The controversial subject of just how much Deputy President William Ruto is worth took centre stage yesterday after Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i laid bare a list of properties he said are owned by the country's second-in-command.
In a heated session with MPs that almost turned into a lifestyle audit on the DP, Dr Matiang'i mentioned 10 properties that he said are under round-the-clock state security, courtesy of their owner being Kenya's Number Two.
The list -- which includes hotels, large tracts of land, farms, a gas company and private homes -- has opened a can of worms whose lid Dr Ruto had tightly kept shut. He has been uncomfortable talking about his wealth since he assumed office in 2013.
While it is not immediately possible to put a figure on just how much the DP is worth, the list provided yesterday to the National Administration and Security Committee comfortably placed the self-proclaimed 'Hustler' in the league of shilling billionaires.
In short, Dr Matiang'i said the DP has business interests in chicken farming, hospitality, oil and gas, plus aviation.
Dr Ruto has consistently said that he started life as a chicken seller at Kambi Kuku market on the Eldoret-Malaba highway.
The leader of the 'Hustler Nation', as the DP refers to himself, has 18,520 acres of land in three counties, five helicopters, two hangars, two hotels with a total accommodation capacity of 219 beds, three private residences, a gas company and a poultry farm, where chickens are under round-the-clock state security.
Cumulatively, the Interior CS said the Deputy President has 257 officers from different state security agencies assigned to him (see graphic). Out of these, 51 guard his private properties and business interests.
"There are police officers because of the fact that the Deputy President may go there or may have interest or may spend time there," said Dr Matiang'i.
"We have those who are stationed and those, through the local police command ... make sure that if that is a farm that is owned by the DP and his animals or property is there, you keep an eye on that," said the CS.
Ruto's net worth
Although the Interior CS, in his presentation, was explaining how security officers are deployed around the DP and his properties, he opened a closet in the process whose skeletons have remained hidden for years.
The question of how wealthy Dr Ruto is has been asked in almost every interview he has attended without yielding any answers about his net worth.
"Why is this issue of wealth a big issue when you have William Ruto? You never ask anybody else," the DP told NTV when asked this question last year.
As part of his land holdings, Dr Ruto owns 976 acres at Murumbi farm in Trans Mara, 15,000 acres at Mutara farm in Laikipia and 2,536 acres at Mata Farm in Taita Taveta. He also operates the 102-bed Dolphin Hotel in Shanzu, Mombasa, and the 117-bed Weston Hotel on Lang'ata road in Nairobi.
Additionally, the DP owns Kitengela Gas, three residences in Karen, Nairobi, and Elgon View and Kosachei in Eldoret, plus a poultry farm in Koitalel, Uasin Gishu County. The DP also owns five choppers through Kwae Island Development Ltd, which operates as KIDL Helicopters from its two hangars at Wilson Airport.
In a quick rebuttal, the Deputy President last evening termed the list inaccurate, saying he does not own most of the properties listed by Dr Matiang'i. He, however, failed to confirm which of the listed properties belong to him.
"The Cabinet secretary desecrated the hallowed precincts of Parliament, exploiting it as a forum to propagate malicious falsehoods and assaulted the dignity of that institution by recklessly publishing inaccurate data purporting to be the property interests and security deployments to the Deputy President," said the DP through his communication secretary, Mr David Mugonyi.
"In fact most of the property listed do not belong to the Deputy President," said the statement.
In an attempt to get an inkling on out how much the DP is worth, the Nation did a search on the registration numbers of choppers owned by KIDL.
Among KIDL's choppers is 5Y KDM, which is an Airbus H145 T2 with a purchase price of Sh970 million; 5Y DSC (Eurocopter 130 T2, Sh740 million); 5Y KDN (Airbus H130, Sh330 million); 5Y DSN (Airbus H125, Sh290 million); and 5Y SAK (Airbus H125, Sh290 million).
Sh2.6 billion choppers
KIDL also used to own a Bell 505X helicopter with a tail number 5Y KDL. The chopper, whose purchase price from the manufacturer Bell Textron in Texas, United States is about Sh120 million, crashed in Turkana in March last year.
From the purchase price of his five helicopters, the DP's choppers are worth Sh2.6 billion. KIDL also owns a hangar at Wilson Airport where its helicopters are parked and serviced. The location of the hangar caused a controversy in 2018.
Other operators said it was too close to the runway and that it was being given preferential treatment since it has its own gate when everyone else was accessing the airport from the main gate.
The Murumbi farm in Trans Mara has also had its fair share of controversy after it emerged that the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) had undervalued it before selling it to the Deputy President in 2015.
The DP owns the land LR No Transmara/Intona/34 through North Mogor Holdings Ltd.
The property used to belong to former Vice President Joseph Murumbi. AFC sold it to North Mogor Holdings for Sh63.4 million in 2015, just two years after the Jubilee administration came into office.
The Nation conducted a search on North Mogor Holdings Ltd, but could not find its records at the Registrar of Companies yesterday. However, in papers previously filed in court about the controversial property, North Mogor said it bought the property and owns it.
"The 1st interested party executed a formal agreement of sale dated 19th October, 2015 with ADC and affirms that it honoured the full terms of the agreement of sale and that land parcel Transmara/Intona/34 was transferred and a title issued in the name of North Mogor Holdings Ltd on 17th November, 2015," said the company.
The 15,000-acre Mutara ranch has also been in the news previously for the wrong reasons, after pastoralists from Laikipia accused the ADC of irregularly transferring land they had been grazing their animals on to private entities.
The dispute, which ended up in court, began after pastoralists were suddenly stopped from accessing the grazing fields by heavily armed police officers in 2016. Before the land changed hands, local residents told court, they used to pay Sh200 monthly to ADC to allow them to graze their animals in the vast grassland.