Colonel (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna, the former Kenya Defence Forces spokesman who gave the Somali military incursion a human heart by revealing to Kenyans the joys and tears of the men in the battlefield, is elated to be back in public service.
“It’s a pleasure to be appointed to communicate on behalf of the government. This is a job I look forward to executing with desire,” he told Nation on Tuesday after ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru announced his appointment.
Known for his eloquence and mastery of both English and Swahili languages, Col (Rtd) Oguna served as the KDF spokesperson from 2011 to 2014, a period when the military recorded the highest advances in Somalia.
Once a highly secretive organisation, Col (Rtd) Oguna became the face of the war when he frequented radio and TV stations to paint a picture of what was happening in Somalia.
Through the KDF Public Information Office, the officer also organised trips for journalists to travel to Somalia to cover the war and more often than not, took jibes at Al-Shabaab militants spreading propaganda about the war on various social media platforms.
“Through his efforts, we came to understand that soldiers also bleed and cry for their loved ones. With his appointment, there is certainly hope for government communication,” Mr David Osiany, a governance expert and board member of Chemelil Sugar Company, said on Tuesday.
But after his posting to the Kenyan High Commission in Tanzania in 2014 as a defence attaché, the coverage of the war in Somalia and other military activities witnessed a lull, with the men who took after him preferring to keep quiet even in moments of great triumph and during calamities.
“My work entailed security and military advisory to the High Commission. I worked there for three years,” Col (Rtd) Oguna said.
The men who have served as KDF spokespersons since his departure are Col Willy Wesonga, Col Joseph Owouth, Col David Obonyo and incumbent Paul Njuguna, a friendly, warm but media-shy colonel.
After serving as the defence adviser, Col (Rtd) Oguna was posted to the National Defence College (NDC). At the NDC he served as the head of the course that he was undertaking.
Col (Rtd) Oguna was fished out of the NDC to replace Mr Eric Kiraithe as the government spokesperson.
He comes to office with an expanded mandate as compared to his predecessors, Mr Kiraithe and Dr Alfred Mutua. The latter is the governor of Machakos County.
“Colonel (Rtd) Oguna shall have oversight role on all Government of Kenya communication channels under the Ministry of ICT. These include; Directorate of Information and all County and Sub-County Information officers, Department of Public Communication and all the officers seconded to various ministries and government agencies, National Government Communication Centre (NGCC) and the Government Media Centre, currently located on the 11th floor of Telposta Towers,” Mr Mucheru announced.
He added that Col (Rtd) Oguna will have content oversight role over Kenya News Agency and MyGov.