PROFILE

John Seii: The flip-flopping military man

He was fired from the military when his wife declared her interest to unseat Biwott as Keiyo South MP.

In Summary

• He claimed on Thursday last week that some of the sweeping proposals were totally alien because they never featured in their initial deliberations.

• He told the Kalenjin vernacular radio station that they were not allowed to go through the final report 

National Council of Elders patron Kung'u Muigai, chairman Phares Rutere and Major (Rtd) John Seii on November 6, 2020.
National Council of Elders patron Kung'u Muigai, chairman Phares Rutere and Major (Rtd) John Seii on November 6, 2020.
Image: AMOS NJAU

Major (Rtd) John Seii, a member of the BBI taskforce, has caused a political storm after he told Emo FM that the team did not approve some of the final recommendations.

He told the Kalenjin vernacular radio station that they were not allowed to go through the final report to confirm its contents before it was handed to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga a day after the Mashujaa Day celebrations in Kisii county.

He claimed on Thursday last week that some of the sweeping proposals were totally alien because they never featured in their initial deliberations.

"In our minds, we had heard the call from Kenyans to Kupunguza Mzigo. The donkey is tired and should be relieved and if not so, then do not add more burden.

"Then we saw the introduction of 70 MPs. Then we asked: where did the 70 come from? Who said this county should get them and the others will not get them?" he asked.

He also said Kenyans did not ask for the expansion of the Executive, adding that the section was secretly added by unknown individuals within the team under instructions from elsewhere.

But BBI joint secretary Paul Mwangi dismissed the claims by Seii. "Of concern though is why Major Seii, a respected elder, is lying. Ever since 2018, he has said he is under pressure," he said.

Soon after this, Seii said "the BBI document is good" and he fully supports it. So who is Major (Rtd) John Seii?

Seii hails from Elgeyo Marakwet and has been a notable figure in peacebuilding activities in the North Rift region, especially after the 2007 post-election violence.

His involvement in peacebuilding began as far as during the 1992 ethnic clashes. He is the chairman of Kalenjin Council of Elders and deputy chair of the National Council of Elders.

He is a former army major. Seii, in an interview with Citizen TV in February 2011, said he was unfairly sacked from the military in 1983 during the Daniel Moi administration.

He blamed his tribulations on former powerful Cabinet Minister Nicholas Biwott.

So why would Biwott want him fired?

Major Seii is married to Ambassador Tabitha Seii (for about 44 years). At the time of his sacking, she had declared her interest in wresting the Keiyo South MP seat from Biwott.

In a February 2018 tweet, Seii's daughter, Jerotich, referred to her mother as “one of original Biwott disruptors”.

Despite her husband being fired, Tabitha went ahead to vie against Biwott for the Keiyo South parliamentary seat in 1992 and 1997 general elections. She lost on both occasions.

She served as Kenya’s Ambassador to South Africa between 2003 and 2007. And being a military man, Seii leads quite a democratic family.

While his wife is a close ally of ODM leader Raila Odinga, Seii is himself is a close confidant of Deputy President William Ruto, who is said to have appointed him to the BBi taskforce.

His daughter, Jerotich, who is an activist and development consultant, has been a key voice against the BBI. Besides Jerotich, Seii has other four children — Victor, Philemon, Chichi and Dr Mercy Seii.