According to the Kenya YearBook released on May 25, Ruto – then Agriculture Minister – impressed Kibaki with his hard work and revolution of the sector.
After being appointed into office, the then minister strived to prove that he was the right man to run the sector.
From addressing tea issues in Gatundu and restoring or expanding farm extensions and mechanisation services, subsidies to lower farm input costs, refurbishment and revival of irrigation systems and agro-industrial processing mills.
His policy implementations consisted of combinations of interventions aimed at quickly achieving and sustaining specific programs and targets.
“It was his stated aim to lead the agriculture sector to surplus production within his tenure. More emphatically, he vowed repeatedly that no Kenyans would face famine or starvation under his leadership,â€ an excerpt of the YearBook reads adding that the Ruto’s agenda leaned more towards collective responsibility and coordination.
He worked in tandem with other ministers such as Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta (now President) to create better working environments for the achievement of ambitious policy targets.
The man who would later become DP also used Uhuru’s relation with Kibaki to seek an audience with the second President. These meetings were used to polish ideas and seek Kibaki’s counsel on crucial decisions.
Ruto oversaw the timely arrival of seeds and fertilizers during planting seasons, diesel was subsidised to increase farmer margins. Rice and cotton farming was expanded and a number of local cereal depots were constructed.
By March 2010, the Agriculture Minister’s approach in the delivery of services was applauded by Kibaki who highly ranked the docket. The President publicly admitted to having a good working relationship with Ruto and he made it his (Kibaki’s) agenda to preside over the ministries gala and Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) annual shows.
“In March 2010 at the Eldoret ASK Show, Kibaki invited Ruto to ride with him in the Commander-in-Chief’s parade mobile, an unprecedented display of approval. Ruto had exceeded high expectations in the unlikeliest of places,” the YearBook adds.
It, however, alleged that the fondness with Kibaki upset ODM members, from leader Raila Odinga (then Prime Minister) and other politicians. When the maize scandal broke out in 2010, the Eldoret North MP’s critics reportedly seized the moment to demand his resignation.
ODM members supported the censure motion tabled in Parliament by then Ikolomani MP Boni Khalwale. The motion was voted down by the majority.
Kibaki was, nonetheless, forced to transfer Ruto from Agriculture to Higher Education Ministry where the DP was also lauded for reforms such as government support of TVETs.
Raila’s attempts to fire Ruto from Higher Education backfired when Kibaki reversed Raila’s directive through an executive order. A few months later, Kibaki suspended Ruto after consultations with Raila. This was after Ruto was sued in court for allegedly being involved in the 2003 Ngong Forest land case.