Has President Ruto Dumped ICT CS Eliud Owalo?

By The Weekly Vision Reporter

The Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Communication, and the Digital Economy, Eliud Owalo, has allegedly revealed to his trusted allies how he has been sidelined by President William Ruto. Sources say the president is replacing him with a trusted ally of Raila Odinga from the Luo Nyanza region. The CS was absent from the recent presidential trip to the US, where his presence as CS for ICT was key.

While on his tour in the United States, the president signed agreements that will see the US government financing data centres throughout Kenya, with billions of Kenyan shillings involved. The United Arab Emirates has also pledged multibillion-dollar financial backing for the ICT department. Interestingly, all these ventures were finalized without the presence of Mr. Owalo.

The president’s engagement with Mr. Owalo has significantly decreased compared to earlier days in his administration. Apart from the US trip, Mr. Owalo has been conspicuously absent in several key strategic meetings, a fact that keen observers may have noticed. Reports suggest that certain individuals within Ruto’s inner circles have meticulously planned the handling of these projects to exclude Mr Owalo from the lucrative deals. 

Analysts also concur that Raila Odinga’s bid for the African Union Commission chairmanship has hurt the relationship between Mr Owalo and President Ruto. The undeniable fact remains that as Raila Odinga increasingly poses a less political challenge to Ruto’s presidency, Owalo’s value to Ruto has fallen sharply. The President is also contemplating making a cabinet shuffle, which may result in Mr Owalo being either dismissed or moved to a less lucrative ministry.

It is worth mentioning that there is a narrative circulating that Mr Owalo has not been successful in countering Raila Odinga in Luo Nyanza, which was anticipated by the Ruto administration.

In every instance and on every occasion, Owalo has refrained from criticizing Mr. Odinga. Among all the cabinet secretaries serving under Ruto, Owalo stands out as the only one who has never spoken ill of Raila Odinga. Based on the aforementioned details, analysts concur that William Ruto exhibits a stronger preference for PS Raymond Omollo over CS Eliud Owallo. 

It is important to note that the CS recently lost his brother, and as a result, there were suggestions about Ruto’s potential participation in the burial. The CS tried to select a convenient burial date that would accommodate the president’s busy schedule and enable Owalo’s colleagues in the cabinet to attend his brother’s burial. 

It was anticipated that the president would have at least conveyed a written message of condolence to be read to the mourners and the Owalo family, which did not happen. It was expected that several of Owalo’s colleagues would opt out of the Madaraka Day celebrations to attend his burial, but this too did not happen. Notably, key government officials, including those from his ministry as well as other government officials, were conspicuously absent. In essence, the government deliberately distanced itself from the burial. 

Nevertheless, despite the circumstances, the CS’s family proceeded with a scheduled burial last Saturday, coinciding with the day when Ruto was leading the nation in commemorating Madaraka Day in Bungoma.

At the burial, Ugenya MP David Ochieng seized the moment to cast blame on the president for the unfulfilled promises he had made during his recent visit to the area. Ochieng did not hold back, openly accusing Ruto of deceiving the Luo community by making empty promises. 

As he took the floor to address the mourners, Nicholas Gumbo, a former aspirant for the Siaya gubernatorial position, conveyed to the UDA leadership that unless Ruto’s pledges to the people of Nyanza are realized, the task of promoting UDA in Nyanza would be a formidable political challenge.