Revealed: Key faces behind William Ruto’s victory

President-elect William Ruto assembled an ingenious team of political strategists that crafted his 2022 campaign blueprint that delivered victory in his first stab at the presidency.

Some of the advisers held powerful positions in previous governments while others had worked for Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition flagbearer Raila Odinga in past elections.

The DP formed nine committees under the stewardship of outgoing Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok, who was the director-general of the presidential campaign team.

William Ruto 2022 Presidential Campaigns Director General Joseph Nanok during a press briefing./File | Nation Media Group

They were the presidential campaign steering council, economic advisory, politburo, legal, governance and human rights, diaspora, communication, the United Democratic Alliance leadership structure, and foreign relations.

Committee members worked on strategies, programmes, campaign activities and messaging. The DP hired top economists, political experts, former diplomats, university lecturers, rights activists, and lawyers.

Mr Nanok was mandated to chair and coordinate the activities of all the campaign formations to ensure synergy and coherence. Before joining Dr Ruto’s camp, Mr Nanok was a key ally of Mr Odinga.

Economist David Ndii./File | Nation Media Group

He supported the ODM supremo in the 2007 to 2017 elections but ditched the camp, saying he was side-lined when it came to “handshake” goodies.

“The people behind the DP are hustlers. We have a very big team. The team is assisting him win this election. We are various formations. I head the council and I work with Ababu Namwamba, who is in charge of Foreign Affairs. Prof David Ndii is the head of policy and programs (bottom-up economic model),” said Mr Nanok.

“I also work with all the four senior UDA officials – Johnson Muthama (chairman), Veronica Maina (Secretary General), Odanga Pessa (Executive Director) and Eliud Owalo (deputy secretary-general, strategies).”

The chief executive of the campaign team was former Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir, who is also Dr Ruto’s chief of staff.

United Democratic Alliance secretary-general Veronica Maina./File I Nation Media Group

Mr Chirchir, an information technology (IT) guru, was suspended from the Cabinet in 2015 over corruption allegations. He was Jubilee’s chief agent for the August 8, 2017 General Election and the October 26 repeat presidential poll.

Mr Odinga, who disputed the outcome of both elections, claimed that Mr Chirchir had hacked into the servers of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and manipulated the results.

Other allegations involved inspecting the printing of election materials at a go-down off Mombasa Road. Mr Chirchir never responded to the allegations on his role in the elections.

He was first thrust into public limelight after President Uhuru Kenyatta picked him as his Energy CS during the Jubilee government’s first term. He has also previously served as an electoral commissioner.

Mr Chirchir has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Nairobi and an MBA from the Royal Holloway, University of London.

Former Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir,./File | Nation Media Group

Prof Ndii is the man behind the “bottom-up economic model” on which Dr Ruto anchored his campaigns. He also led the team that coordinated all the county-based bottom-up economic forums that later on developed the 47 county economic charters that led to the Kenya Kwanza manifesto that was launched on June 30.

Prof Ndii co-founded the Institute of Economic Affairs, Kenya’s first independent policy think-tank. He was a key player in development of Kenya’s Economic Recovery strategy in 2002 when the Narc government came to power. He also provided technical support to the 2017 Nasa presidential campaigns before switching sides.

In his committee, Prof Ndii was assisted by Hassan Mohammed, Mr Owalo, Augustine Cheruiyot, Dr Irene Asienga, Dr Robert Muriithi and Dr Crispin Bokea. Mr Owalo also served in the presidential campaign steering council and the politburo.

Ababu Namwamba./File

He was also tasked with spearheading Dr Ruto’s campaign programmes and activities in Mr Odinga’s Nyanza stronghold. In 2013, he was the head of Mr Odinga’s presidential campaigns.

Mr Cheruiyot was the secretary of all Dr Ruto’s presidential campaign formations as well as a member of the economic advisory team. He was also an adviser on food security.

Dr Korir Sing’oei, the head of law and policy at the DP’s office, was handling political and legal affairs, alongside former Law Society of Kenya (LSK) president Nelson Havi. Dr Sing’oei previously worked with Katiba Institute while Mr Kigen was part of the DP’s legal team on the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) case.

Former LSK President Nelson Havi. PHOTO | FILE

There was also Dr Linda Musumba, who was the head of the legal function in the presidential campaign steering council. She is a senior law lecturer at Kenyatta University and has previously served as Chairman of the Board at Great Lakes University, member of the Governing Council of the National Crime Research Centre as well as the Board of Transparency International, Kenya Chapter.

Former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama during a past event. PHOTO | FILE

The governance and human rights caucus was co-chaired by Mr Hassan Omar and Kandara MP Alice Wahome. Its main role is to come up with ways in which the Kenya Kwanza Alliance (KKA) government will respect and safeguard the constitution.

“This caucus is mandated to develop a governance chapter. It will entail enforcement of the Constitution because our opponents are talking about reviving it without implementing it. Our main agenda will be to implement the 2010 Constitution to the fullest. We also believe that any economic model must be backed by good governance,” Mr Omar said.

The communication team is headed by former Citizen TV anchor Hussein Mohamed. It was responsible for overseeing, synchronising and coordinating all communication strategies and activities.

The team members are Prof Edward Kisiang’ani, Mr David Mugonyi, who is the communication secretary in the DP’s office, Mr Emmanuel Talam, the DP’s director of communication and digital strategist Dennis Itumbi.

Mr Itumbi is a former director in the State House communication team. He’s behind The Hustler National Intelligence Bureau (HNIB). Mr Itumbi managed social media accounts for legislators allied to Dr Ruto.

Eliud Owalo, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s former strategist, addresses a meeting of Deputy President William Ruto’s supports at Ciala Resort in Kisumu County on October 4, 2020./Courtesy

Prof Kisiang’ani described the DP as a keen listener, who cherishes the advice of experts. “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,” he told the Nation.

“The DP is a good listener. When you give him an idea, he thinks over it. He responds intelligently and challenges the ideas, he does not just swallow. He does not like sycophancy around him and he is passionate about changing the country.”

Former State House Digital strategist Dennis Itumbi. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

Mr Namwamba heads the international relations docket at the presidential campaign secretariat. Dr Ruto had described him as a person capable of enhancing his feelings at the international community, owing to their close working relationship spanning over 10 years.

“With his considerable diplomatic talent, deep knowledge of the continent, strong network on the global stage and unwavering determination, I am confident in his role to lead the international relations function within my presidential campaign,” said Dr Ruto.

Mr Namwamba offered: “I will deploy all these credentials in driving our foreign policy and segments for the campaign. I want to assure our friends and partners that I will be available to define our policy as a campaign team preparing to form the next government.”
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