Dr Fred Matiang’i is today the most visible and vocal of the 20 Cabinet secretaries in the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta and easily one of the few assured of their jobs in the anticipated Jubilee Party’s return to power later this month.
While he has always kept a high profile in all his previous ministerial postings like in the ICT when he ruthlessly led the country from analogue broadcast to digital migration, the current two he holds have propelled him to a higher pedestal earning him the moniker of 'super cabinet secretary' in the last five months.
Silently, some of his colleagues do not like him. They say he makes them look inefficient.
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, then in charge of the colossal Devolution ministry (before it was split into Youth and Public Service and National Planning and Devolution), was the last to enjoy such a status.
She was referred to as 'the prime minister in the Jubilee government' given the influence and power she wielded before her fortunes changed.
When the Sunday Nation sought to find out how Dr Matiang’i runs the two giant ministries, Education and Interior (in acting capacity), at such a crucial time when the country is facing serious security challenges emanating from the disputed presidential election and two national examinations, the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education, interesting tales of a man meticulously dividing his attention to personally oversee operations in both dockets came out.
Since July, it has become routine for him to shuttle between Jogoo and Harambee houses, the offices of the two ministries - Education and Interior - respectively.
Luckily for him, the two buildings are not far apart.
A senior official at the Education ministry said that while much of his attention shifted to preparations for the General Election in August on being appointed in July following the sudden death of Major General (rtd) Joseph Nkaissery, the CS empowered senior directors who are responsible for the day-to-day running of the ministry but frequently consult him on major decisions they make.
Such directors have had to adjust their daily schedules accordingly, sometimes either working very early or late into the night.
"Some of the meetings happen at Jogoo House as early as 5am to allow him to be at Harambee House or State House in good time for national security assignments.
"Having been fairly close to him, I also know that he varies them so that sometimes officers from Interior come to our offices to consult him," the officer said.
There are cases of senior ministry officials have been forced to reach out to him in either of the offices to get authorisation for one urgent matter or the other.
He would not admit it but we also gathered that since July, he has had to forego much of his social life to keep the ministries running.
Owing to temporary incumbency, Mr Kenyatta does not have the powers to appoint a substantive office holder.
Should the Supreme Court uphold his re-election, he will be able to reconstitute his government after being sworn-in.
President Kenyatta’s second victory has been challenged in court.
His first win in August was voided on grounds that the electoral commission violated the law in the August 8 polls.
But it would seem that his appointment to the Security docket has only served to earn him enemies yet increasingly, the CS is demonstrating with much zeal that he is not interested in being a ‘Mr Nice’ to the public as long as the appointing authority is happy.
He has been blamed for the brutal crackdown on dissent after the disputed presidential election that saw opposition chief Raila Odinga pull out of the repeat presidential poll.
Bungoma Senator and co-principal in the Opposition coalition Nasa Moses Wetang’ula has accused the minister of not seeking sound legal advice before making crucial decisions.