Once a powerful minister during President Daniel arap Moi’s era, former Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey says he will always remember him for contributing to his success.
In an interview with the Nation on Sunday, Mr Kosgey, a long-time member of Kenya’s oldest political party, Kanu, said he was appointed Transport minister at a young age.
“When I had just joined Parliament at the age of 32 as Tinderet MP, Mzee appointed me Minister of Transport and Communication due to the trust he had in me and the Nandi community,” he said.
He noted that following that appointment, he served 15 years as minister, under Moi and his successor Mwai Kibaki.
Mr Kosgey noted that while serving at the ministry, he was credited with setting up Kenya Airways, Kenya Railways and Kenya Ports Authority, and modernising the telecommunications sector.
The soft-spoken politician also reminisced about Moi’s advise, noting the President told him that Cabinet positions are for serving the people, not pursuing selfish interests.
“We will miss him because he always insisted on serving the people. I was able to employ many people because I was a very good student of Moi and very royal to the government,” he said.
Regarding his career in politics, Mr Kosgey said Moi advised him to get into the field in 1979.
“Without him I would not have ventured into active politics. I defeated Jean Marie Seroney,” he said.
Mr Kosgey also told of how Moi used state mercenaries such as the National Intelligence Service (NIS), provincial administrators and influential Kanu district leaders to ensure a united nation.
“Forthe 24 years he ruled Kenya, Moi made maximum use of provincial administrations. He personally call provincial commissioners, district commissioners, paramount chiefs, Kanu’s branch chairpersons, church leaders, MPs and Cabinet ministers to know what exactly was happening in every corner of the country,” he said.
“He had direct lines which he used to get this information,” he said, adding it was difficult to think of opposing Moi.
The former MP added that Moi called leaders such as Mark Too, Ezekiel Barngetuny, Mulwa Mutishia and Sharif Nashir at any time for briefings.
Mr Kosgey further said Moi directed them in 1980 to ensure peace prevailed.
The President never tolerated politicians who sought to divide the nation, he said, describing him as an icon of peace in Kenya and Africa.
Moi single-handedly established Nyayo wards in all the 41 districts and started Moi University and several polytechnics across Kenya.
Mr Kosgey noted that he introduced distribution of milk in all public schools to encourage students from poor families to keep reporting.
The former minister said they were thrown into confusion when Kanu lost power in 2002, wondering how they would survive after Moi’s exit.
He said they thought they would continue serving under the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) government, only to find themselves in the opposition, with the late Moi insisting that elected MPs had to keep Kibaki’s government on its toes.
“Moi had told us he was going to retire but some of us did not welcome the decision. That’s why we found ourselves being political orphans after Uhuru Kenyatta lost,” he said.
“After he handed power peacefully to Kibaki, we met at Kabarnet Gardens, where he told us to ensure the opposition became vibrant.”
He said that during the general election in 20220, Moi appointed him and Nicholas Biwott to steer the Kanu campaigns in the expansive Rift Valley.
“Biwott and I were tasked with leading Kanu in the Rift Valley. During his reign, Moi ensured the region spoke with one voice, unlike now when we are divided,” he said, adding the President ensured farmers made a killing.