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Uhuru ‘protocol hitch’ lights up social media

By Jacob Ngetich and Roselyne Obala | October 17th 2020

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto during a cabinet meeting.

Yesterday’s reception of President Uhuru Kenyatta by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i in Manyani, Taita Taveta in the presence of Deputy President William Ruto, set tongues wagging.

Early photos shared on the State House online platforms showed President Kenyatta being welcomed to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Law Enforcement Academy by Matiangí ahead of Dr Ruto.

Uhuru, aboard Kenya Air Force 1806, greeted Ruto standing about a metre away after greeting Dr Matiangí. With clasped hands, he also waved to Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua who was part of the team at the airstrip.

Extra-ordinary session

A dispatch from the Cabinet yesterday said the extra-ordinary session received the report on the state of national security, nationhood and territorial integrity.

“The ground breaking report covered a wide range of issues, including national cyber projects, geospatial surveys and airborne geophysical projects, the National Integrated Information Management programme – Huduma Namba and the National security industrilasation project,” noted the dispatch.

But away from the details of the rendezvous at the park, where a number of local innovations were showcased, allies of the President and the DP went into a frenzy on social media about the ‘protocol hitch’.

Later on during the day, Uhuru and Ruto had a cordial engagement. A senior official, however, said there was no protocol hitch.

“What happened was that when the plane was about to land, the dignitaries were informed and they rushed to the field to welcome the President. In the confusion, and because of the position where the aircraft landed, the Interior CS happened to be near the plane,” the official, who requested not to be named said. 

Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Arama said the photos were a clear indication that President Kenyatta had confidence in Matiangí regarding the implementation of his vision as opposed to the DP who had gone on a campaign mode.

“It was not by accident that it is Matiangí welcoming the President to the event. He has earned his place in the Uhuru government through loyalty and hard work. No wonder he chairs the Cabinet sub-committee,” said Arama.

In January last year, an Executive Order by President Kenyatta handed Matiang’i sweeping powers to oversight government programmes.

This was widely seen as a vote of confidence on the minister given that he would oversee Uhuru’s legacy projects.

In the arrangement, Matiang’i was elevated to chair a key committee on the implementation of development programmes whose membership includes Cabinet Secretaries, Attorney General and Head of the Public Service.

Yesterday, former Senate Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki said it is no longer a secret that Uhuru and Ruto are going through a strained relationship.

“He, like young Icarus in Greek mythology, is scaling the temporal heights of limelight as he flies closer and closer to the sun totally disregarding the advice of his father Deadalus. The consequences shall follow sooner than later,” he tweeted.

Elgeyo/Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said on Twitter “that is Executive Order No 1 of 2019 in one picture.”

Soy MP Caleb Kositany said Matiangi was receiving President Kenyatta while looking on is “clerk” Ruto.

Nominated Senator Millicent Omanga said: “This reminds me how Daniel Moi was frustrated as Vice President by people who didn’t want him to ascend to the throne. The rest is history.”

ODM MPs also waded into the debate and urged Ruto to resign if he felt offended.

Opiyo Wandayi dared Ruto allies to call it quits.

“How hard is it for him to dispatch that resignation letter? But whining inside a sprawling State mansion with huge trappings and a salary without doing any job seems to be a working strategy,” he said.

Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo said: “...send that long pending letter of resignation.”

Mohamud Saleh, a former Regional Commissioner for North Eastern Region claimed he had in the past witnessed Ruto reversing protocol by requesting junior officers to take the lead and welcome the President.

“It happened to me once as Regional Commissioner North Eastern region in 2017,” he tweeted.

Efforts to reconcile President Kenyatta and his deputy spearheaded by some clerics, senior politicians and businessmen hit a snag after the two camps renewed a war of words.

On Thursday during a visit by Ruto to Kisii, the DP said the President’s team had shelved development and were now in pursuit of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) which was seeking to create seats for a few people at the top.

Hustler nation

“They are seeking power for the few people and we as hustler nation are calling for empowerment, the people will decide,” said Ruto.

Yesterday however, the President appeared keen to dwell on the agenda of the Manyani meeting.

“There were those who thought we were coming here to discuss politics. They would not have come here if they knew it was about technology,” said Uhuru.

Uhuru said they had hosted the young people so that they could tap into their innovations rather than always looking to the outside world.

“It is our responsibility to first look inwardly for anything we need to do, develop capacity from within. Let us look within our borders, not always to look at out there and see, which contract I am going to give China, America, UK, for some company to come and do and take their expertise away,” he said.

Uhuru said there was need to develop their talents because young people will create jobs for their fellow Kenyans.

“Kenya’s best kept asset and secret are the youth; who use technology to create ideas which have commercial value. The young people come from every corner in this country,” he said.

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