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I’m tired of IEBC noises, farming is more peaceful – Chiloba

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Suspended IEBC chief executive Ezra Chiloba has embarked on agribusiness at his rural home in Trans Nzoia.

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Journalists who visited Mutua village in Kwanza constituency on Friday found Chiloba busy tilling his land.

“Don’t think Chiloba is idle. I’m busy in the village. I have much peace here. I am so tired of the noises out there. My target is to transform this piece of land into something more productive,” he said.

The CEO, often seen in dark suits during press conferences in Nairobi, said he bought the farm seven years ago.

He said the property had been idle because he was busy with last year’s controversial elections over which many Opposition leaders demanded his resignation.

“I bought this land in 2011 but I had not put it to proper use because I was busy with the planning of the 2017 elections. This is the right time to make it useful,” he said.

Suspended IEBC chief executive Ezra Chiloba works on his farm in Mutua village of Kwanza constituency, Trans Nzoia county, during a visit by journalists on April 20, 2018. /CORAZON WAFULA

“MODEL FOR FARMERS”

On the farm, Chiloba has planted 600 stems of passion fruit, 500 tissues of culture banana, 100 avocado and 3,400 coffee trees.

The CEO, who spent most of his time in Nairobi after completing university education, said the farm will be for agribusiness activities.

“I want to make the farm a model for the community. My desire is to make residents transform their lives through agribusiness instead of relying on maize which has become valueless and frustrated farmers.”

On the expansive farm, he intends to plant more than 4,000 tree seedlings. Some are already surrounding his compound.

To give back to the society, Chiloba has partnered with the county government and initiated a water project targeting two schools and more than 4,000 people in the area.

Though farmers in the county have enough land, he argues, it has not been put to good use to end poverty.

“We have enough land in the county but it has not been utilised well. There is need for residents to exploit opportunities in agribusiness. This will transform their lives,” he said.

Many farmers, he noted, have concentrated on maize farming despite poor returns so prices are not encouraging.

“Our farmers have to move away from maize dependency and into other options. The national and county governments have to support farmers in weed and pest control. Storage facilities should be provided,” he added.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati suspended Chiloba on April 9 “because of procurement issues” According to sources within the commission, Chebukati wants a number of issues investigated while Chiloba is away.

The two have not had a cordial working relationship since the CEO resumed work this year.

The Opposition has demanded Chiloba’s removal, saying he rigged the bungled August 8 election, in which Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner.

Suspended IEBC chief executive Ezra Chiloba works on his farm in Mutua village of Kwanza constituency, Trans Nzoia county, during a visit by journalists on April 20, 2018. /CORAZON WAFULA

COURT BATTLES

The CEO’s next moves are uncertain but he said before that he would not resign. This was his position amid a raging stalemate last year.

Chiloba’s colleagues – Vice chair Consolata Nkatha, Paul Kurgat and Margaret Mwachanya – resigned on April 16. Terming the Chairman a bad leader, they said the removal of a CEO is a weighty matter.

Chiloba went to court over his suspension but in a ruling on April 13, the High Court declined to issue orders to reinstate him back to work. Justice Steve Radido said Chiloba will not suffer any prejudice if he serves the three months compulsory leave.

The CEO has submitted his response to this ruling.

The Labour and Employment Relations Court also upheld the decision to send Chebukati on compulsory leave.

At his farm, he said he was awaiting the outcome of the audit at the commission. If found culpable, he will not return to work.

Should Chiloba wish to quit, he will have to submit his resignation letter to the Chairman.

Meanwhile, Luhya leaders have continued to condemn the rift in Chiloba’s relationship with Chebukati.

Trans Nzoia Speaker Joshua Werunga said: “The two are our sons. Why are they fighting? This position was meant for the Luhya community. If the body is disbanded we will not get the appointment again.”

the-star.co.ke

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