthy in the leagues of competitors such as Raila Odinga, Mwai Kibaki or Musalia Mudavadi but he is certainly not a poor man even when compared with the other lot of presidential candidates such as Kalonzo Musyoka, Najib Balala and Dr. Julia Ojiambo.
Ruto is a man whose wealth could be in the region of a hundred million plus, quite a Herculean feat for someone who started life with nothing but a burning ambition to succeed ‘no matter what at whatever the cost’.
There are two particular people who played the crucial determining role in showing the then inexperienced Ruto which side was up and which was down in the world of mega-deals – former President Daniel arap Moi and former cabinet minister Cyrus Jirongo. He has never looked back.
Jirongo’s role in the education of Ruto started when the two teamed up in 1992 to create the infamous Kanu youth lobby group YK ’92. Jirongo, as chairman of the then high-powered and on one of the few outfits that were willing to publicly stick their necks out for Moi’s re-election, had unlimited access to President Moi and enjoyed a place of honour at the high table.
Ruto, on the other hand, was a junior official in the outfit with little money and no high-level contacts of the kind Jirongo could marshal with a few phone calls.
But Ruto had something that Jirongo did not have. He had the patience, stealth, surreptitiousness and tenacity of a stalking leopard. Using Jirongo’s good rapport with President Moi, Ruto was bale to use the lobby group’s meetings with the president to worm his way to the head of state and to key state house operatives of the time, such as former presidential aide Joshua Kulei.
While Jirongo was fast, abrasive, impatient and raring to go, behind Ruto’s deceptively innocent looking exterior was a sly and shrewd operator whose calculating ways expressed itself in his curious, one could even say devious, sense of humour.
Ruto, for instance, chose rather interesting names for the companies he used to facilitate various land deals. Ruto’s main vehicle for land deals was Oseng Properties Limited. The name Oseng or osengeng is the Kalenjin for ‘these fools’. He had another firm that went by the name Orterter Enterprises Limited. Translated, orterter means ‘we must win’. Another of his operational firms went by the name Matiny Limited. In Kalenjin Matiny stands for ‘whatever the cost’.
These were some of the more creatively named companies that Ruto used to effectively climb the financial ladder.
Soon after the 1992 general elections, the fast paced Jirongo had, who like the fabled Daedalus and Icarus of Greek mythology had flown too close to the sun, had his wings melting. Ruto, together with a few other more calculating members of YK ’92, quickly distanced themselves from the falling Jirongo and besides helping twist the political knife stuck in Jirongo’s backside; Ruto and co. swiftly used the Jirongo crisis in Kanu to get even closer to the powers that be. By so doing they inched as near to the ultimate dispenser of public goodies – President Moi – as they could.
Significantly, today, Ruto hardly sees eye to eye with either of his mentors, Moi and Jirongo. In his determination to achieve an individual political identity and autonomy he has slowly sought new friends and considers politicians like the ODM supreme Raila Odinga, as more important to his political evolution.
Record plot allocations
It all started with the formation of a company that went by the name Oseng properties Limited early in 1997 where Ruto was listed as director and chairman of the company, with his business right hand man Paul K Chirchir acting as the company secretary.
Hardly had the registrar’s ink died on the company’s registration certificate than Oseng Properties Limited was in real business. The most active day for Oseng Properties was December 3rd 1997.
The day started with an application to president Moi by Oseng Properties fro allocation of a dozen or so prime commercial properties in the city’s plush suburbs and Ruto’s company’s given registration documents bearing the legend:
“Know all men by these presents that in consideration of the sum of shillings (relevant amount indicate) by way of stamp premium paid on or before the execution thereof, The president of the Republic of Kenya hereby grants unto Oseng Properties Limited all that piece of land situate in the City of Nairobi…..”
On that December day, Oseng Properties Limited and Orterter Enterprises were allocated at least eight plots whose total value was estimated to be in excess of Shs 50 million. Early the year that followed the companies were back in business. Two more plots were allocated on February 16 and another on two days later. On average Ruto’s companies paid the government between Shs 50,000 and Sh 280,000 for the plots as statutory dues.
The cash cow
It was these plots that he used a few days later to get millions of shillings from City Finance Bank Company and Ajay Shah’s collapsed trust Bank. Using some of these plots a s collateral, Ruto got some Kshs 50 million from City Finance bank on July 2nd 1998.
Then on November 24th 1998, he had another plot charged to the same fiannce company for Shs 7.5 million. The same property was later discharged and subsequently charged to Kenya Commercial bank for a loan of Shs 9.75 million.
It is certainly with the monies he got from these land dealings that Ruto was able to set himself in the world of business, and hence the world of the privileged.
Among his first business project was in the real estate initially with his erstwhile friend Cyrus Jirongo. Together they constructed a block of apartments in Ngong area sometimes in 1993 although Jirongo was the main financier for the project.
The value of the apartments, estimated to be worth at least Shs 50 million at the time, should have appreciated substantially by now and must be worth hundreds of millions. However, these apartments were later to lead to a bitter row between Ruto and Jirongo. It is not clear how the matter was ultimately settled but each party had accused the other of behaving dishonestly in the deal.
Years later Ruto would construct his own block of rental apartments along Jogoo road. The Jogoo Road apartments were estimated to be worth around Shs 50 million.
He was to diversify his line of business later and teaming up with some friends to set up an insurance company –AMACO- which did lucrative business during the last days of the Moi government. At the time Ruto had joined Moi’s inner core and had been elevated to a cabinet minister as he assisted Moi to promote project Uhuru where the former unsuccessfully tried t have Uhuru Kenyatta succeed him.
Not many others of Ruto’s businesses are in the public domain, but the aspiring ODM presidential candidate has obviously den well for himself. He has moved from a relatively poor man ten years ago to the multi-millionaire he is today with a palatial home in Karen, another equally opulent home in his rural Eldoret suburbs plus rent apartments, farms and other asserts.