A recent announcement by Education cabinet secretary Jacob Kaimenyi to the effect that a taskforce had been set to investigate runaway expenditure at University of Nairobi was just but a mirage.
We have established that Kaimenyi’s words were out to cool the current high temperatures at the university.
Currently, a big rift exists between Vice-Chancellor Peter Mbithi and his deputy for administration and finance Benard Njoroge.
It is imperative to note, Kaimenyi announcement was made at a time Mbithi and senior university managers head appeared before parliamentary committee on education. The CS met members of university council and university management board. Kaimenyi is said to have called the meetings to forestall parliamentary probe.
The parliamentary committee is investigating the alleged ill-happenings at the university that involves tribalism, corruption, nepotism, extension of contracts, controversial appointments and random sackings.
The expenditure currently stands at Sh2.5 billion with Michael Karue who Mbithi sacked as finance officer at one time describing the deficit as “very severe”. The wage bill now stands at Sh750 million monthly.
An MP on education committee we talked to revealed, all is not well at the university and an intervention is seriously needed. He went further to reveal, they had summoned Mbithi and Njoroge back this week to shed light on the happenings even after they appeared before the committee.The MP said, for now dirty dealings and a divided senate at the expense of education is key at the institution.
By late last week, fear was, the university council, Kaimenyi and Mbithi were out to remove Njoroge from the office on grounds of insubordination and non-confidentiality.
Back to education committee, they want Mbithi when he appears again to shed light on a list of employees who have reached retirement age but are still working at the university.
The controversial list in our possession has the followings:-
It is said the above list consists those in the teaching staff. We have those none teaching who are still on the payroll despite reaching retirement age. Among them are director of security and safety John Njiri. Mbithi when he appeared with his team told the committee that all who had reached retirement age had left.
Sources further say, the MPs are concerned in the manner in which Fr Wamugunda wa Kimani’s position as dean of student was extended. He has held the position since 2002 when then president Mwai Kibaki succeeded Daniel Moi.
Many were surprised Wamugunda position was renewed without being advertised. A section at the university were eager to land the slot on grounds, Wamugunda is over 60 years and should have retired to his missionary duties.
Another area MPs want an added explanation has to do with the construction of the varsity towers. It has surfaced, all is not well in the manner in which the variations were done. Industry players say, instead of being done in accumulative stages, maximum variation was suspiciously worked on. For now, additional funding is required to complete or else it will stall. Over Sh250 million is required. Why this was allowed has left many guessing. The construction work is being undertaken by a Chinese firm.
For this to happen, more payments have to be done via tendering according to the procurement laws. Its initial budget was Sh2.5 billion.
All has not been well since George Magoha left the plum slot. We have information, upon retirement, Magoha went back to the lecture halls. However, his package raised issues. A section wanted him to be paid less than what he earned while the VC. He moved to court to stop the move on grounds, he was to enjoy the same goodies he had while VC.
Magoha became the VC of the University of Nairobi in 2005. Prior to that he had served as a chairman of the Department of Surgery, Dean Faculty of Medicine, Principal College of health sciences, Deputy Vice-Chancellor administration and Finance.
When Magoha took over the Vice-Chancellorship position, the University of Nairobi was suffering from various challenges which included: low staff morale, a cash deficit of more than Sh2billion, stalled buildings mainly students hostels and lecture theatre halls. Buildings were dilapidated together with physical infrastructure.Poor working environment was being experienced. The students population at that time was about 20,000.
During his 10 years tenure Magoha accomplished a number of notable milestones: which included completing stalled buildings and rehabilitation of dilapidated infrastructure.
Growth of module II programme popularly known as parallel degree from 10,000 students to 50,000 happened.He improved cashflow and cleared the deficit and recorded surplus funds
All this he was able to do due to his no-nonsense personality and teamwork unlike Mbithi who is accused of being a lone ranger depending on a clique of allies who perfect the art of witch hunt and personal gains.
By then the the council was chaired by John Simba and chancellor Joe Wanjui.
Mbithi worked under Magoha as the deputy vice-chancellor (Administration and Finance) for 10 years. It is Prof Magoha who supported him to become the deputy vice chancellor (Administration and Finance).
Magoha went further to supported Mbithi in his bid for the vice-chancellor position. Those in the know say, were it not for his unwavering support and lobbying for Magoha, Mbithi would not have become the VC. When Mbithi took over the position of the VC on January 6 2015 he for months continued holding the office of deputy vice-chancellor (Administration and Finance). It is this time a purchase of the VC residence furniture totaling to Sh10m was done.
To compound it all when Prof Mbithi was installed as a vice-chancellor a lavish ceremony that cost more than Sh12m was budgeted for.
When the position of the DVC (Administration and Finance) was advertised, Mbithi had his preferred candidate, Enos Njeru Principal College of Humanities and Social Sciences. He had the backing of CS Kaimenyi. Prof Njeru had only served as a dean Faculty of Arts for two years and had never served as chairman of a department.
The appointment of the deputy vice-chancellor (Administration and Finance) took long to effect. Njoroge emerged the winner but it did not go down well with Mbithi and Kaimenyi forcing staff and students unions to join the fray and have Njoroge named.
Strained relations with Njoroge, it is said, has to do with Kaimenyi’s preferred candidate and refusal to accord him necessary support as DVC A&F.
The MPs have been told that, soon the positions of DVC (Research) and DVC (Student Affairs) together with those of the Principals College of Biological and Physical Sciences, College of Humanities and Social Sciences will fall vacant in less than four months and non have been advertised as per regulations. Fear is, favoured candidates are to be imposed as it happened with the dean of student affairs.
To complicate matters worse, Colleges of Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences together with College of Architecture and Engineering are yet to be filled. Those in position are on acting capacity and the legislators on the committee fear is, stakeholders are planning to challenge the matter in court. Already the controversy surrounding the composition and tenure of the council has been petitioned in courts.
Mbithi has been accused of interfering with on goings at the pension scheme. Njoroge and Lucy Irungu were replaced as trustees with members of University Council Fenny Mwakisha -employee of ministry of Education and Dr Sanjay. Magoha was voted in the University of Nairobi academic staff.
Prof Kaimenyi refusal to disband the University of Nairobi Council even after instructed to do so is the cause of the court case.
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