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Citizen Weekly

Monday, 9 February 2015

Are surviving former YK’92 operatives re-grouping around DP?

Is it a mere coincidence that in the thick of any storm raised about an irregular land allocation and in the resultant crisis, one prominent name keeps popping up: that of Deputy President William Ruto, and then it fizzles out as that of Patrick Osero, the former Youth for Kanu ‘92 executive officer?
The diminutive, easy-going, friendly national chairman of the Agricultural Finance Corporation is an undergraduate of Baraton University and holds a Masters Degree in Agriculture from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
Recently, when the storm over the grabbing of the Karen Land erupted and those complaining pointed fingers at senior government officers including Ruto, the full list of beneficiaries emerged minus the DP, but instead Osero’s name was featuring. In an ongoing land fraud case in Ruai where the DP has for long been mentioned adversely of irregularly acquiring over 1,200 acres partly meant for a dumpsite and partly being scrambled for by thousands of squatters.
Now, in the most widespread and probably the country’s most embarrassing land grab quarrel that recently caught international media headlines for all the wrong reasons, the Langata Road Primary School land scandal, linked to expansion designs by neighbouring Weston Hotel earlier linked to the DP, a top lawyer emerged with records to show that the  hotel which stands on land irregularly acquired from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, belongs to this same man - Patrick Osero.
Many are asking loudly is Osero his own man or is he the DP’s strategic ever available shield whenever trouble erupts? Does his financial portfolio look like that of a man who can deploy so massive resources as to put up such a big hotel and attempt to acquire and invest in such vast pieces of land.
Considering that friends and family know him as a man of unassuming means living in a humble neighbourhood in South B and who socialises in common man’s hounds in Rongai and Nairobi West shopping centre, including the popular West End Bar, frequented by members of his Gusii community.
Apart from being the man “whose questionable acquisitions and property” have inexplicably attracted the name of the deputy president, a queer anomaly none of the two men is willing to come forward to explain, the two men are known to have met when they both teamed up with former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo in YK’92 to campaign for the re-election of Kanu and President Daniel Moi, in the hotly contested 1992 general elections.
As national executive officer, Osero was in the pecking order of the Jirongo led outfit senior to Ruto, who never held any meaningful portfolio then. The two are among a select few who stuck with Jirongo as a splinter group revolving around former Aldai MP the late Jimmy Choge, vice chairman, and current Kenya Football Federation president Sammy Nyamweya, the organising secretary,  broke off in a bitter dispute that saw the government crack down and ban the more powerful Jirongo faction which was accused of among others,  carrying out subversive activities aimed at bringing down the Moi government early in 1993, just months after working so hard to have it survive a powerful opposition electoral onslaught.
For now, Jirongo and Nyamweya have no time for the DP whom they see as a junior person despite the second powerful office he holds. Apart from Jirongo and Nyamweya, former Raila Odinga and Musalia Mudavadi do not have time for Ruto. To the group, Ruto is in his current position by fluke, thanks to the ICC factor that united him with Uhuru Kenyatta to win sympathy from powerful voting blocs.
With the government ban on YK’92 and its officials put under close surveillance by the then dreaded Special Branch police unit, those who escaped the Moi onslaught went underground and opted to resort to land deals, most of them dubious and which saw the rise of overnight millionaires mainly young men who specialised in grabbing and selling public land at exorbitant prices.
This period of generating overnight millionaires belonged to a crafty small clique of former YK’92 boys who, for survival reasons, pretended to disown their former boss and pledged loyalty to a corrupt powerful clique in the executive that oscillated around former vice president George Saitoti, the then Kanu secretary general Joseph Kamotho and State House operatives led by Joshua Kulei.
That period which lasted throughout the 1990s, incidentally is the period Osero and the deputy president thrived and kicked off their careers in active politics. In 1997, Ruto riding on Jirongo’s back, won the Eldoret North parliamentary seat while Osero tried but failed to win the Borabu parliamentary seat. He was to try unsuccessfully again in 2002, 2007 and 2013.
Even as they set out to enrich themselves through land deals across the country, these former YK’92 operatives set their eyes high on national politics. But at the same time, they never put their eyes away from lucrative land deals. It is during this time that the Langata Road Primary School land and both the Ruai and Weston Hotel land parcels were allegedly grabbed and title deeds dished to them. Other big land deals saw to the grabbing of ADC farms across the country, land parcels set aside for prisons, NYS, schools, administration infrastructure including parcels for state lodges, forest land, riparian land (wetlands) and estate children playfields in urban centres and other strategic land parcels set aside for public amenities.
Keen observers of the controversy surrounding the Langata Prisons land and other government property in the area will agree the Kalenjin community were the main beneficiaries. Moi grabbed land and built Sunshine High School. Nicholas Biwott, a powerful minister in Moi’s government, has an estate in the same locality while Kulei also benefitted with even land being grabbed and sold to National Housing Corporation by a powerful cartel in then Moi regime. NHC has constructed houses and sold to the public. Kogo Plaza owned by a one time Moi ally is also constructed on alleged grabbed plot.
Kalenjin wheeler dealers at one time frequently visited Garage Bar which was then located next to T-Mall on Mbagathi round-about to cut deals. An estate next to Jonathan Groag School Airport View is also owned by a son of Moi.
Many recall the many land grabbing cases involving the DP when Narc came into power. They included Kenya Pipeline Company that led to Ruto and Kulei’s arrest by CID. Osero paid a surety of Sh6 million for Ruto leaving many asking if he had such money bearing his private office is located at Old Mutual building with no much activities therein. To be found in Osero’s office then were only office messengers and errand boys with details of running to the Lands ministry when Zablon Mabea and Sammy Mwaita were in charge. Mwaita later joined politics and defeated Gideon Moi in 2002 to clinch the Baringo Central parliamentary seat in the Moi’s own bastion. He is close to Ruto and word has it that Mwaita with the blessings of the DP, will ran for Baringo senatorship come 2017.
Political analysts recall that apart from massive land grabbing mania associated with YK’92 operatives, they were also famed for financial gangsterism, where they are said to have caused the crumbling of many financial institutions in the wake of the money minting and unsecured loans from many banks to bail out Kanu in the 1992 campaigns.
Banks which collapsed in the historic banking crisis of between 1993 and 1996 created by YK’92 money madness that caused terrible inflation include Trade Bank, Post Bank Credit, Trust Bank, while more stable banks like Trans National Bank, KCB, National Bank and BCCI tottered. Financial institutions like NSSF and AFC were shaken badly and slowed down in their financial operations. During the Goldenberg inquiry, it was revealed that colossal amounts of money were given to the officials of the YK’92 outfit for their campaigns too. Trust Bank’s Ajay Shah is said to be close of Ruto.
Fear to many is that as Ruto works towards rising to the presidency in 2022, allies and operatives seem to be clinging onto him hard while appearing to be reviving various money minting schemes that clearly manifests “YK’92 unfinished business”.
It is not yet clear whether it is a joint effort or Osero’s personal pursuits. Neither is it known whether this is the beginning of regrouping to bring together former key officials including Ben Wakhungu, Ken Omanga, Vincent Shimoli, Hamisi MP Charles Gimose, Cecafa secretary general Nicholas Musonye, Alex Mukabwa and Mohammed Bafadhil and Olympio. Others like Gerald Bomet, Pyman Onyango, Kennedy Osir, William Omoga, Rajab Walialula, Finny Muyeshi and Jim Choge are long dead.
At the height of the Kanu Youth outfit’s crusade, whose secretariat Osero headed, it is reported that top leaders had gotten drunk with power.
 The whole scenario paints the outfit and its operatives as men of reckless ambition and dangerous appetite for shortcuts to wealth and glory, oblivious of the need for mature leadership, respect for the rights and wealth of other citizens and institutions, nor value for social order and harmony.
 Little wonder, YK’92 operatives were mentioned adversely in the electoral violence that erupted around the 1992 elections and other electoral offences like massive voter bribery. Note that the High Court proved that Ruto grabbed Adrian Muteshi’s 100-acre farm in Turbo in 2008. It is also worth noting that Ruto finds himself at the centre of the 2007/8 post-election violence issues.
 Osero whose late father was the first MP for Borabu in 1960s avoids participating in efforts to shape the community’s politics even if only towards the much sought after unity. However, he is Ruto’s blue-eyed boy for the Borabu parliamentary seat come 2017 general elections.
With his closeness to the deputy president and his quiet elevation through the parastatal sector, where he is AFC chairman courtesy of Ruto, many are wondering whether he is being groomed for a key role in a post-2022 William Ruto government where Kindiki Kithure is lined up to be the deputy president should things work their way and favour. Could he be the next head of the civil service under President Ruto? 
Hate him or love him, Osero is a strategist and a man said not to abandon friends when in trouble.Further it is said the tycoon does not like to be a show off preffering to live a humble life and always in church with his family.
In his native home,Osero has been sponsoring football activities to help youths. Pays school fees  for less fortunate ones. His supporters say, despite losing the parliamentary race for years, he has never stopped in giving a hand when need be.
In  Jubilee URP side, Osero is one of the most powerful individuals outside Kalenjin land and as aresult has made more enemies than friends.Some of his enemies want to clip his powers and how he will navigate the turbulent political waters only time will tell. Osero sin being his closseness to the DP a man he stood with at the hour of need when pals had deserted him.