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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 16 November 2014


Political intrigues rock hunt for top vacant IEBC job
The search for the new CEO at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has reached its crescendo following the short listing of nine candidates to replace suspended commission secretary James Oswaggo.
Although Oswaggo was eligible to apply, IEBC sources revealed that he never applied for the job and it is not known why he opted out of the race after the fiasco witnessed during the 2013 general elections marred with a lot of irregularities.
A total of 52 candidates applied for the job but only nine have been shortlisted. According to electoral laws, the commission secretary/CEO holds office for a term of five years but is eligible for reappointment for another term of one year.
Lobbying for the top job is now in top gear with each group angling to have one of their own take over the sensitive and influential position in the electoral process. Political parties are also following the development with keen interest after word leaked out that Jubilee is out to influence the process to favour a candidate who can work closely with the chairman Isaak Hassan.
Politicians and professionals from the larger Kisii region are said to have thrown their weight behind the acting IEBC chief executive Beatrice Nyabuto. She is among nine candidates shortlisted to succeed Oswaggo. She is said to be favoured by the chairman and Jubilee wing now that the Kisii community is slowly trooping out of Cord to Jubilee.
They say she is best suited to replace Oswaggo more so after Ken Nyaundi who is a former commissioner with the defunct Interim Independent Electoral Commission which took over from the Electoral Commission of Kenya. Nyaundi was the only commissioner from the region but failed the interviews when IEBC was formed after promulgation of the new constitution.
From Nyanza, two more have been shortlisted namely Zephania Okeyo and Dickson Omondi. Sources however say that their chances of getting the plum position compared to Nyabuto are slim because they come from the same ethnic background as Oswaggo (Luo).
Others from Luo Nyanza who applied from the job but were not shortlisted include former NSSF managing trustee Alex Kazongo, George Omondi, George Siro, Elizabeth Omollo, Patrick Odame and Simon Omondi. Kazongo is feeling the heat after his multi-million shilling house near Riat area in Kisumu county was advertised for auction. Muhoroni MP, Onyango James K’oyoo, is said to be among those to buy the property.
Nyabuto’s chances are very high considering the fact that the Jubilee administration has been blamed for having neglected the Kisii community despite the region having overwhelmingly voted for Raila Odinga during the last general elections.
Jubilee, through Deputy President William Ruto, has been attempting to woo the Kisii community to decamp from Cord to join Jubilee but the impact is yet to be felt on the ground. So to appease the Abagusii community, chances are high that Nyabuto could land the job.
But those who are opposed to her say for the short time she has been acting, she has not demonstrated that she is up to the task and again, they say the Abagusii community is already having the position of chairman of the Constitution Implementation Commission held by Charles Nyachae.
Others from Abagusii region who applied for the job but were not shortlisted were Stephen Kerosi (Nyamira) and Andrew Ombati.
Another group is said to be lobbying for the appointment of somebody from Rift Valley. Already, two have been shortlisted namely Lawrence Kibet who comes from Baringo, Benjamin Tarus from Nandi and Erastus Ethekon from Turkana.
Eyes are now fixed on Tarus who comes from DP Ruto’s county. Another group is also said to be of the opinion that the next CEO should come from a minority tribe and the name that is being floated is that of Ethekon who is from Turkana.
Others from Ruto’s backyard of Rift Valley who applied for the job but were not shortlisted include Francis Cheptile (Baringo), George Seki (Kajiado), Meitekini Kidong’oi (Narok), Lazarus Chebii (Elgeyo Marakwet) and Jacob Olonginda (Kajiado).
The Luhya community has also not been left behind in lobbying for one of their own to take over the mantle from Oswaggo.
Of the nine shortlisted candidates, there are three from the Luhya community namely Grace Nekoye who comes from Bungoma, Robert Namulungu from Bungoma and Ezra Chiloba from Trans Nzoia.
The last time somebody from the region held position in the electoral body was during the time of the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya where Gabriel Mukele was the vice chairman to the late Samuel Kivuitu.
Others from the region who applied but were never shortlisted were Humphrey Nakitari (Busia), Josephat Nyongesa (Busia), Decimah Isalano (Kakamega) and Patrick Simiyu (Trans Nzoia).
What has also come out as a surprise is that none of the candidates from Uhuru’s Mount Kenya region backyard were shortlisted for the job although a number of them applied for the same. 
Among those who applied but not shortlisted were Joseph Muriithi (Meru), Joseph Gitile (Meru), Evans Gichuki (Nyeri), Sarah Kilemi (Embu), Sheila Wambui and Boniface Gachanja.
Among the regions that are crying foul are Ukambani, North Eastern and Coast where none of the applicants were shortlisted. From Ukambani, - Samuel Mwendwa, Hussein Majan and Juliana Mutisya applied.
From Coast and North Eastern regions, the following applied but never made it to the final list; Adan Hassan (Mandera), Swabra Juma (Mombasa), Amina Hussein (Lamu), Martin Mwario (Kilifi), Ahmed Mbarak (Mombasa) and Abel Ndumbu (Eastern).
But even as lobbying for the top IEBC job continues, Cord through its leaders Raila, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula have said the IEBC should be disbanded immediately and a new team constituted before the 2017 elections.
But the hurdle Raila and his team must scheme well to successfully jump over is the fact that to disband the IEBC, or even remove some commissioners, a petition has to be filed in parliament. If parliament grants the petition, then the president appoints a tribunal to decide the fate of the commissioners.
The big problem is that Cord does not have the numbers to have the matter sail through parliament. It is for this reason that they have now resorted to doing it through the referendum and as to whether they will succeed; only time will tell.

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