The controversy over the academic qualifications of Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja has taken a new twist after inconsistencies started to emerge on what the legislator has said in the past about the institution he attended for his undergraduate course. Mr Sakaja is vying for governor of Nairobi.
The Commission for University Education (CUE) told Sunday Nation that the senator presented a degree from a Ugandan university for regularisation, which he intended to use for clearance for the race, after a number of documents were leaked.
The University of Nairobi (UoN), where the senator has often claimed he graduated with a degree in actuarial science, told Sunday Nation that the senator is still a student and has not completed the course.
UoN communications director John Orindi said he was admitted to the university on a module two programme in 2003.
“It is true Sakaja was admitted to the university and was pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Science, studied from first year up to fourth year, but is yet to graduate,” said Mr Orindi.
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“The university earlier issued a statement... and was clear that the person in question did not complete his studies.”
The university, in a verification letter to the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) dated May 31 last year, said Mr Sakaja’s transcripts were incomplete.
“...they have not been signed by the university,” the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs, Prof Julius Ogeng’o, replied to the DCI, which is carrying out its own investigation.
Mr Sakaja has in a number of past media interviews said he studied actuarial science at the University of Nairobi from 2002 to 2007.
In an interview run on NTV in June last year, the senator told comedian Daniel Ndambuki that he bought his first car- a Mercedes Benz while in fourth year at UoN in 2007. “Our family did not have a lot of money so I had businesses,” he said.
A petitioner has filed a complaint with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Dispute Resolutions Committee seeking to have the senator barred from the gubernatorial race.
Mr Dennis Gakuu Wahome wants the senator kicked out for failing to “meet the constitutional and statutory requirements to have a degree.”
In an affidavit supporting a case filed at the IEBC Disputes Resolutions Committee, Mr Wahome said the senator, while filling the nomination Jubilee form in 2017, wrote that he graduated from the University of Nairobi.
“The respondent has demonstrated fraud and forgeries that have the potential to erode the public confidence in and diminish the integrity of qualifications in Uganda and Kenyan degrees both regionally as well as globally,” said Mr Wahome.
The Elections Act says a person “nominated as a candidate for election as president, deputy president, county governor or deputy county governor must be a holder of a degree from a university recognised in Kenya.”
But on June 6, just a day before the senator presented his papers to the IEBC, he applied to CUE asking the commission to ascertain the accreditation status of Team University in Uganda where he had graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Management.
According to the degree certificate the senator is said to have presented to CUE, he graduated on October 21, 2016. But a booklet from the institution for the graduation ceremony that took place in October 2016 does not contain Mr Sakaja’s name among the six BSC (Management) graduands.
“It is hereby confirmed that Team University is a recognised institution in Uganda. The qualification awarded by the said institution is also recognised in Uganda and by convention in Kenya,” CUE chief executive Mwenda Ntarangwi responded to the senator on June 6.
When contacted, Prof Ntarangwi said CUE “tried to investigate but the University wrote and said Mr Sakaja attended the programme online”. The qualifications were also confirmed by the Uganda National Council for Higher Education. “Once they own a student, you can’t really dispute. That’s the way it is for us,” said Prof Ntarangwi.
On Tuesday after presenting his papers before the IEBC at Kasarani Gymnasium, Nairobi, the senator took a jibe at those questioning his academic credentials.
“Forget propaganda; sell your candidate. Our march is unstoppable, our faith unshakeable and our victory is inevitable,” he posted on Twitter.
In a petition challenging Mr Sakaja’s clearance, Mr Alex Musalia argues the senator had not satisfied the requirements of the law as it was not clear how he completed his degree studies abroad while serving as MP full-time. He says the circumstances under which the degree was accredited shortly before the submission of his papers to IEBC was suspect.
Reporting by Faith Nyamai, Vincent Achuka, Silas Apollo and Richard Munguti