University in limbo as leadership crisis bites

Masinde Muliro University Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Joseph Bosire -Photo/Anne Chebet/County Guardian News


By Anne Chebet

Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (Mmust) is currently undergoing turbulent times over leadership crisis.

All the top management positions at the university are being held in acting capacity with board room wars that rocked the university council making it difficult for them to be replaced.

Prof Joseph Bosire, the current acting Vice Chancellor, took over from Prof Fredrick Otieno in November 30 last year after the latter’s five-year tenure in office expired. The council however declined to renew his contract.

Besides, Prof Egara Kabaji, the current Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC) in charge of Planning and Research whose was the only remaining substantive office holder, his term expired on January 23, this year.

Prof Josephine Ngaira, former DVC for Academics and Students Affairs tenure expired in October last year while the position of Finance and Administration fell vacant after Prof Joseph Rotich who held the office was appointed VC for Laikipia university.

Ngaira’s position is being held by Eng. Benedict Sabuni and that of Finance is under Patrick Ojera. The two are holding the dockets in acting capacity.

Last year, Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed, overruled the university council decision to appoint Prof Kabaji as acting Vice Chancellor and appointed Prof Bosire to oversee the graduation ceremony.

CS Amina has again stopped the shortlisting of candidates to be interviewed for the position of Vice Chancellor after it emerged that the university council was a divided lot and more so the process was being interfered by the political class.

Amina has further transferred the current Mmust Council chair Dr Jeremy Bundi to Pwani University. She replaced him with Dr Jane Musangi Mutua, the current chair of Pwani university.

This was in in December 20, last year, when the CS revoked the gazette notice no. 2349 of March 14,2017 that appointment Dr Jeremy Bundi as council chair of Mmust.

Part of the gazette notice read, “Dr Jane Musangi is hereby appointed to be the chairperson of Masinde Muliro University Council with effect from December 21 for a period of one year and three months,”

It continues, “The appointment of Dr Jeremy Bundi as Council chairperson of Masinde Muliro university is revoked with immediate effect and appointed as chairman of council for Pwani University with effect from 21st December for a period of one year and two months,”

One month later, Dr Bundi has not handed over office to the new council chair and latest Monday this week, he chaired a full session of a council meeting at the university. This is according to a council member who sought anonymity.

In the same gazette notice, Amb. Amina went further and also revoked the appointment of Kossiom Frank Ole Kibelekenya as a member of Mmust university council and replaced him with Dr Ahmed Mohamed Diriye for a period of three years.

Dr Diriye previously served as a Council Member of the Institute of Human Resources Management (IHRM), the professional body of HR professionals in Kenya.

On Monday, Mr Kossiom wrote to the Education CS that he had resigned as a member of the Mmust council. He was still serving despite his position having been taken over by Dr Diriye.

In an emotional interview with the media in Kakamega town, he said his problems were being orchestrated by the University Education Principal Secretary, Prof Collete Suda.

Part of his resignation letter dated January read: “I want to painfully report my intention to tender my resignation as council member of Masinde Muliro University due to frequent harassment, intimidation and witch-hunting by one Prof Collete Suda,”

The letter also reads: “The PS has permanently ensured transition at the university is managed closely through her office and cronics. Any council member perceived to have a divergent view, contrary opinion who tries to exercise his independence is harassed and threatened,”

Mr Kossiom termed the PS as being a tribalist who does not believe in academic and professional competence but a strong proponent of ethnicity and nepotism.

In a rejoinder, Prof Suda in a telephone interview told the County Guardian said she was just following government policy when making recommendations to the CS Education to make the changes.

“Mr Kossiom has two jobs in public service and that’s against the government policy that you cannot have two jobs at the same time. I have nothing sinister against him,” said Prof Suda.

Now members of the Universities Academic Staff (Uasu), Kenya Universities Staff Union Kusu) and Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (Kudheiha) are opposed to the transfer of Dr Bundi to Pwani University on grounds that he has delivered on his mandate.

Besides transition politics at the university, Mmust is also mourning the deaths of three senior lecturers who died in a span of three weeks and two students. Twenty-three students also died last year.

The institutions acting Vice Chancellor, Prof. Joseph Bosire, during the university prayer day last Tuesday said death had robbed them dependable manpower.

“It is unfortunate that took over the mantle of leadership at a time when the University is going through hard times. Unprecedented levels of death among staff and students is worrying and we need prayers,” said Prof Bosire.

Dr Caroline Onyancha, the Academic Registrar succumbed to meningitis, Dr. Bob Mbori, the Dean, School of Arts and Social Sciences died as a result of liver cancer and Prof. Yudah Ayodo, Deputy Principal, Kaimosi University College succumbed to lung cancer.

Kaimosi is a constituent college of Mmust.

“I am a very sad man for having losing senior members of university management board in a span of three weeks. Two students in January alone have died and last year, we lost at least twenty-three students due to various ailments,” said Prof Bosire.

“There is need for cohesion among the bigger MMUST family as the challenges we are currently facing call for divine intervention to overcome them. Am also calling for reconciliation between the unions, teaching staff and the management and every member of the MMUST Community who feels aggrieved,” he added