Bring it on: Daystar VC Laban Ayiro welcomes probe on church demands

Daystar vice chancellor, Prof Laban Ayiro when he served in the same capacity at Moi University.

Daystar vice chancellor, Prof Laban Ayiro when he served in the same capacity at Moi University.

Photo credit: File / Nation Media Group

Daystar University has welcomed the probe ordered by the Ministry of Education last week into allegations that non-Christian students are forced to attend church services at the institutions and their marks withheld if they fail to attend 75 per cent of scheduled programmes.

Daystar vice chancellor, Prof Laban Ayiro, refuted the claims made on the floor of the House by Nyali Member of Parliament Mohammed Ali, denouncing them as false and damaging to the institution's reputation.

“I've had a tough week since these claims surfaced in Parliament. It pains me that we, as leaders, resort to lies, I've dedicated my life to education, guiding countless students to fulfil their potential. The video clip circulating, where the MP accuses Daystar of denying marks based on religion, is a blatant falsehood. May God forgive him,” Prof Ayiro told the students and staff at the institution.

Prof Ayiro expressed his dismay at the MP's accusations that the university discriminates against students based on religious beliefs.

It was the first time the VC spoke publicly about the issue since it came up in Parliament when the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Ezekiel Machogu, appeared to answer questions from MPs.

“I've avoided talking to the Press because I don’t know how many of us; the accountable people in this country who truly believe in value education. When somebody lies in Parliament, I’m pained."

"I’m waiting for the team (from the ministry) and I have a message for them. My message is: maybe you’re very worried about the hope some of us carry in our hearts. That’s why you can stand up and say those things,” he added.

Prof Ayiro said that the university's population of over 7,000 students would create logistical challenges if worship is to be compulsory. He also denied that the university promotes homosexuality in its teachings.

'Have my day in court'

“I wish the MP knew who I am and who Daystar is. If this worship was compulsory we would have no space. But for a national leader to stand up and lie … I will have my day in court with him. Why don’t you fix things in the country where things are horrible? Why are you going for the innocent?” he posed.

Legislators enjoy immunity from legal proceedings for their utterances on the floor of the House as the sessions are considered privileged.

The VC urged Kenyans to hold their leaders accountable for their actions.

“We must begin to ask people; what is your contribution to this country, what have you done for this country (for you) to destroy an image of the institution like this? If you don’t protect the few individuals who are giving this country a semblance of sanctity, the country will die,” he said.

Last week, Machogu said that freedom of worship was enshrined in the constitution and directed the Principal Secretary for Higher Education, Beatrice Inyangala and the Commission for University to investigate the policies and practices of the university in two weeks.

Prof Ayiro emphasised unity among students of different faiths.