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Franklin Kipn'getich Bett (born 1953) is a Kenyan politician currently serving as Minister of Roads. He belongs to the Orange Democratic Movement and was elected to represent the Bureti Constituency in the National Assembly of Kenya since the Kenyan parliamentary election, 2007.
Early life and education
Honorable Franklin Kipng’etich Bett, also known as Chepkooit to his supporters, was born on the morning of 23 March 1953 in Kiptiriri village, Cheborge Location in the larger Kericho District. He was enrolled in Cheborge Primary School in 1960 and later moved to the newly built Korongoi Primary School in 1963 where he graduated at the top of his class in 1968.
He was selected to join Tenwek High School in 1969, by then a mission school under the auspices of the World Gospel Missionaries. Some of Bett's notable co-alumni of Tenwek High School include Mr. Mark Kipkemoi Bor, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, his close friend and predecessor at the Ministry of Roads the late Hon. Kipkalya Kones, the late Dr. Bishop Rono, Honorable Ambassador John Koech, Hon. Josephat Nanok and many other leaders in business, politics and academia.
Like in his primary school cycle; Bett graduated from Tenwek High School in 1972 with Division 1, the highest grade possible in the then Kenya Certificates of Examination (O-level).
In 1973, he proceeded to Shimo la Tewa High School in Mombasa for his Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE) where he attained 3 principals in History, Geography, Economics and 1 subsidiary in General Paper upon graduation from the school in 1974.
After graduation, Bett went back home where he founded Tebesonik Secondary School and served briefly as its first Head Teacher before joining the University of Nairobi to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Commerce (Accounting) where he left in 1979 with an honours degree.
Immediately after graduating, Bett joined the Civil Service where he built an illustrious career that culminated in his appointment by merit as an Assistant Secretary at the Treasury in 1987. His seniors at the time included Simeon Nyachae, a one-time Finance Minister, Chief Secretary and renowned businessman; and Jeremiah Kiereini who too was once a Chief Secretary, Head of the Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet and now a very prominent businessman. Bett credits the two for mentoring him and he believes their wise counsel prepared him for the senior positions he was to occupy later in government and the managerial acuity he applies to his business ventures.
As the clamour for multi-party democracy gathered pace in the late 80s, Bett was to fall victim to political witch-hunt as the Moi-KANU regime clamped down on those whom they perceived to be sympathizers of pro-democracy agitators. With Nyachae fallen from grace, he was accused of being his mole, a charge he denied then and denies today. He rebutted the claims saying he was not a politician but an impartial servant of the Kenyan people. When his detractors proved hell-bent on fixing him, he resigned in principle in 1988.
After his resignation, he worked briefly with the Federation of Kenya Employers before the then president Daniel T. arap Moi recalled him back to government and assigned him the Supplies Branch of the Ministry of Roads and Public Works. Hardly 60 days passed before Moi, once again, tapped him for the position of Deputy State House Comptroller. His main duties were speech and report writing.
He served in the position till 1996 when he was promoted to the position of State House Comptroller upon the retirement of Abraham Kiptanui whom he was deputising. He discharged the duties of State House Comptroller for two years when in 1998, he fell casualty to political intrigues once again.
This occasioned his demotion to a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environmental Conservation. Like before, he took the tribulation in his stride and served with his distinctive commitment. Among other achievements in the ministry, he spearheaded the drafting of the Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA) which was subsequently passed by parliament in 1999.
Bett was not to last long as PS before conspiracies came knocking his door for the third time. His detractors (in very senior government positions) from back home were unhappy with his success in business enterprises that spanned agriculture, education, health and energy sectors of the economy. A plot was hatched to disorientate him from keeping a close watch on his businesses and was therefore transferred to serve as Kenya's High Commissioner to Australia. He did not let the veiled demotion preoccupy him and hopped into a flight to Australia. Unlike in the previous demotions however, his patience could not endure watching his businesses fall into ruins. After only one year in Canberra, his businesses were declining faster than he had imagined possible due to mismanagement. He therefore decided to apply for early retirement so he may go back home and stabilise his businesses. His retirement was approved by Richard Leakey who was at the time the Chief Secretary in the Office of the President. That was the year 2001.
In early 2002, Bett was approached by Raila Odinga to join him in a new political outfit called the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and he acquiesced. Bett proved an invaluable asset to the fledgling party as he was able to exploit his vast local and international networks to advance the party. Within a few months, the party had already re-defined the country's political landscape.
When LDP joined hands with Kibaki-led NAK to form NARC, Franklin Bett was entrusted with the responsibility of co-ordinating its activities in the South Rift. In spite of the fact that South Rift had been a KANU bastion for the 4 decades since independence, Bett's team was able to claw back substantial ground for NARC. As the historic 2002 election votes trickled in, his input was manifest in the numerous civic seats, impressive performance by parliamentary candidates on its ticket and thousands of votes for its presidential candidate Mwai Kibaki who eventually was declared winner. Unlike many leaders from the region, Bett's judgment carried the day. The NARC government nominated him as a member of parliament in 2003 and was subsequently elected to chair the Parliamentary Select Committee on Agriculture, Land and Natural Resources. With him at the helm, the committee sponsored many bills and motions with the Forest Act of 2005 being its most remarkable. The committee is remembered for vehemently opposing the introduction of GMOs in the country.
The year 2005 saw Bett and Hon. Henry Kosgey playing the vanguard; leading the people of Rift Valley to join the rest of the country in overwhelmingly rejecting a watered-down draft constitution in that year's referendum. It was a momentous year in his fresh political career as his judgment was vindicated once again. In 2007, Bett contested the Buret Constituency parliamentary seat on an ODM ticket and won with a landslide garnering 43,000 votes against his nearest competitor Mr. Paul Sang of KANU who managed a measly 7,000 votes. He joined parliament's backbench and embraced the floor of the house with gusto, debating bills and asking questions touching on his constituents.
From his contributions on the Floor of the House, he was able to nudge the government into putting up a pineapple processing plant in Roret and the Tiriitab-Moita-based Bureti Technical Institute, both projects are still underway. Other projects are Kapkatet Stadium that is being modernised alongside the Sotik-Cheborge-Roret-Sigowet and Litein-Kibugat roads that are being upgraded with bitumen. The former road will connect Fort Ternan.
Following the sad demise of Kipkalya Kones, he was appointed to replace him as Minister for Roads in February 2009. His stewardship at the Ministry of Roads has seen a rapid expansion of roads infrastructure in all parts of the country.He is particularly proud that the dream Thika Superhighway became a reality under his charge.
Franklin Bett is known to be a stickler for the rule of law and laid-down procedure. People who have worked with him over the years are deeply impressed by a man who cannot cut corners and is a strict time manager. He is always on time and does not stomach anybody coming late for his appointments. In the office, his thoroughness is legendary; no detail escapes his eye in whatever he does.
Bett is fond of travelling for business and leisure. He has visited over 70 countries and has close business and political contacts in Australia, USA and UK. A voracious reader, he has amassed a library of motivational books and business journals. Being a staunch Christian, his favourite book remains to be the Bible. He has five daughters and four sons.
- Members Of The 10th Parliament. Parliament of Kenya. Accessed 19 June 2008.