Chilo-Bye: Party on Friday, kicked-out on Monday

Last week on Friday night was Sherehe on Waiyaki Way, at the Communications Authority of Kenya’s headquarters. The board and staff had a party, breaking into sweats, and only metaphorically, breaking a leg. On account of the testimony of those who experienced the night, it was worth every sweat. But, there was a different sweat building up for Ezra Chiloba, the Director-General.

Though the weekend started on a shake-a-leg note, Monday was not the usual shake-off-the-blues day at the offices that have a huge world globe at the centre of a fountain. There was a board meeting, which lasted into nightfall, and then, to ice the cake baked through the day, an internal Memo was sent out to staff, signed off by the Chairperson of the Board, Mary Wambui Mungai. It was titled “Appointment Of Mr. Christopher Wambua as Director General In Acting Capacity”.

This is the kind of ‘Breaking News’ on work email that makes one, while possibly at home spending family time, or cutting up a CBC assignment, to drop out of ‘their’ homework, and attend to work at home.

The sweat earlier mentioned in this report resurfaces here. The man who comfortably stands at more than 6 feet, was on Friday seemingly enjoying an advance farewell party-of-sorts, with the Board, just hours to putting his job on the path to going 6 feet under.

Ms Mungai, or Wambui wa Ruto, as she is also referred to, mentioned Chiloba’s fate in passing, without a single mention of his name, as she announced the new office-holder.

The memo read, “Following a meeting of the Authority’s Board held on 18th September 2023, resulting in the suspension of the Director General, I am pleased to inform all staff of the appointment of Mr Christopher Wambua as a Director General in Acting Capacity effective today until further notice”

That was the meat of the memo, with questions sandwiched in between, and speculations of politics and boardroom battles, which saw the man previously referred to as ‘ChiloBae’ now transitioning to ‘ChiloBYE’.

His suspension, which sources indicate was not a surprise to Chiloba, caught even the Principal Secretary, Edward Kisiangani, unaware. The Broadcasting and Telecommunication PS, while on Citizen TV, said he was not privy to the details of this high-level suspension.

The PS went on to point out that he is expecting a report from the board on the suspension, and he “will see the details which forced them to take that decision, and I have the authority to reverse [the decision] if I think that it is not done in the right way.”

But, this has served to raise eyebrows, and concern, as to what happened.

More eyebrows are raised by the revelation that two other PSs who are part of the Board, or have alternate representatives, were unaware of such a significant development.

Are your eyebrows high enough? Well, the drama at CA may just increase the elasticity, so bear with the folks there – they seem to be going through a lot.

In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, a document emerged online indicating that Chiloba was on the roasting grill because of alleged corruption.

The Report Of The 9th Special Board Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (BARAC) meeting appears to be the basis of the mood turnaround at CA between the Friday night partying and Monday night’s developments — it seems to have been the dance before the dirge.

The report’s findings will push your eyebrows closer to your hairline.

Chiloba’s cross carried the weight of various sins. One, he allegedly applied for a mortgage facility and approved it himself — the verdict of the BARAC: This was conflict of interest. Then, the committee says he purchased a house and a 7-acre piece of land, yet the limit is set for one acre.

The committee also found that loan applications were being approved by junior staff, and without evidence, and Mr. Ezra Chiloba Simiyu allowed it, and it has gone on the Authority’s record as lack of due diligence on his part.

Chiloba also, by the BARAC’s findings, allowed CA to repay a Sh25m mortgage payment to a firm where he is the sole director and shareholder – and this value has allegedly been exaggerated by 64.47% – the Committee says it is worth Sh16.72m

And, the now-suspended DG is accused of gross misconduct, with the attribution of this being his acting in breach of code of ethics as the Authority’s accounting officer.

Chiloba, who by now is adjusting to life outside his posh CA office, is likely to have seen this coming. Sources who would only speak to NTV if they were robed in the cloak of anonymity, say there have been frosty relations between Chiloba and Chair Mary Mungai, who has allegedly been keen on frustrating the DG; they have not had the most cordial relation since she joined the Authority in December 2022.

The suspension is believed to be the tough and bold Mary Wambui Mungai stamping her authority, and winning the battle which she has, by our sources’ claims, partly won on account of having Chiloba branded as an Uhuru-man — people who are seen to be allies or foot-soldiers of the former president are being shown the door, in various high offices in government, as the Kenyatta-Ruto war persists, and as the Kenya Kwanza Administration moves to have full control of state agencies with loyalists and aligned individuals.

How close are your eyebrows to your hairline now? If they are yet to cross the line, we will spare you, for now, let them return to base for a bit. But, we shall revive the northwards elevation when we reveal the dynamics in the boardroom battles, and political posturing that surround the leadership and control of CA.

These battles and ego-wars may give you a long face, by simultaneously having your jaw racing for the floor, and eyebrows chasing your hairline.

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