Unknown to many, this is now the most powerful man at State House after Uhuru? - Kenya Satellite News Network
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Unknown to many, this is now the most powerful man at State House after Uhuru?

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Nzioka Waita, the head of the Presidential Delivery Unit, has emerged as the new power broker at State House, multiple sources reveal.

Mr Waita also doubles as President Uhuru Kenyatta’s chief of staff, another position that puts him within arm’s reach of the President, having no executive role at the PDU, since it is run by Andrew Wakahiu, coupled with the fact that the role of the chief of staff is not well defined, Mr Waita has found himself with enough room to wiggle his way across government departments. And he has the President’s ear.

Speaking to the Sunday Nation, Mr Waita said power is a matter of perception and he would not be drawn into discussing whether he is powerful or not.

“I am a backroom person. My work is to ensure that the job I have been given is accomplished. I work at the pleasure of the President,” he said.

Since his appointment, Mr Waita has been instrumental in various decisions that have been made since the President’s second term started.

GROWING CLOUT

He co-wrote Executive Order 1, a powerful instrument that determines the duties of each government department.

He is the face of recent demolitions as the chair of the Nairobi Regeneration Committee. He has also been co-opted into the Cabinet and was prominent in Cabinet photos after the last meeting.

He has a refurbished office once occupied by former secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia.

And he has several deputies. Acting PSCU boss Kanze Dena and Government Spokesman Eric Kiraithe report to him, making him the communication boss for the government.

Mr Nzioka has eclipsed Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua and Comptroller of State House Kinuthia Mbugua.

When he was head-hunted from Safaricom to head the newly created Presidential Delivery Unit, Mr Waita perhaps never knew that one day he would be viewed as one of the most powerful people in the Jubilee administration.

POWERFUL MAN

Cabinet secretaries and principal secretaries, as well as parastatal executives, have been dealing with Mr Waita, thus making his reach in government far, wide and deep.

Previously, Mr Kinyua played this role but, as his time in government nears its end, it is Mr Waita who is slowly stepping into his shoes.

When an audio clip of a phone call between governors Mike Sonko (Nairobi) and Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu) over the arrest of the latter’s wife was leaked, an interesting tidbit passed unnoticed.

On the tape, Sonko is heard saying that his hands are tied and that Mr Waititu should call Mr Waita to have his wife released. It was telling that the elected governors were afraid of the unelected Mr Waita and not President Kenyatta.

“He is the new (Hezekiah) Oyugi, though not as powerful as the Moi man,” a source with knowledge of power manoeuvres in the corridors of power said.

The late Oyugi was a powerful permanent secretary in the office of the President at the dawn of multiparty politics in early 1990s.

DEMONSTRATIONS

When importers of Chinese products mounted a demonstration in city streets, shocking the government for their daring act, it was Mr Waita who scrambled a response to address their woes.

He led a high-powered delegation comprising top officers from the KRA, the Anti-Counterfeit Agency and the Kenya Bureau of Standards to meet officials of the Nairobi Importers and Traders Association, a lobby for small traders, in downtown Nairobi.

He promised them that the President was committed to ensuring that their problems with government agencies would end.

When the Kenya Medical Association and the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union opposed the Kenya-Cuba doctors deal, he was again at hand to provide a policy direction over the matter.

He said only experts in areas such as oncology (cancer), nephrology (kidney) and dermatology (skin) would be brought to Kenya.

CUBAN DOCTORS

He defended the Nairobi-Havana deal, saying deploying medical experts to rural areas would reduce the number of patients relying on Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.

In June, High Court Judge Onesmus Makau temporarily stopped the implementation of a circular by the head of civil service on the vetting of procurement officers.

Mr Waita took to Twitter to air what was considered as the Executive position on the matter.

“Whereas the Judiciary shouldn’t be condemned wholesale, from today’s ruling by the Labour Relations Court stopping vetting of public officers, two things are now clear for all to see: 1) Corruption is fighting back 2) Agents of impunity have found refuge in court corridors,” Mr Waita wrote.

“No matter how many obstacles are thrown in the way of this fight against corruption, there will be no relenting. It is my prayer that the leadership of the Judiciary upon whom the country has placed a lot of faith will put its house in order. The fight against corruption will be messy and uncomfortable but it must be done for the greater good of the nation,” he added.

OFFICIAL COMMUNICATION

In July, Mr Waita moved to streamline communication in government by disowning several social media handles and setting the record straight on how information is disseminated.

He disowned @PresidentKE and @PSCU_Digital unit as official Twitter accounts and directed that official accounts would be @StateHouseKenya, @UKenyatta, @FirstLadyKenya and @KanzeDena.

“All official communication originating from the President’s Strategic Communications Unit will strictly be communicated through the listed channels,” he said.

“Operational correspondence by PSCU staff to media outlets will be done through officially assigned president.go.ke email addresses.”

He had also made the announcement that saw Citizen TV anchor Kanze Dena appointed the Deputy State House spokesperson in far-reaching changes made in the Presidential Strategic Communication Unit.

Mr Nzioka joined the government in 2016 from Safaricom, where he was the director of corporate affairs.

-nation.co.ke

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Will Obado get bail today?

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Migori Governor Okoth Obado returns to court today seeking to be released on bail pending trial for the murder of university student Sharon Otieno.

Obado has denied charges of murdering Sharon on September 3 at Kodera Forest in Oyugis, Homa Bay County.

Obado, his personal assistant Michael Oyamo and Migori County clerk Caspal Obiero are jointly chargedwith the murder of Sharon and her seven-month-old foetus, Baby Sharon.

The governor has been in custody since September 22.

Political career

His fate lies in the hands of Lady Justice Jessie Lesiit, who can either rule to release him and his co-accused on bail or send them back to remand.

Should the judge deny them bail, it would compound matters for Obado and further threaten his political career.

Justice Lesiit had declined Obado’s first application for bail on September 27. In his second application, Obado pleaded through lawyers Nicholas Ombija, Cliff Ombeta and Rodgers Sagana for the judge to reconsider her earlier decision.

The lawyers are optimistic that their client will be granted bail this time.

“The main reason he was denied bail was because the prosecution had not supplied the committal bundle and exhibits they will rely on. But since all these have been supplied, there is no compelling reason to deny him bail again,” said Ombija.

Mr Ombija submitted that Obado’s continued detention at Industrial Area Remand Prison had caused him and his family much suffering. He said Obado would not interfere with witnesses if released.

The lawyers said the governor was facing serious health problems that could only be addressed if he was out on bail.

“He has a severe spinal problem, which needs constant medical attention. Since the prosecution has secured all evidence, the governor has no intention of interfering with anyone and will abide by all conditions set by the court,” said Mr Sagana.

Neville Amollo, the lawyer for Oyamo, accused the prosecution of using evidence reserved for trial to deny the accused bail. He urged the court to disregard the materials since they did not constitute any compelling reason to warrant his client’s continued detention.

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Monica murder: GSU officer to become witness

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The General Service Unit officer arrested over the murder of businesswoman Monica Kimani is likely to become a witness.

Police officers investigating the killing of the 28-year-old have concluded that Mr Jennings Orlando, 31, did not visit Monica’s house on September 19.

The officers have visited various places with Orlando as part of their investigations. These include his place of work, at the Recce Squad headquarters in Ruiru, a bar along Denis Pritt Road, a petrol station and the scene of the murder.

TV journalist Jacque Maribe and her fiancé, Joseph Irungu aka Jowie, have denied a murder charge and are expected in court today for the hearing of their bail application.

Orlando was arrested on Thursday and presented in court, which allowed the police to detain him for 14 days. Sources said Orlando was among officers attached to the US embassy and was a member of the Special Programme for Embassy Augmentation and Response.

This is a team composed of GSU officers whose mission is to respond to critical incidents involving US mission facilities and personnel in the country.

Monica’s body was found in a bathtub with her throat slit. The police suspect she had been drugged. The murder weapon has yet to be recovered.

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Traces of cotton left in woman abdomen after operation

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When Irene Joyce Oluoch, 25, got pregnant with twins, she could hardly wait to hold them in her arms.

On the due date, she checked into the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kisumu for a caesarean section.

“l went through the operation and all was well. I was soon discharged from the hospital and was home with my twins,” says Mrs Oluoch.

As she settled down to raising her babies, nothing could have prepared her for the health problems that lay ahead.

Traces of cotton, which had been left in her abdomen, would make her life miserable, and in devastated state.

“After six days, l started feeling a sharp pain in my lower abdomen. At first I thought it was normal to feel pains in the stomach considering I was healing after going through an operation,” says the mother of four.

Her condition got worse and soon she was grappling with a severe and prolonged coughing fit besides intense chest pains.

“I had to go back to the same hospital, where I went through a series of tests that yielded nothing,” she says, adding that she was taken to the intensive care unit when she developed breathing difficulties.

She spent three days at the ICU and another two weeks in the general ward.

“I had severe pains in the lower abdomen, and breathing difficulties, forcing me to use an inhaler. The coughs could last for five minutes, while my body swelled whenever I had a meal. I just couldn’t understand what was happening in my body,” says the second-hand shoe-seller, who had to abandon her source of livelihood because of her ill health.

She adds: “After consulting several specialists in Kisumu, a doctor recommended a CT scan and an examination of the lower abdomen.”

Her husband, Mr Bernard Oluoch, says the specialist was reluctant to reveal to them the results of the scan, “but he finally told us there were traces of cotton in the lower abdomen which needed an urgent surgical operation.”

“We went to the referral hospital with the results, and the doctor in charge scheduled the operation after a month, but it is now seven months since my wife started developing these complications,” says Mr Oluoch. The security guard quit his job to take care of his wife and children.

The couple are asking well-wishers to help them get medical attention.

According to the hospital boss, Dr Peter Okoth, the delay in attending to Mrs Oluoch was caused by the need to investigate the case and check the history of the patient.

“We are arranging to have the patient back in hospital because of the complications that have emerged,” he says.

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