“I am a politician, trader and former teacher. I do not know why they think they can intimidate me…”.
These were the words of Festus Mwangi Kiunjuri on May 27, 2018, as some called for his resignation over an alleged maize scandal at the National Cereals and Produce Board.
On Tuesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta kicked the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary out of his government in a move that may not have come as a surprise to many observers.
In addition, he has come under criticism for the woes that have been facing farmers in Uhuru’s backyard as well as across the country.
The fact that Uhuru spent the better part of his speech addressing the sector, for keen observers, it was time for Kiunjuri to go.
In the Ministry of Agriculture, he has been faced with a lot of challenges, including the recurring maize crisis, fluctuating tea prices, importation of cheap milk and eggs that have flooded the market, dealing a blow to local farmers.
Kiunjuri has also had to deal with the storm that erupted in the wake of the ailing sugar sector, which has resulted in several state-owned sugarcane millers closing down.
The sacking of the CS comes at a time when he has been seen to be getting closer to the Deputy President William Ruto in matters Mt Kenya politics.
However, the two have been friends for longer than they have worked together in government.
Immediately after being appointed as CS, Kiunjuri was among politicians who were at The Hague to accompany Ruto during his no-case-answer oral submissions at the ICC.
Kiunjuri was also not among the group of CSs and PSs who were meeting in the infamous La Mada meetings where there was an alleged plot to tame Ruto.
There have also been several occasions in the recent past that politicians have been calling on Kiunjuri to take over the mantle from Uhuru ahead of the next election.
While some of his critics, especially those in the Kieleweke side of Jubilee, have accused him of undermining the president, Kiunjuri has severally maintained that he is offering solutions.
“I am loyal to the President and I don’t think anybody will be offended by me offering a solution when called upon. I am a senior member of the community with vast experience in leadership,” Kiunjuri said in a previous interview with the Nation.
After the 2017 election, Uhuru moved Kiunjuri to the Ministry of Agriculture in a mini-reshuffle.
At the time of his appointment in 2015, Kiunjuri was seen as Uhuru’s favourite CS from the Mt Kenya region.