William Samoei Ruto, PhD is the first holder of the Deputy President’s office, Republic of Kenya.
Dr Ruto graduated with a doctorate degree in Plant Ecology from the University of Nairobi on 21 December, 2018. He also holds a Masters degree in the same discipline from the same institution.
He began course work for his MSc in 1991, but deferred his research in 1992 when he was employed by the Kenya African National Union in its successful presidential re-election campaign.
Dr Ruto holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) degree in Botany and Zoology from the University of Nairobi.
He did his A-Levels at Kapsabet High School in Nandi County after completing his O-Levels at Wareng’ Secondary School in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County.
The Deputy President attended Kamagut Primary School, sitting the Certificate of Primary Education in 1982.
During university holidays, Dr Ruto taught in Sergoit and Kamagut secondary schools in Uasin Gishu County as an untrained teacher. At the university, he was a leader of the students’ Christian Union.
Dr Ruto is married to Rachel Chebet. They have six children.
He was born on 21 December, 1966 in Sambut Village, Kamagut in Uasin Gishu County.
The Deputy President joined mainstream politics in 1997 when he was elected Member of Parliament for Eldoret North constituency on a KANU ticket.
Before then, he had successfully contested various party branch positions.
He established himself as an astute politician and rose within the party ranks, becoming its secretary general in 2005.
He was appointed Home Affairs Assistant Minister in 2002 and re-elected as MP in the General Election later the same year.
Dr Ruto was a key campaigner of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s first presidential bid in that election.
However, Mr Kenyatta lost to Mwai Kibaki of the National Rainbow Coalition, NARC. Dr Ruto stood by Mr Kenyatta’s side as he conceded defeat and congratulated the President-elect, becoming the first presidential contender to do so.
He also served as the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional Reform in the 9th Parliament and led the process of assembling the team and setting up the structures that put Kenya on the road to a new constitution.
In January 2006, Dr Ruto declared he would join the 2007 presidential race. However, he lost in the party’s nominations.
He was appointed Minister for Agriculture in the Coalition Government that was formed. He served for three years.
His tenure at the Ministry of Agriculture stands out and his achievements are billed as the yardstick of performance politics in Kenya.
He revived irrigation schemes and provided affordable fertiliser to farmers in addition to ensuring the maize, sugarcane, coffee and tea sectors had a bumper harvest and a ready market.
He was transferred to the Ministry of Higher Education where he set up structures to reform the university education system.
Way to the top
Dr Ruto declared his candidature for the presidency in the 2013 General Election.
However, he shelved his ambition and joined hands with Mr Kenyatta to form the Jubilee Alliance, which brought together the United Republic Party (URP) led by Dr Ruto and The National Alliance Party (TNA) led by Mr Kenyatta. Other smaller parties also joined the alliance.
He was Mr Kenyatta’s running mate on a Jubilee ticket. Mr Kenyatta and Dr Ruto emerged winners and were sworn in as President and Deputy President, respectively on 9 April, 2013, for a term of five years.
In 2017, Dr Ruto was, again, the running mate of President Uhuru Kenyatta on a Jubilee Party ticket after their constituent parties (TNA and URP) merged to become one party.
Jubilee was elected on the basis of a strong track record of performance as well as its pledges to do even more in the second term.
Dr Ruto is now serving his second term as Deputy President.