IEBC’s failure to hire me is the key reason for glitches

Mwalimu Andrew

I was so sure that the IEBC had learnt its lessons and that this year, they would look for experienced people like me.

Photo credit: John Nyaga | Nation Media Group

Those of you who know me will tell you that I am a big resource to Mwisho wa Lami and its environs. A big one. From being a secretary in dowry negotiations, treasurer and chairperson of wedding committees, emcee at harambees, funerals and weddings, I am one of the most sought-after people. Even the government knows that.

That is why in the last few elections, and census, I have been a key official. In 1999, I was a census enumerator, and served as a polling clerk in 2002. In 2009, when my deputy was a census enumerator, I was a census supervisor and my deputy reported to me — which is historic.

If you remember, in the 2010 referendum and 2013 elections, I was a deputy presiding officer and presiding officer respectively. Despite being asked, I declined to participate in the 2017 General Election as I was the chief campaigner for one of the MP candidates. Many people do not know this but my absence in IEBC had a big impact on Kenya and the economy at large. The commission lacked experienced people who could hold the hand of the chair, Mr Wafula Chebukati, who was handling an election for the first time. It is no wonder that the election ended up in court and a re-election was ordered.

I was so sure that the IEBC had learnt its lessons and that this year, they would look for experienced people like me. I made it clear this year that I would not be campaigning for anyone as I wanted to assist IEBC conduct free and fair elections. I know there are those who will remind me that earlier in the year, I attempted to contest to be an MP for Mwisho wa Lami, but these people will not tell you that in 2007, Mr Chebukati contested to be an MP, losing at the party nominations stage.

Given my experience, my geopolitical knowledge of Mwisho wa Lami and its environs, my expertise in electoral matters and my credibility, I was sure IEBC would want me on their side. And not just for a small job like a polling clerk or presiding officer.

Returning officer

Although I knew that I am qualified to be a county returning officer, and over-qualified to be a constituency returning officer, I applied for deputy county returning officer and deputy constituency returning officer. I was sure I would get at least one of them.

My qualifications spoke for themselves. I know the constituency and county like the back of my hand and most of the teachers who would serve as clerks and presiding officers are people I knew well. Besides, I am the most digital-savvy person around. Not only do I remain the only teacher who owns a laptop, but I am on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp – where I serve as an admin of many groups, telegram , TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram. 2022 being a digital year, the IEBC requires someone who is digital-first in his approach, and who is at home with all digital platforms.

I typed my application letters on my laptop and went to Kakamega to have them printed. Unlike other people who have one CV and one application letter for every job, I had different letters and CVs for both jobs. While the application letter was a one-pager, the CV for the constituency job was four pages while the one for the county job had eight pages.

To my shock and awe, the people at the county did not even respond to me. For the constituency, I am reliably informed that the current HM did everything to block me.

Having not applied to the lower positions, I ended up not serving in any post.

A weak man would have spent time regretting and disappointed. I did not do that, for I knew that God did not want me to participate in an election that may not go on well. As an agile person, I immediately knew that my job on election day would be to vote, and later on, provide analysis and insights to Hitler’s patrons.

When I went to vote, I could see a lot of problems at the polling station: problems that would never have happened with me in charge. The clerks looked tired, they were not well organised, one was on the phone throughout, and there were so many agents. It is no wonder we were taking too long to vote!

In the evening, we all met at Kizito’s home to follow the results. I had told everyone that we would start receiving results by 5.30 p.m. There was nothing by 6 p.m.

“Had IEBC given me the job, the results would be streaming in by now,” I said. “Voting closes at 5pm. and counting starts immediately, then the presiding officer simply announcers and posts the results. What is so difficult about that?”

Lamu results

We started seeing the results at around 7 pm. Even then, they were results from far-flung areas like Lamu.

“We are interested in the Mwisho wa Lami result. Why are they showing us Lamu results?” Wondered Alphayo. He added that if I was an election official, they would have gone to sleep knowing their MCA, MP, and governor.

“In fact, if you were there, we would have voted for the Kakamega governor,” added Nyayo, wondering how no one in IEBC could tell the photos of the Kakamega governor candidates. “This is something Dre would have easily seen as he knows the candidates.” The results came in slowly and as the night went on, Kizito told us that he was receiving many results on Twitter and WhatsApp. He told us many candidates had lost the elections and added that we would know the president-elect by Wednesday morning.

By Wednesday midday, we did not know the winner of the presidential vote, and secondly, a lot of people that Pius had said would lose had won.

“Such problems would never have arisen with me at the IEBC,” I told Kizito. Even by Thursday morning, we had not known the winner of not just the presidential vote but also in many other positions. In 2022!

I am not bragging but unless the IEBC listens to the voice of reason and hires experienced people like me, expect more delays and other glitches in 2027!