Let’s talk, Moi University now tells fuming locals

Moi University demos

Demonstrators wave placards at Moi University in Kesses while calling for the removal of the vice-chancellor, Prof Isaac Kosgey, whom they accused of running down the institution.

Photo credit: Titus Ominde | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The university management says it appreciates public vigilance in holding the institution accountable.
  • On Monday, demonstrators pitched camp at the main entrance to the university in Kesses demanding the ouster of Prof Kosgey.

Moi University has invited the local community for “structured dialogue” following this week’s demos against its Vice-Chancellor Isaac Kosgey over claims of mismanagement and incompetence. 

The university has asked community leaders to book an appointment with its management to address any issues affecting them, promising to address them.

Responding to grievances raised by the local community in the Monday demos where protestors demanded the removal Prof Kosgey, the university management says it appreciates their vigilance in holding the institution accountable.

Prof Kuremu Tenge, the Principal of the College of Health Sciences, representing the VC, told the Nation that they were keen to maintain a positive relationship with the local community through the University Community Partnership (UCP).

“The vice-chancellor believes that the best way to ensure a cordial working relationship with the community is through structured dialogue and not demonstrations,” Prof Tenge, accompanied by Director, Open and Distance E-learning, Prof Masibo Lumala, told the Nation on Wednesday 
Prof Lumala said the recent demonstrations were an eye-opener to the university on some of the locals’ concerns and urged the community to appoint representatives for the talks.

“We urge the community leaders to book an appointment with the university management to address any issues affecting them for which the university can be of help. We encourage an ongoing dialogue to address these concerns and work collectively toward resolutions that benefit everyone involved,” the institution said.

“We are alive to some of the grievances raised by the local community during recent demonstrations. The university management is ready to engage the community in a dialogue that will help in addressing some of the issues that they raised,” said Prof Lumala.

In an interesting of events on Monday, demonstrators pitched camp at the main entrance to the university in Kesses demanding the ouster of Prof Kosgey, a native and former Laikipia University deputy vice-chancellor, while apologising to Prof Laban Ayiro whom they rejected as VC in 2016.

It has since emerged that the ouster of Prof Ayiro, who had held the VC’s position in acting capacity for 18 months, was politically instigated, and on tribal grounds, with protestors confessing on Monday that they were misled by their political leaders to reject the accomplished education administrator.

The man some described as “the best performer the institution has ever had” is now the VC Daystar University, following his appointment in March 2019.

During the Monday protests that brought activities at the institution to a standstill, the protestors emotionally recalled how their political leaders led them in hounding Prof Ayiro out of the institution.

The leaders included the then Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago, his Elgeyo Marakwet counterpart Alex Tolgos, Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi and then Moiben MP Silas Tiren, among others.

They led the demonstrators to storm the institution’s Kesses main campus and threatened to stop that year’s 32nd graduation ceremony if Prof Kosgey was not named the VC to replace Prof Richard Mibey.

“We apologise to Professor Ayiro. We were fooled by local politicians to chase him yet he was the best performer,” said Mr Richard Tarus, a local community leader, who said the former VC’s ouster was politically instigated.

Other issues raised by the protesting locals touched on financial challenges at the institution that have affected its operations.

In its Wednesday rejoinder, the university management said most of the challenges at the institution were related to funding and would be sorted out as soon as funds were available. 

Prof Tenge defended the 80-acre apple farming project that protesting locals had termed as a white elephant, promising that the institution was soon going ‘to reap heavily from it,’.

“We are expecting to start harvesting apples soon. Let us be patient with the crop before enjoying the benefits,” said Prof Tengo.

He, however, said the project has been facing a water supply challenge, but the university was working with other stakeholders to address this. 

“The university has been in touch with the county government and there are plans to drill a borehole that will ensure the apple farm is properly irrigated,” he said.

The management has promised to address the allegations of unlawful dismissal of workers and engage in fair employment practices, noting that most of the grievances had been addressed.

Prof Lumala said the Department of Human Resources had factored in proper measures to ensure fair employment, while at the same time reminding them that the university was a public institution that serves the entire country, hence the need for balance in job allocation. 

"We try as much as possible to practice equity so that there is fairness even in employment. There is fairness in promotions so that people are promoted not based on where they come from but based on what is required by the university,” added the institution’s Human Resources Manager Evelyn Kiboswa.

Further, the university promised to address concerns of workers being listed on the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB), noting that it is currently engaged in discussions with the government for the release of capitation funds.

“As soon as funds are made available, the management will endeavour to clear all outstanding loans to free our members from being listed and denied the much-needed loans for personal growth and development,” the university statement said.

On reinstatement of casual labourers, the institution said each case of the 48 was under review and those who have since been found not culpable were reinstated.

“The university has always encouraged open lines of communication and continues to address matters touching on the CBAs as brought forth by the unions.”

The management also addressed the issue of missing marks, noting that an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System is in place to address student-related issues. 

“This system has significantly streamlined processes and enhanced efficiency in handling academic matters. The students are now able to access their marks and other services through the ERP portal,” it stated.

The management, however, dismissed claims of rape and security management being involved in the sale of alcohol to students, as well as claims that the university had sold its miller. 

"I wish to confirm that there are no bars on Moi University campuses. This is a government institution and as a teaching area, you cannot find a bar. If there are any they are not within Moi University,” said Prof Lumala.

"If some of our students drink they might be doing so in Kesses and the bars there are owned by locals. So, I don’t think it makes good sense to say that the university is encouraging alcoholism and drug abuse because we have a policy and a standing senate ad-hoc committee that addresses that,” he stated.

According to Prof Lumala, the university plans to revive the Elimu Mills to allow the community to supply maize. 

“We will do everything possible to work together with the Kesses community by reviving projects that used to benefit the local community,” said Professor Lumala.