Juliana Cherera butt of jokes in online math debate

IEBC Vice-chairperson Juliana Cherera.

IEBC Vice-chairperson Juliana Cherera. She is among four commissioners who have rejected the presidential election results announced by Chairman Wafula Chebukati.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) vice chairperson Juliana Cherera was yesterday hoping to present weighty evidence to the nation on why she and three other commissioners of the polls agency did not agree with Monday’s result of the presidential election.

But that is not what she got.

She had hoped to help Kenyans figure out a problem with the declared presidential results. 

Instead, she became a figure of embarrassment as the figures she mentioned did not add up.

Or, as one Twitter user put it, “her math was not mathing”. This was because the very first reason she offered for not agreeing with the result announced by IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati was that the aggregation of percentages was wrong.

“Take notice that Mr Chebukati’s aggregation was as follows: Raila Odinga, 48.85 per cent; William Ruto, 50.49 per cent; Waihiga Mwaure, 0.27 per cent; Wajackoyah George, 0.44 per cent.”

“This summation gives us a total of 100.01 percent. The 0.01 percent translates to approximately 142,000 votes, which will make a significant difference in the final result,” she said.

She repeated the calculation in her off-the-cuff address in Swahili, meaning it was no slip of the tongue.

Almost immediately, Kenyans pointed out the mistake.

Using the total used to announce the results, hawk-eyed Kenyans discovered that the 0.01 percent she mentioned translated to a hundredth of what she had quoted; that she should have mentioned 1,420 votes rather than 142,000.

And that made her a subject of ridicule as she quickly became a trending topic on social media.

The word “opaque” that she used on Monday as she explained the reason four commissioners distanced themselves from three others was soon used to describe her.

For instance, one an IEBC employee at the Coast took to Facebook in a post titled “Opaque Mathematics 101” to show that the 50.49 percent allocated to Dr Ruto was actually 50.48989 while Mr Odinga’s 48.85 percent was actually 48.84906.

Trending topic

“Truncation error is (a topic in) Form Two mathematics,” the employee posted.

The word “mathematics” quickly became a trending topic on Twitter as jokes flew by.

An edited image of a Grade Three mathematics book was soon circulating, and the face of Ms Cherera was placed in the place of the usual illustration of a girl going up steps. 

And, because Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has been a bit shifty with the opening of schools, one widely circulated image had Prof Magoha alongside text saying he was considering ordering a reopening of schools for people to study mathematics. 

Making light of Ms Cherera’s argument, lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi observed that it can be prosecuted on Twitter.

“CJ Koome should not conduct an open hearing of the Supreme Court to determine the legal consequences of 0.0 per cent on the Presidential results. CJ should order all parties to send their submission of a single tweet of 280 characters and then render a judgement (in) a single tweet,” he joked.

But she had support online, and one of her backers was Embakasi East MP Babu Owino who tweeted: “Why would the total percentage be 100.01 percent which is more than 100 percent? This is wrong.”

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