What you need to know:
- Mr Owalo was a close ally of Mr Odinga, until ODM denied him a ticket for the Kibra Parliamentary seat and handed it to the late Ken Okoth
- He comes from Rarieda constituency, Siaya County, a region dominated by the politics of Odingaism.
- He was among the few leaders who went against the Azimio/ODM wave in Nyanza region to campaign for Dr Ruto.
Since he was nominated as Cabinet Secretary for ICT on Tuesday, Eliud Owalo has been the talk of town and on social media in the Nyanza region. He comes from Rarieda constituency, Siaya County, in a region dominated by the politics of Odingaism.
His political ratings are rising, with many residents of Raila Odinga’s stronghold hoping that the position will allow him to bargain for more development projects in the region.
He came into the political limelight in 2013 when he was appointed head of Mr Odinga’s campaign secretariat under the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord).
Mr Owalo was a close ally of Mr Odinga, until ODM denied him a ticket for the Kibra Parliamentary seat and handed it to the late Ken Okoth.
Two years after the 2017 General Election, he quit the Orange party, citing ‘clashing of ideologies’.
In a letter to the Registrar of Political Parties, he said his political ideology, convictions and beliefs did not match those of ODM.
“Consequently, there is no iota of enthusiasm remaining in me to warrant my continued stay in [ODM] … I, therefore, request that you facilitate the instant removal of my name from the ODM … Membership Register,” he wrote.
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He was among the few leaders who went against the Azimio/ODM wave in the region to campaign for Dr Ruto.
Politicians who campaigned for Dr Ruto were labelled traitors by some Odinga allies, but now, if MPs approve Mr Owalo for the CS position, he will become the most senior person from the region in the government.
Mr Owalo was on the presidential campaign steering council and deputy secretary-general of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) responsible for policy and strategy.
He works with others like former Migori governor Okoth Obado, Nicholas Gumbo and Jack Ranguma as Dr Ruto’s point men in Luoland.
Mr Owalo holds an undergraduate degree in economics and business studies from Kenyatta University and an MBA in human resource management from the University of Nairobi (UoN). He is a PhD candidate in strategic management at UoN.
Speaking after being nominated, Mr Owalo said he was ready to serve Kenyans and help President Ruto deliver on his campaign pledges.
“This is an opportunity for me to serve my country and to help the President deliver on the promises that we made to Kenyans. There is no greater honour than to serve one’s country,” he said.
“I promise to be responsive to the needs of Kenyans and to serve selflessly with diligence and efficacy.’
He boasts two decades of experience as an economist, management consultant and strategy expert.
He is expected to offer insight and direction in the digital economy in a country considered among the market leaders in Africa.
He appealed to Nyanza residents to embrace the new government.
“As one of the leaders from Nyanza who went ahead of the rest, I am ready to be the bridge and will not lock the door for others who may decide to join us later,” he said.
Mr Owalo said civil servants from the community have no reason to panic and should discharge their duties as usual.
“Dr Ruto was with Raila in 2007 and he fought for him until the last minute. As our fellow Nilote and a neighbour, we should not fear, as the Kenya Kwanza manifesto, which factored all parts of the country, will be implemented to the letter,” he said recently.