How Ruto's media interview gave us a clear picture of William

More fundamentally, if the intent was for the president to address the growing publics disquiet with his administration, a more interactive session would have helped.

Positive points

I suspect the media engagement was necessitated by the findings of different opinion polls published around the 100-day mark in office. Despite the shortcomings arising from the interview itself, there are important positive take homes from it.

One, this is a clear signal that the president is alert to the public discourse going on concerning the performance of his administration.

This is unlike his predecessor who always appeared completely out of touch with not only the ongoings within his government, but also with 'things kwa ground'.

Two, creating such an amount of time for open engagement with the media by a president is quite commendable. It is a rare occurrence in a continent characterised by 'the strong men' leadership syndrome. It communicates of a leader who is free to share his thoughts about important public issues and possibly ready to take criticism on his administration. It is my prayer that he sustains this to pioneer either a quarterly or semi-annual tradition that could be emulated by future presidents.

Three, such an engagement helps us connect the dots for the decisions and policy choices of the administration. For instance, the interview put some meat into the public debates on the controversial abrupt termination of several subsidy programmes, the poor response to the cost of living and other key campaign promises.

Good or bad

While the President might have been vague on specificities, it leaves no doubt as to what expectations the citizenry should have on his administration. Whether good or bad, it reduces the information gaps for households and businesses to adjust their consumption, savings and investment decisions.

Most fundamentally, this interview introduces the human side of the president to voters. As an institution, the presidency is sacred, a symbol of national unity and confers sweeping powers with potential to easily turn even the most good person into a cannibal. From the interview, the president exposed himself on issues that the voters can hold him to account.

It further provides reference points on which the publics can judge the performance of his administration as well as alleys any doubts as to where the back stops.

Apologists of the blatant failures of the Jubilee administration kept on pointing out that former President Uhuru Kenyatta was a good guy, but surrounded by bad people.

Opening up on his administration, the president places himself at the heart of the threatre of things in his government.

For instance, when asked if the popular Hustler fund fails to achieve its envisioned outcomes or turns out into a scandal six months down the line, who should take responsibility? He clearly said the public should hold him accountable. In a similar vein, on the discussion on security concerns and perceived extra judicial killings across the country, he left no doubt that he fired top security chiefs from the previous administration.

Deeper insights

This being evidence-based analytical column, it shall be a great disservice to my audience if we do not delve into the deeper policy thoughts that can be inferred from the totality of the discussion. Three important questions may help us to put this into perspective.

One, how different is William Samoei Ruto the president, the presidential candidate prio to August 9 2022 and a key political figure in the Jubilee campaigns and administration? Two, what is the economic philosophy that underlined his key decisions of his first four months in office? Three, what realisitic expectations should the nation form about his administration going forward?

On the first question, assuming the proceedings of the interview is a true reflection of the thinking of his administration, then, I am sorry to announce we must prepare for turbulent days ahead. This is primarily because from the moment a president is sworn into office, his public utterences thereon becomes either actionable policy intents or a confirmation of government position.

Listening to the entire and both versions of the interviews, it was extremely difficulty to distinguish between the three Ruto's highlighted above. In the rosy days of the 2013 and 2017 campaigns, the now president had distinguished himself as the ultimate purveyor of propaganda, misinformation and often outright lies for their campaign and later administration. A similar political rhetoric was manifest in his presidential campaigns last year.

His own deputy had publicly taken up the tag from him until the interview happened. In all fairness, it inspires no confidence that the president would grant such a lengthy first interview and obviously lack facts, details and coherence on critical questions affecting the nation and the people. Take for instance the flip-flopping on the legality and doubts on parliamentary budget approval of the hustler funds. Similarly, the president fabled over the disaster that Galana - Kulalu has turned out to be. He contradicted his views on the project in 2017. Further he couldn't tangibly explain the rationale behind blanket cessation of all subsidies, economic stimulus packages and pre-existing social protection programmes.

While it is true many of the initiatives were infested with corruption, this does not negate the underlying need. Moreover, he failed to commit to take decisive action against those he publicly acknowledged plundered public resources or abused the initiatives for personal gains.

It is instructional to note some of the accused economic saboteurs are now senior officers in his administration or political formation.

One could not fail to wonder what more does he know about these schemes and why doesn't he want to act if it was that bad?

The last two questions are like two co-joined twins. From the proceedings on the night, it confirmed our fears that the administration has been operating at the whims of individuals.

There just is no underlying economic guide, coherence and framework to rally nation towards a unified front. This was the same script and modus operandi of the failed Jubilee administration.

In a nutshell, there can never be a true economic renewal without a clear actional plan for recovery, a decisive will to end the Jubilee looting syndrome and recover their loot, and a believable motion into action. These parameters never emerged in the entire interview.

The sum total of it is that the president remained the vintage political operative we have all along known him to be. It is worse when he seems to have appropriated the church for his administration!