Makini Schools
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Nixon Bugo, the parent facing off with Makini Schools

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In 2018 Makini Schools was acquired by Advtech, a South African-based private education provider.

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

Nixon Bugo, the man whose legal tussle with Makini Schools has caught the attention of the country, is not new within the corridors of justice. 

Besides the defamatory case which has been brought against him by the management of Makini School, Mr Bugo filed a complaint 10 years ago against his employer at the time. 

The two cases paint a picture of a man of contrasts – an accused person on one hand and a complainant on the other.

In the ongoing case, in which the regional managing director for Makini Schools, Horace Mpanza, has sued Bugo for defamation – accusing him of inciting parents against him – the chairperson of the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) of Makini Schools, is cast as an agitator whose sole mission is to stir the hornets’ nest. 

In his defence, Mr Bugo argues that as the chairperson of PTA, it is his duty to champion the welfare of the students, staff and parents of Makini Schools.

However, his position has only put him at loggerheads with the management of the school.  

He is currently facing a defamation lawsuit following his claims that Mpanza carries firearms on campus and engages in antisocial activities with students. 

He is also on record for having accused Mpanza of being aggressive towards teachers, students and the staff. 

The defamation suit stems from prolonged conflict and allegations that have sparked controversies, from student enrollment numbers to infrastructural deficiencies and staff mismanagement. 

Mr Bugo reportedly said that since the school’s ownership changed hands, parents have had challenges accessing the school.  

In 2018 Makini Schools was acquired by Advtech, a South African-based private education provider.

The new owners came with foreign employees, including Mpanza. 

The school was founded by Dr Pius Okelo and his wife Dr Mary Okelo.

In the lawsuit, Mpanza seek to have Bugo restrained from making further defamatory remarks against him, prayers that have since been granted by the Principal Magistrate Sammy Opande. 

Mpanza said Bugo knew that the utterances would cause him to suffer distress, embarrassment and jeorpardise his relationship with the parents and stakeholders of the school. 

In contrast with the present case, some 10 years ago Mr Bugo was the complainant in another interesting case.

On December 17, 2014, Bugo went to court to have his then employer, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), restrained from investigating, suspending or withholding his salary pending the hearing of a suit. 

Court papers show that in 2014 Bugo's professional conduct came under intense scrutiny during while he served as the Head of Banking and Innovative Finance at AGRA.

At the heart of the matter was Bugo's involvement in the implementation of a programme that included the pre-qualification process for Technical Service Providers (TSPs).

Court documents show that a whistleblower sounded the alarm, prompting a review of AGRA's procurement process, particularly a tender being overseen by none other than Nixon Bugo. 

The whistleblower alleged that certain TSPs gained an undue advantage shortly before the call for proposals. 

According to the whistleblower, sensitive information about the tender process was allegedly shared prematurely with select TSPs, raising eyebrows about potential favoritism.

One of the bidders, Comprehensive Risk Assessment Holdings (CRAH), the court heard, reported Bugo to AGRA for providing the bidder with an expression of interest (EOI) for pre-qualification of TSPs before its public release. 

Moreover, Bugo was accused of not disclosing his connection with the bidder to the Technical Evaluation Panel, a clear violation of ethical standards.

Court documents further reveal that Bugo had allegedly solicited favours from the bidder by demanding that CRAH include his sister and cousin on its board of directors before the company could achieve success in its bidding endeavors. 

Following these claims, AGRA engaged the services of KPMG to investigate Bugo. 

In response, Bugo attempted to obtain an injunction against his employer to halt KPMG's forensic investigation into a project he managed. 

However, his application for an injunction against the forensic investigation was unsuccessful.

In a subsequent attempt, Bugo sought to halt the disciplinary process initiated against him but lost yet again.

“The Employer, AGRA be allowed to complete the disciplinary process without undue hindrance by the court…The Application is not successful and is dismissed,” Principal Judge Mathews Nderi Nduma said in his ruling on July 11, 2015. 

In the current case, Mpanza has told the court that Bugo ought to have known that the managing director has never assaulted any person and no person has ever lodged a complaint of assault.

“The defendant ought to know that the 2nd plaintiff does not own a gun and has never owned a gun in his life,” said Mpanza.

He says there are no guns in school and there are security checks with no guns allowed. 

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE)-listed Advtech increased its stake in Makini Schools to 90 per cent in 2020 ending a 42-year ownership by the Okelos.

A year later, Advtech further raised its stakes in the school up to 94 per cent, even as it introduced Cambridge International Curriculum to complement the local syllabus.

Besides Kenya and South Africa, Advtech operates high-end schools and tertiary institutions in Uganda and Botswana among other countries in Africa. 

It is part of a growing list of private education cashing in on high demand for quality education by the middle-class and expatriates working for multinationals, foreign governments and global institutions.