The recent disruption of classes at the University of Eldoret in Uasin Gishu was caused by local leaders who incited students to go on strike as a weapon to fight those viewed as outsiders by the vice chancellor.
The same scenario has been replicated at Moi University whereby locals and a section of students are used to cause disharmony in order to have fingers at the top leadership at the universities.
University of Eldoret was first closed in February 2015 when Senator Isaac Melly led politicians including ward rep Caroline Chepkosgey from Uasin Gishu county into a demonstration demanding for the removal of the vice chancellor on allegations of nepotism, tribalism and “intentionally ensuring that students from the local community fail their exams”.
It is claimed the nominated MCA resorted to use the demonstrations to revenge against the VC in pretence that the VC was mismanaging the university by employing and promoting only her relatives and people from her ethnic community among other unfounded allegations after investigations from Commission for University Education revealed that she had been expelled from the institution due to exam cheating.
The same statements were also echoed by the senator who claimed that VC Akenga had brought the whole village from where she hails in Western to occupy the University of Eldoret. The senator has a direct conflict of interest since his mother Esther Kebenei works in the university. His other relatives employed during the tenure of the current VC include; Carren Singoei, Cleophas Jepkorir and Samoei Kipchirchir. One wonders how genuine the senator’s concerns are when his family members are the immediate beneficiaries of Akenga’s tenure.
During a recent visit to the institution, Akenga told the senate committee of increasing resistance against her since she joined the university in 2013. Local leaders organised demonstrations to block her from taking over the university leadership despite being competitively recruited. It took the intervention of Education ministry to enable the VC to assume office.
She said she had improved the learning environment and the administration of the institution over the past two years, despite not being warmly welcomed, and intensified sabotage from some members of university management who are representing powerful politicians in government.
Our sources at the institution also revealed that the said MCA among other leaders, including the Uasin Gishu county governor and senator have accused the VC of altering student marks to make them fail.
It is emerging that before the university graduation in 2014, some students were found to have colluded with a member of staff a one Daniel Tarakwet to change their marks in the courses they had failed.
A senior staff in the ICT department while on routine check-up of the system realised a user had logged into the Enterprise Resource Programme, a tamper proof system to falsify facts. The ICT staff inquired from the director of ICT if he had given approval for the said activity and in the process, Tarakwet escaped the hook.
The matter was reported to the university council and the names of students involved in the racket were removed from the graduation list. The students have since been summoned to write statements on the malpractice and even appeared before the senate committee on student disciplinary.
Our investigations have shown that 163 cases of altered marks were discovered and connected to 47 students who were disqualified from graduating mainly from the local community not as it was being alleged by the leaders who have been on the forefront in demanding for the removal of the embattled VC.
In a classic case of the hunter becoming the hunted, the matter seemed to have affected students mostly from the local community which infuriated the students who called on their local leaders to take action, shifting the blame to the VC on grounds that she was targetting them.
In April 2015 when students were being cleared to contest for various posts, Edwin Koech who was interested in entertainment docket had his marks changed to enable him meet the threshold of 60pc.
Efforts to punish Anderson Koech, the head of department agricultural extension who was allegedly responsible for altering the marks were met with stiff resistance. The matter is still pending at Eldoret Police Station and police have launched a manhunt for the suspect. It is said Tarakwet was living big because of the money he was allegedly making fraudulently from students who sought to be assisted and have their marks falsified.
Our investigations have also shown that some members of the management are holding their positions without due diligence. To be specific, one Koech, registrar of administration has clocked his retirement age but still does not want to relinquish his position since he has been placed there by some powerful members of the executive in the ministry of Education who keep on protecting him.
Koech unsuccessfully contested for the post of MP for Kapsaret constituency in 2013 but flopped in the party nomination stage. When the university advertised for various posts of registrars, he was invited like other contestants for interviews and emerged third. No explanation was given as to why the candidate who emerged first was not picked, but insiders tell us he did not come from the correct ethnic group. At 62 years, he is meant to have retired like other civil servants but his close links with a top officer in the ministry of Education has enabled him to continue discharging his duties with impunity.
Hosea Sitienei, the finance officer is also serving despite having clocked 64 years. Close sources say that the cartel has even gone to the extent of intimidating the university council which appears desperate to act.
Sitienei worked as managing director of Kenya Seed Company before moving back to University of Eldoret as a finance officer. It is said he brought Kenya Seed Company to its knees before he left as a millionaire. Sources from Moi Universitya also reveal that Sitienei was in fact, rejected when he went to Moi from the Kenya Seed Company. He was removed from Kenya Seed as the MD when William Ruto was the then minister for Agriculture. Ironically, Hosea still earns hefty perks just as he used to when he was the MD at the Kenya Seed.
It also claimed Ezekiel Kiprop, the DVC administration and finance secretly altered an advertisement on the qualifications of academic staff to be promoted at the University of Eldoret.
He allegedly changed the qualification requirements set by the university council during the advertisement to suit his local men but it was nullified by the university council. Prof Kiprop went ahead and pinned the said advert on the notice boards asking people to apply.
It is also emerging senior managers at the University of Eldoret were involved in the financial scandal of processing and withdrawing a whopping Sh10 million from the university accounts without the approval of the senate. These large amounts were meant to pay a contractor who is working on projects at the university.
It is said the DVC Prof Sitienei and another staff colluded to process the withdrawal of the Sh10 million. It is further said that they went ahead and withdrew money from the varsity development account and on discovering the account did not have enough money, they went ahead to withdraw from the varsity main account affecting the running of the campus.
The day they withdrew the cash, the VC had already resumed from a week’s leave and was in the office. To avoid suspicion, they directed a staff in the office of the finance officer to pick the cheque from the main account to the university and drop it to the two who were waiting at a bank in Eldoret.
The finance officer, it is said, was on leave at the time of signing for the money to be withdrawn and that is the reason he only sent for the cheque to be brought to him at the bank, something that raised eyebrows. It seems the two officers were in a rush to withdraw the money before the end of year, sources say. Each of them, Hosea and Prof Kiprop, received a token of Sh200,000, it is said.
The VC came to learn of the issue when important payments were to be made and only realised the main account to the university did not have enough funds. On inquiry, that’s when it emerged that a large amount of money had been withdrawn. Prof Akenga moved with speed to notify the university council which questioned the manner in which the money was withdrawn without due process. It is said the parties involved were summoned and served with letters to show cause and warnings issued to them.
This issue led to the university being unable to pay suppliers and staff salaries which could be one of the reasons and traps Prof Kiprop and Hosea wanted to use to ground the university operations then use the same to oust her out of office on the pretext of mismanagement as it was alleged. But since their being in office is to serve the interests of some high and mighty shadows, no disciplinary action could be taken against them.
In another serious case, just before the unrest and demonstrations that rocked the University of Eldoret, intelligence reports from the security committee head office in Nairobi were sent to CID officials in Eldoret with a list of individuals within the university who were deemed to be behind the chaos at the university.
The letter read: “The staff members listed have vowed to disrupt learning in the institution until Akenga is removed as VC. Leaders in Uasin Gishu county are planning to mobilise the public to join a demonstration to support efforts by Melly to eject Akenga from office over allegations of nepotism and tribalism. It is dated February 25 2015.
Even with this directive from the head office for the individuals to be investigated and appropriate action taken against them, none of them has been investigated and yet they got involved in the planning and execution of the demonstrations that saw the university closed.
The recent student demonstration was triggered by alteration of students’ fee balances in the ERP system by a staff in finance department. In some cases, some student claimed a refund of Sh3 million. After investigation, it was realised the student still owed the university. The issue was brought to university top management who directed the finance officer to reconcile the fee balances to show the actual outstanding fees which was never acted upon leading to students demonstration.
In the same department, an accountant, Kemboi Nathan, was suspended after he failed to account for Sh27 million between 2011 and 20113. The new fee structure was approved in 2013 by the university
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