Ezra Chiloba: My tormentors stand with me in private
Shortly after his lengthy interview two weeks ago on the show hosted by Jeff Koinange, Ezra Chiloba received an interesting text message on his phone.
It was from a senator from western Kenya who worked with the government of President Daniel arap Moi and who was, like the chief executive of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, a divisive figure.
“He sent me a very encouraging message, to the extent that he related my experience to his own experience. He told me that as long as my conscience is clear, I should keep on fighting, which was somewhat encouraging,” said Mr Chiloba.
The lengthened electioneering period has left him amazed.
While politicians have been calling for his dismissal, they are supportive when they talk to him, encouraging him to stay on.
He thinks the greater effect has been on his friends, some of whom he says have joined those condemning him.
Mr Chiloba said he has also had people, from both the opposition and supporters of the government, bring messages of goodwill to his office at Anniversary Towers, urging him not to give up.
Two of the more interesting events happened a few weeks ago.
The first came two days to the reading of the detailed judgment annulling August 8 poll when someone called and said Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga was waiting for him.
“Apparently, someone had organised a meeting between the two of us, which meeting I was never aware of and so I called him to tell him I had not planned any meeting but if he had any issues, we could discuss over the phone and we went through most of those issues around the minimum demands and the need for political commitment to ensure the (repeat) election happens,” he said.
The other was about two weeks ago.
He had had a long meeting preparing for the elections and was leaving his office at about 1.30am when he found a man and a woman waiting at the reception.
The man is a son of a former MP close to the Nasa leadership and he wanted to take him to meet one of the Nasa principals.
Given the lateness of the hour and the vague manner in which the man and the woman spoke, he declined the invitation, unsure whether the principal would be sitting up somewhere that late in the day waiting for him.
He has also come to see the dilemma opposition MPs from the western region are in, torn between supporting a young man from their home and the push by their political coalition to put him out of a job.
“They privately pass messages for the CEO to stay and consider everything else as political,” said Mr Chiloba.
“They say, ‘You stay. You are our own. There is nobody who is going to fight you. Let’s see how we will deal with our own affairs internally’,” said Mr Chiloba.
It is also the same case with his contemporaries, people like Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma, who was a year ahead of him at the University of Nairobi’s School of Law.
With that group, the insistence is that it would not be proper to destroy the career of a young person.
“Everyone who is a politician will tell you that the rest is politics,” he added.
He gets philosophical when it comes to the question of how to take it when someone seeks to have you sacked and destroy your career yet explains that away as being necessary in the game of politics.
“They say politics knows no morals… since I occupy a politically sensitive office, that is expected. It’s really me. It depends on myself. How do I take that? If I see it as a way of destroying my career, I will have started a path towards self-destruction but if I see it as an opportunity, I see it as an opportunity to grow. So, no regrets at all,”
“The only unfortunate thing that is happening is that I see lots, lots of ordinary citizens and friends who tend to change about myself, about me, based on claims that are not factual about myself. I’m more concerned about my friends,” he said.
He has also come to learn, he says, that politics has his its own rules, and the politicians are also human beings with feelings.
“Once you distinguish that, you just have to find your place. For me, being faithful to the law as far as my work is concerned is very important. Knowing very well that a lot of work will be politicised and also be misinterpreted because of the competing political interests, but at the end of the day I just have to do my job,” he added.
With the repeat election five days away, one of the candidates having withdrawn informally and the push to remove him still on, he says “It shall come to pass.”
He doesn’t see himself doing another five years and presiding over another election.
“It’s intense work. For health reasons, you wouldn’t want to do that again,” he said.