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Ruto moves to centralise propaganda unit

Ruto moves to centralise propaganda unit

By Justus Karanja

Deputy President William Ruto (pictured with Hussein) has moved to centralise his propaganda unit by directing all communication in relation to his presidential campaign be relayed by the new Director of Communications, Hussein Mohammed.

Ruto on January 24 this year appointed Hussein, a veteran journalist as the Director of Communications in his campaigns secretariat.

The ex-Citizen TV journalist joined a team of professionals tasked with running and managing Ruto's communication during his presidential campaigns.

Ruto’s media team includes Dennis Itumbi as the public communications and digital strategist.

Before joining the Ruto brigade, Itumbi was a member of the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit (PSCU).

He served as the Director of Innovation, Digital and Diaspora Communication in the Office of the President before his termination on March 18, 2020.

Itumbi gained prominence for his role in President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto campaign team in the 2013 and 2017 General Election.

 The digital strategist is known for being vocal and straightforward in his approach.

He holds a diploma in Journalism from KIMC. 

Another key figure is Emmanuel Talam, the Director of Communication in the Office of the Deputy President. 

A holder of a Bachelors Degree in Media Studies from the University of Nairobi and a post-graduate diploma from the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication (KIMC), Talam is a journalist by training.

He had a lucrative career at KTN, where he scaled the ladder to become the stations Deputy Managing Editor before he was poached by Ruto.

Talam also worked for the China Central Television (CCTV) as its planning and assignment editor.

Another figure is Wanjohi Githae, formerly correspondent with the Sunday Nation.

Githae was appointed as the Head of Communications at UDA on April 30, 2021. 

Githae was also a reporter at MediaMax before he was laid-off during a restructuring process.

Another figure is Eliud Owalo who is the UDA Deputy Secretary-General in charge of strategy.

He was poached from the Amani National Congress, where he was the head of strategy.

Owalo is a managing consultant and strategic planning specialist.

He holds a Bachelors Degree in Economics from the Kenyatta University and a Masters degree from University of Nairobi.

Currently, he is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Strategic Management at University of Nairobi.

The UDA secretariat member has consulted with both the public and private sectors.

He has designed plans including  African Union (AU's) Agenda 63, Vision 2030, the Big Four Agenda and the East African Corporation (EAC) Vision 2050.

And now there are reports the major casualty in the reorganisation is Itumbi who has been directed to surrender all logging credentials of the Deputy President to Hussein.

The accounts he is to surrender include Twitter, Facebook and instragram.

Itumbi will now be required to forward his posts for approval and posting to Hussein.

The latest tweet Itumbi posted stated the “Hustler Nation Intelligence Bureau (HNIB) agents were verifying a report indicating that Laikipia West MP  Patrick Mariru is an Azimio mole in UDA.

He stated there were reports indicating the MP was on a mission with Laikipia governor Ndiritu Muriithi for UDA to have a weak candidate in the UDA primaries.

The report stated Mariru would withdraw after nominations and would be appointed as Principal Secretary in the Azimio Government.

In reorganising the media team, Ruto was reacting to reports he did not have a proper intelligence agency domiciled within UDA.

The reports stated HNIB was an amorphous organisation with no operational capabilities.

The last time Ruto was seen with Itumbi was late December when he visited him in hospital.

At the hospital, Ruto said Itumbi alleged attackers wanted to kill his spirit.

“Spent time with Comrade DI (Dennis Itumbi) last evening (Tuesday), saw his heavily bandaged arm and legs, the result of torture by people who should have been there to protect him and us all.”

“They have now turned violent and fatalistic after all the negative narratives, threats and blackmail against us failed,” he said.

The Deputy President added that Itumbi was strong and in very high spirits though doctors said he would be confined to bed for a month.

“Like Dennis, we all must be strong knowing that in a few months we will defeat impunity, entitlement, kiburi na madharau (pride and despise) and free our nation for good.”

The comments coming from the man who is second in command of the country were seen to be strong and telling.

He seemed to follow the narrative by most UDA leaders who accused state agents of being behind the incident that happed on December 23.

The vocal blogger has not shied away from attacking senior government officials on several occasions.

Itumbi was abducted as he left a barber shop and later tortured before he was abandoned in Lakisama area, Kasarani, Nairobi.

He had broken hand and his legs were slightly injured after being knocked by hammer, he said.

And since then, there has been blame game from various parties.

The DP’s comments sparked a flurry of replies on his social media accounts from those online.

Police later denied involvement in the incident and wanted to interrogate Itumbi but the blogger declined to record a statement.

But there are reports Itumbi faked the kidnapping to catch the attention of the Deputy President, who was then preparing to bring in Hussein to head his media team.

The blogger has also been put on his defence in the criminal charge over the fake letter alleging a plot to assassinate Ruto. 

Milimani chief magistrate Martha Mutuku placed Itumbi and his co-accused Samuel Gateri on his defence after the prosecution proved its case against them.

“Having analysed the evidence before court I find that the prosecution has proved the case beyond reasonable doubt to warrant the accused to be placed on their defence,” the Magistrate ruled.

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