Chebukati’s last words to Kenyans as he exits IEBC
Wafula Chebukati's tenure as chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEB) expired on Tuesday, January 17, after six years at the helm.
Chebukati maintains that he leaves the commission with his head high despite the controversy surrounding the last presidential election which the opposition claims was mismanaged by the IEBC boss.
In a statement on Wednesday morning, Chebukati said he served the country to the best of his ability and in accordance with the oath of office he took despite what he termed as an "undoubtedly challenging assignment".
Thanking Kenyans for the opportunity to serve, Chebukati noted that he leaves the IEBC with solid governance structures and a stable permanent secretariat.
"I was appointed Chairperson of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on 18th January 2017 for a constitutional term of six years. Yesterday I successfully completed my term.
I wish to thank Kenyans for giving me the opportunity to serve them. It has been an honor," Chebukati said.
"It was undoubtedly a challenging assignment, but I served my country to the best of my ability and in accordance with the oath of office I took."
He described IEBC staff as true heroes for their dedication and sacrifices and urged those who will come after him to uphold rule of law for the success of the electoral body.
"To the IEBC staff, thank you for working tirelessly and with dedication despite difficult circumstances at times. You are the true heroes," he added.
"To the future Commission, fidelity to the law is the key to success at IEBC. God bless IEBC. God bless Kenya."
Chebukati exits office alongside commissioners Abdi Guli and Boya Molu who were also appointed to the commission in 2017.
He issued the statement hours after handing over exit report to President William Ruto at State House, Nairobi.
Chebukati and the other two outgoing commissioners presided over the Post Election Evaluation forum on Monday, January 16.
During the forum, the commissioners recounted their harrowing experience during the tallying of presidential election results last August.
Guliye said he, CEO Marjan Hussein Marjan and commissioner Molu had to go into hiding for three days due to intimidation and harassment meted on them by “external forces” immediately after the declaration of the presidential election results.
“I recall going into ‘Siberia’ in my own country together with commissioner Molu and Marjan. We went into hiding; we left our phones at Bomas, sent away our security and drove to an unknown location in a (Toyota) Noah. We used to rely on television news to know what was happening in the country,” Guliye said.
However, Chebukati said he spent three days waiting for a knock on his door.“In the end, no one came,” he said, causing laughter by revealing that he was indoors taking tea all that time.
Guliye told the forum that the chaos at Bomas of Kenya before and during the declaration of the presidential election results laid bare the tribulations they were facing at the hands of State officials.
“It has been six years of trials and tribulations. We recall the clean-slate slogan in the BBI, meaning the entire IEBC commission (had to go) but it didn’t come to pass. We recall the Bomas drama, some objects were flying left right and centre and some even injured us,” Guliye recalled.
IEBC commissioners went into hiding
Immediately after Chebukati announced the presidential results, the two commissioners and CEO went to an undisclosed location for safety.
“These were very trying moments. We were suffering for doing what we were supposed to do,” he said during the event presided over by Attorney General Justin Muturi. “We even had personal tragedies; some of us had miserable tragedies inflicted on us, our families and children but we surmounted all those through courage, dedication and devotion to God.”
Chebukati said he was happy with the way he and his team had steered the electoral body. “I exit a very contented man, and I say we gave it our best. We weathered the storms that threatened the existence of the commission, we endured relentless fatigue in our preparation for the election. We mastered high courage to overcome the perils of democracy and we delivered the sacred will of the people of Kenya.”
On the challenges facing the commission, Chebukati called for timely funding every financial year. “The commission is expected to be funded within the five-year electoral cycle but this doesn’t happen, we normally get funding the last election year. This hinders electoral activity.”
Among the major challenges that the commission faced included intimidation, profiling and even abduction of its staff.
Guliye said he was proud of his tenure at the commission, adding that he leaves office satisfied with the contributions he made during his tenure. He said his stay in office had been rewarding despite the challenges. “We upheld our oath of office and the rule of law at all times. As I leave office I am satisfied I did my best for my country and my people. I leave IEBC stronger and better than I found it.”
Chebukati pointed out that the actions of the National Security Advisory Council (NSAC) worked to undermine the independence of the poll agency by pushing for the moderation of election results.
He said that the outcome of the inquiry IEBC had asked the President to initiate will be vital for strengthening democracy and protecting the stature of the electoral agency, which is mandated to safeguard the will of the people.
“The gravity of these attempts to subvert the will of the people cannot be wished away or swept under the carpet because they might re-emerge in the future,” he said. “It (the inquiry) will enable a future election environment devoid of manipulation, profiling and harm of commission staff while discharging their duties.”
In an affidavit filed at the Supreme Court, Chebukati listed the then Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua among top government officials who tried to approach him to have him alter the election results.
He said in the affidavit that NSAC members went to see him and other commissioners at the national tallying centre, and asked him to ensure a runoff if he could not declare Azimio-One Kenya candidate Raila Odinga the outright winner in the 2022 presidential election.
Kinyua, who chaired NSAC, has since denied the allegations.
Chebukati further claimed that the powerful committee made an offer if he agreed to moderate presidential election results to force a run-off.