, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 24 – Deputy President William Ruto has urged government officials to adhere to a new operational order instituted by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday establishing a national committee to oversee the implementation of government programmes.
Ruto whose influence was seen to have been curtailed by an Executive Order mandating Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi to chair a National Development Implementation and Communication Committee supervising the rollout of government plans endorsed President Kenyatta’s move in a tweet on Thursday.
The tweet came a day after Ruto met Kenyatta for lunch at a restaurant in Mombasa amid speculation that the Executive Order transferred powers previously vested on him to Matiangi.
“GoK officers at all levels should align their operations to the ORDER issued by HE the President setting up committees at county, regional, national (technical)and national (Cabinet) for purposes of effective implementation of projects & programmes and efficient communication,” he tweeted.
The speculation was particularly rife given the structure of the National Development Implementation and Communication Committee, which comprises all Cabinet Secretaries, the Attorney General and Head of Public Service.
Both Kenyatta’s and Ruto’s press aides did not give details of the lunch meeting shrouded in secrecy which was attended by a host of national leaders including National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, Majority Leader Aden Duale, Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka, his deputy Kithure Kindiki, and Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen.
None of the leaders who attended the meeting has commented on what transpired.
The formation of the committee with three other committees including a technical team, regional, and county teams was seen as a move to deter Ruto from using development as a launch pad for his 2022 presidential campaign.
The national committee chaired by Matiangi with Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich as Vice-Chairperson is supported by a technical committee comprising of Principal Secretaries under the chairmanship of Interior’s Karanja Kibicho who is deputized by his Treasury counterpart Kamau Thugge.
Ruto has attracted criticism in the past for constantly moving around the country to commission development projects, Opposition leader Raila Odinga terming his grassroots tours as early campaigns.
Odinga whose March 9, 2018, truce with Kenyatta, popularly referred to as the handshake, led to renewed efforts for national unity is seen as Ruto’s main challenger in the 2022 presidential race. The long serving opposition figure has however remained noncommittal on his candidacy.
A section of Ruto’s supporters have blamed ensuing wrangles in the ruling Jubilee Party, which the DP has alluded to in the past to Odinga’s newfound dalliance with Kenyatta.
“You know I was in Odinga’s ODM party and they kicked me out but I want to be clear with them that they cannot chase me out of the Orange Party and eject me of Jubilee Party,” the DP said in October last year.
“We have no space for gossip, propaganda, and conmanship in our party and government. So if you think you’re going to use the handshake to export conmanship into our party we’re telling you that is not going to happen,” the Ruto remarked during a tour of the coast region in October.
Ruto later in November hosted Kenyatta and Odinga to a luncheon at his Karen residence calming fears of spiralling tension with his boss over the March 9 handshake.
During the November 2 lunch meeting of the trio who were joined by Senator Kipchumba, the Kenyatta and Ruto were seen in a jovial mood, the DP tweeting the images with a caption: “consulting with by boss President Kenyatta on matters development and unity.”
“Hosted President Kenyatta and Odinga for lunch at the Karen Residence, Nairobi County,” a follow-up tweet read.
Later in November, Ruto hosted visiting Mozambican leader Filipe Nyusi at State House Mombasa, the two later conducting a working tour of the seaport in the coastal city.
“We are increasing capital, human investment at the Port of Mombasa; leveraging on cutting-edge technology and infrastructure to improve cargo handling, storage facilities and boost competitiveness,” his office quoted him following the meeting with Nyusi on November 24 depicted as an occasion Ruto performed delegated State duties.