Confusion at Moi University as retired Vice Chancellor ‘returns’

What you need to know:

  • The University Academic Staff Union announced that all staff at the university will be on strike mode beginning Monday until the financial impropriety claims are addressed.
  • The union also complained of retention of staff pension dues since October, 2015, and pension arrears from May, 2014, currently amounting ton Sh290 million.
  • Prof Mibey is the longest serving Vice Chancellor of the Moi University.

The row between staff and management at Moi University on Monday took a dramatic twist when outgoing Vice-Chancellor Richard Mibey made an about-turn and took back his position.

University officials denied there was such a development, claiming they were hearing it from the media for the first time.

“We’ve not heard of anything like that, but we’ll issue an official statement once we get any information,” university public relations officer Alfred Wandera told the Nation.

However, a source at the institution contradicted this, claiming Prof Mibey was actually in his office on Monday.

“I gather he’s been given three months. But I don’t see any picketing taking off. Just whispers in corridors,” a university employee, who requested not to be named, told the Nation in reference to an anticipated strike by staff against the VC’s return.

This came as three senior officials at the university were sent on compulsory leave over claims of financial impropriety in the battle to succeed Prof Mibey, whose term is coming to an end.

The University Academic Staff Union (UASU), through its Moi University chapter secretary Jack Okumu, announced that all staff at the university would be in strike mode beginning Monday until the financial impropriety claims are addressed.

Mr Okumu said the union is demanding a forensic audit by an external, independent firm, adding that there is lack of transparency in financial management at the university.

“The university is facing a lot of problems. Non-payment of medical bills incurred by the university staff has led to nearly all hospitals in Eldoret curtailing medical services to Moi University employees, exposing staff to grave medical risks and enormous suffering,” said a UASU statement seen by the Nation.

The union also complained of retention of staff pension dues since October 2015, and pension arrears from May 2014, currently amounting to Sh290 million.

The letter is signed by Mr Oumu, Mr Azihemba Mbai (Kenya Universities Staff Union secretary) and Mr Wilson Kemboi (shop steward), who have also complained of selectivity in payment for tuition services in the university’s parallel programme.

“As interviews for the transition in the VC’s position draw closer, it would be prudent that the outgoing CEO account exhaustively for all institutional resources for which he has provided supreme overall control, especially the finance portfolio covering the last five years of his tenure,” demanded UASU.

The letter is copied to the Education Cabinet secretary, Education principal secretary, chief executive officer (State Corporation), vice-chancellor (Moi University) and UASU secretary-general, among others.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Finance Prof David Tuigong is among officials affected by the new changes and two others are in the accounts department. Their names are yet to be disclosed.

Contacted, Prof Tuigong declined to comment on the matter maintaining that the campus Vice Chancellor was well placed to give remarks on the issue.

“It is only the University CEO who can comment on such matters,” said Prof Tuigong.

The University’s Council chairperson, Prof Jenesio Kinyamario, after a joint Senate and Council meeting held at in the Senate’s chambers last week announced that Prof Esamai, Principal of College of Health Sciences will assume the role of Prof Mibey (in an acting capacity), who was supposed to take a terminal leave pending the appointment of a new Vice Chancellor.

TERMINAL LEAVE

Multiple sources revealed that the university administration has launched a forensic audit into alleged financial misappropriation running into millions of shillings.

Prof Kinyamario disclosed after council meeting that Prof Daniel Tarus of the Privately Sponsored Students’ Programme (PSSP) will act as the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Finance, replacing Prof Tuigong in the new changes. “Prof Mibey will proceed on terminal leave.

In his position, the Council has approved Prof Esamai from the varsity’s College of Health Sciences to act as the Vice Chancellor until the period of service of Prof Mibey comes to an end,” said Prof Kinyamario.

Prof Mibey has been at the helm of the Institution of Higher Learning since September 2006 and his term is expected to end officially this September. 
The outgoing VC is expected to return to the university to officially hand over the management of institution to the person who will be appointed by the Dr Fred Matiangi, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Education, Science and Technology as the new Vice Chancellor.

Prof Mibey said last week: “I thank the government and Moi University Council for having offered me opportunity to serve this great institution. I have enjoyed cordial working relationship with my Deputy Vice Chancellors and I hope the same will continue in my absence.

“I urge everyone to give Prof Esamai the necessary support that he requires to move Moi University forward.”

FINDING AMICABLE SOLUTIONS

Prof Esamai promised to continue building on the good work initiated by Prof Mibey and to focus on the University challenges together with the Deputy Vice Chancellors in order to find amicable solutions.

“I want to request that we all get down and address the challenges we are facing so that we move forward until the new Chief Executive is appointed,” said Prof Esamai.

Prof Mibey is the longest serving Vice Chancellor of the Moi University.

He took over from the current Commission of Higher Education chief executive Prof David Some who served from 2002 to 2006.

Others who served at the position are Prof Douglas Odhiambo (1984-1988), Prof Shelemiah Okoth Keya (1988-1994), Prof Justin Irina (1994-1988) and Prof Raphael Munavu (1998-2002).  

On May 19, the university conducted interviews for those short-listed for the position.

Some of those reported to have been interviewed for the position include varsity’s Deputy Vice Chancellor Administration and Planning Prof Paul Chepkuto, the Rongo University College Principal Prof Samuel Gudu, Laikipia University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance, Prof Isaac Kosgey and Prof Ann Nangulu, the Commission of Higher Education Board secretariat.

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