Until 10 years ago, Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen was little-known and could pass unnoticed on the streets of Eldoret town.
But today, Mr Murkomen – a University of Nairobi-trained lawyer – has risen through the ranks to become one of the most influential leaders in the Rift Valley.
He is the de facto second-in -command Kalenjin leader after Deputy President (DP) William Ruto, a position he seems keen to cling to in the hope of taking over from the DP once he is out of the political picture.
For a son of a peasant, whose father has always sought the comfort and promises of the Bible to raise his children, Mr Murkomen’s rise from grass to grace appears well on course, at least for now.
Sitting now at the high table, having a direct line to the DP and controlling the Senate’s agenda, should encompass what grace is.
Even with such an elevated status, controversy is the other name for Mr Murkomen.
ROILING POLITICAL WATERS
An ardent supporter of Dr Ruto, Mr Murkomen, who is also the Senate majority leader, is not new to controversy and always speaks his mind.
He takes to Twitter and other social media platforms to voice his concerns on national issues.
During his first term as Elgeyo-Marakwet senator, in addition to being a member of the infamous Sky Team, he remained guarded on his political pronouncements.
His words were carefully picked. The second term has been different.
Last year, just as the country was settling following the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his then-political nemesis Raila Odinga, Mr Murkomen threw a spanner in the country’s tranquil space after he claimed that some people at State House were plotting to stop the DP from succeeding Mr Kenyatta in 2022.
Since that revelation, the ruling Jubilee Party has never been the same.
Mr Murkomen has however not relented. He has continuously attacked Mr Odinga, accusing him of wrecking the ruling party for the benefit of his 2022 presidential bid, an accusation the opposition leader has vehemently denied.
He has not made direct attacks at the President, only skirting around when it comes to addressing him.
Lately, he has become the face of rebellion on the Maasai Mau evictions, liberally dismissing Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko and Rift Valley Regional Coordinator George Natembeya who are leading the government’s reclamation of the vital forest.
Early this week, Mr Murkomen accused Mr Tobiko of pursuing his own agenda in Mau, claiming that the Cabinet has not sanctioned evictions.
He said the Jubilee government remains resolute on its quest for national unity and will not allow ‘political dealers’ to use Mau to divide Kenyans on ethnic basis.
“The government of Kenya led by President Kenyatta has not tabled in its own Cabinet a decision on how to resettle the people of Mau. The truth is also that the Cabinet has not decided on eviction of anybody and neither does the Jubilee government believe in eviction of its citizens.
"This is a decision made by a single Cabinet secretary and a regional commissioner who are determined to act on an illegality,” Mr Murkomen said.
Just a day later, the government spokesman, Col (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna, defended the CS, saying the evictions had the blessings of the President.
Before the Mau debacle, Mr Murkomen was just recovering from his relentless defence of the Arror and Kimwarer dams where he made himself more enemies when he endlessly claimed no money was lost in the dams scam despite investigative agencies claiming and seeking to prove the opposite.
At some point he claimed the dams, located in his county, were being used to frustrate the DP’s presidential bid.
He is representing some of the suspects in the dams saga.
The Sh21 billion dams scandal put him on a collision course with his governor, Mr Alex Tolgos.
The two have not enjoyed each other’s company since they were elected in 2013 and the dams scandal only fanned the hatred for each other.
Mr Murkomen considers Mr Tolgos a weakling who needs closer attention, but the latter hates the former’s overbearing attitude.
It is well known that Mr Tolgos abandoned Dr Ruto’s camp because of the senator. The governor has opted to join Senator Gideon Moi’s camp.