Day of drama
The silent divisions in the Jubilee Party on Tuesday reared an ugly head on the floor of Senate when the motion to oust Senate Majority leader and Majority whip were brought before the House.
It was a day when Senators allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta flexed their muscles and managed to get a win against Deputy President William Ruto whose allies occupy key leadership positions in the Senate.
After the 2013 elections, Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen seemed destined for greatness, thanks to his position in the ruling Jubilee party.From a Sunday school teacher in Embobut village, Murkomen would land the powerful position of Majority Leader in the Senate.Murkomen, who was kicked out of Jubilee leadership in the Senate yesterday, has been one of the fiercest critics of the handshake deal between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga in March 2018.
The senator, a key ally of Deputy President William Ruto, has been a key voice of Jubilee in the Senate. Mr Ruto has also openly opposed the deal between his boss and the opposition chief.However, Murkomen used his position in the House to deliver tirades directed at the President and which he claimed expressed the general feeling of Rift Valley residents ahead of 2022 elections.He has been close to the DP such that when he speaks is as good as Dr Ruto speaking. Murkomen’s loyalty to the DP was evident during the formation of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), which he vehemently opposed, just as Ruto did.He was among key Ruto allies who missed initial BBI meetings in Kisii and Kakamega terming them unnecessary but would attend the Mombasa one.
Tension had been building ahead of the Mombasa meeting, especially after Murkomen and other allies of the DP, announced they would attend. Then Murkomen did the unexpected; he expressed support for the BBI and said he was also supporting calls for a referendum.The father of four comes comes from the indigenous Sengwer community in Marakwet East.In his Embobut village where Murkomen, 41, is just known Kipchumba, locals still describe him as a Sunday school teacher and lawyer.His father, Johana Murkomen, was an evangelist with the African Inland Church in Chawis village, where the senator grew up. Murkomen started teaching Sunday School as the same church.Murkomen attended Chawis Primary School until 1993.
Mr Kilimo Ruto, Murkomen’s former schoolmate, said Murkomen decided to repeat Standard Eight because he was not satisfied with his KCPE marks.Mr Ruto describes Murkomen as a go-getter. He said they later met at St Patrick’s High School Iten. He said Murkomen had been admitted to St Joseph’s Kitale but he loved St Patrick’s. He later joined the school in Form Two.“He was naturally a bright student. He also loved football,” said Ruto. Mr Ruto said Murkomen would later become the choir master in the Christian Union.Another friend who did not wish to be named said: “Murkomen would have scored a straight ‘A’ were it not that he spent most of his time playing and watching football. He scored a B+ which was still a good grade.”He said Murkomen missed out of the top leadership of the CU because of his abrasiveness. “Elections were done through a popular vote. He was denied by an electoral college made up of teachers and outgoing officials.”Murkomen also tried to contest the position of house captain but was also denied, he said.“At some point, he was at loggerheads with CU officials who claimed he was spending a lot of time in football which was affecting his role as the choir master.”
The friend says Mr Ruto and Mr Murkomen later founded Rift Development Trust (RIDET), an NGO, alongside Nandi Governor Stephen Sang. Through it, they made political connections with Raila and top ODM politicians.“He became close friends with Raila and even helped in popularising the 2010 constitution. He became a key campaigner for the new constitution in Rift Valley where most people opposed it,” Ruto said.By then, the DP was Eldoret North MP and was in the team that was opposing the new constitution. Later, in 2012, Murkomen and Sang joined Ruto’s party – URP.Murkomen would contest the Elgeyo Marakwet senatorial seat and floored former powerful minister Nicholas Biwott. Sang clinched the Nandi senatorial seat.
Murkomen has not shied away from confronting anyone criticising the DP.