Politics

Inside Ruto’s inner circle: Main men in DP’s 2022 strategy room

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Deputy President William Ruto is putting together a powerful team to craft his 2022 campaign manifesto and strategy.

The list of strategists and advisers includes individuals who have held powerful positions in previous regimes, some of who are working behind the scenes because they fear intimidation from the ‘Deep State’, the Nation has established.

The individuals who form part of Dr Ruto’s inner circle, as he works on a grand manifesto to marshal support across the country for the nation’s top job, include political and technical advisers, religious leaders and trade unionists.

The faces include former allies of former President Mwai Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

The DP says he is putting finer details to his bottom-up economic model, one he insists will be the panacea to the economic woes bedevilling the country.

In the inner circle, the Nation has established that the second-in-command has picked only trusted allies, with the intention of stemming leaks of confidential information to rivals amid fears of moles planted in his camp.

The DP gave a sneak peek of this team when he met leaders from Western Kenya in Naivasha late last month.

Besides Dr David Ndii, who has become the face of the bottom-up economic model experts in the DP’s camp, Dr Ruto also listed Dr Irene Asienga, Mr Augustine Cheruiyot and Dr Mugambi Mureithi as among those helping him craft his manifesto.

Dr Asienga is a Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) commissioner and an economist with a wealth of knowledge and experience in all aspects of economic planning, economic development, strategy and research while Mr Cheruiyot is the DP’s chief adviser on food security and agriculture.

Dr Ndii is well-known for his role in crafting the Raila Odinga-led National Super Alliance (Nasa) manifesto in 2017, as well as leading the People’s Assembly — forums the opposition organised to collect views of Kenyans in what Nasa said was a revolution.

He also advised the Narc administration on the Economic Recovery Strategy credited with the post-2003 recovery of the economy.

According to multiple sources in the DP’s camp, the team led by Dr Ndii also has Prof Raphael Munavu.

Prof Munavu is professor of Chemistry at the University of Nairobi where he has served since 1976. He is currently Chairman of the Kenya National Academy of Sciences (KNAS) as well as chairman of the Council of South Eastern University College.

The five are the backbone of the hustler nation blueprint, and who will, in the end, craft a manifesto after meetings in the regions.

Prof Munavu and Dr Asienga did not respond to the Nation’s inquiries.

However on Monday, Prof Munavu was among academicians the DP said attended the South Eastern bloc economic forum that ended yesterday at the Oltukai Lodge in Amboseli, Kajiado County.

In a tweet, Dr Ruto also listed Prof Joseph Nzomoi, Prof Peter Lewa, Dr Kithiyo Matemo, Prof Emmanuel Mutisya, Engineer Dennis Mwangangi and Engineer Pius Kathusya among the experts in attendance at the forum to brainstorm Makueni, Kitui and Machakos economic strategies.

Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok is the national coordinator of Dr Ruto’s economic forums.

The forums, which have been held in Coast, Nyanza, Mt Kenya, Western and Eastern, are expected to culminate in a 2022 manifesto and campaign strategy.

The advisers are covering many issues, including gender, agriculture and food security, youth affairs and politics.

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While the DP had suggested that former Central Bank of Kenya governor Prof Njuguna Ndung’u was also part of the think-tank when he took pictures with him at his official Karen residence last year, the economist has since not been seen in public with Dr Ruto.

“We are keen on formulating an economic blueprint that infuses in the architecture of our country’s economics pro-poor policies that will contribute towards the building of an inclusive nation, devoid of ethnicity, hate and elite domination in our politics,” Dr Ruto has stressed.

Dr Korir Sing’oei, the head of law and policy at the DP’s office, is handling political and legal affairs alongside Mr Katwa Kigen.

Dr Sing’oei previously worked with Katiba Institute, while Mr Kigen was part of the DP’s legal team in the International Criminal Court case.

When contacted, Mr Kigen admitted that he offers legal advice to the Deputy President whenever there is need. “Yes, I still advise the DP Ruto on legal matters when I am asked,” he said.

In packaging messages that resonate well with his ‘Hustler Nation’, the DP has armed himself with Prof Edward Kisiang’ani, communications expert Barrack Muluka and management consultant and strategist Eliud Owalo, who previously worked with the former Prime Minister.

Acknowledging his role, Prof Kisiang’ani described the DP as a keen listener, who cherishes the advice of experts in various fields.

“We must have a conversation on how to change our country in a peaceful way so that we bring some little happiness to our people. I have contributed to this idea of bottom-up. It is a corporate mindset and no one can own it,” Prof Kisiang’ani told the Nation.

Mr Owalo has been in the frontline in coordinating activities of the Hustler Movement in Mr Odinga’s Nyanza political stronghold. Dr Muluka, however, said his role ended at the development of a strategic communication blue print.

“I am not part of DP Ruto’s political team, but he requested me to prefer for him and his team a strategic communication blueprint last year and it ended there. In case he will contact me again to review it, we will engage at a professional level,” Dr Muluka explained.

A team of professionals from various regional and ethnic backgrounds form the core of the advisory team.

“DP Ruto respects and values professional advice. What matters to him is competence and integrity. That’s a preview of the kind of professional and competent government that he will constitute,” Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata said.

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa explained: “There is a team that has cascaded to county levels coming to national levels. Ruto seems to have abandoned the old way of doing things and crafted a new way of playing politics.”

Backing the experts is a team of young legislators drawn from various parts of the country tasked with selling the Hustler message.

Dr Ruto also has in his team two former members of the National Super Alliance (Nasa) steering committee — former senators Boni Khalwale (Kakamega) and Johnson Muthama (Machakos) — as well as former Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar.

Mr Muthama, who is also the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) chairman, said every region has been presenting its economic requests, which they would like implemented if the DP becomes president next year. BY DAILY NATION


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