Thursday, September 2nd, 2021 00:00 |
Education CS George Magoha (left) presents textbooks to Jessica Akinyi during the multi-sectoral door-door campaign in Nairobi yesterday. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha will be seeking to stamp his authority in the reconstitution of the University of Nairobi Council whose term expires in 10 days’ time.

Prof Magoha, who once served as the university’s vice-chancellor has had several run-ins with the council chaired by former assistant minister Prof Julia Ojiambo, including the recruitment and appointment of Prof Kiama Gitahi as the VC.

Besides, the university has been rocked by myriad challenges, ranging from costly court cases, to a gaping budget deficit, student unrest, dwindling student numbers and labour disputes.

But it was the council’s controversial restructuring of the university’s top tiers that could have been the last straw that broke the camel’s back.

Critics of the council argue that time is ripe for Magoha to step in and bring to an end the challenges bedevilling the institution.

The council was gazetted on August 12, 2018 for a three-year period, which expires on September 12.

Other council members include Flora Mtuweta, Mighulo Maghanga, Jocelyn Rarrieya, Hassan Mohamud, Kariuki Muchemi and Isaac Kiprop.

Legally, the council is legible for another term, but only through a competitive process by the Ministry of Education.

Yesterday, the University Academic Staff Union (Uasu) asked Magoha to include its representatives in the recruitment panel amid intense behind-the-scenes succession intrigues.

According to Uasu, UoN Chapter Secretary General Dr Maloba Wekesa, there must be change in the manner the university is being managed even as he accused the outgoing council of running it down by introducing unpopular reforms.

 “We want the voice of the university staff to be heard in the selection process to eliminate any possible innuendos that the next council will be hired at the behest of some people,” Dr Wekesa told People Daily.

“We will resist any attempts to renew the (term of) disgraced council,” Wekesa added.

This is the first time the academic staff is pushing to participate in this process even as it emerged that the council was keen on having its term extended despite protests.

Dr Wekesa’s sentiments were shared by the Chapter’s chairman Dr Richard Bosire who alleged of a rushed scheme by the university council’s term to create an suitable environment to justify renewal of their term.

“We will fight to the last person to ensure that their term is not renewed. There is nothing they have done for this institution and have been introducing reforms to kill it, they are misadvising the Vice Chancellor…We want energetic people who understand governance reforms,” Dr Bosire said.

Uasu criticised the council for supervising the most radical restructuring in its 56-year history-placing senior staff on contract, abolishing departments while tightening its grip.

However, others argue that the abolition heralded a new dispensation that would for the first time deny the institution global image.

They also claimed that the VC and the Council have been appointing all officers in the university, which renders the management structure autocratic, oppressive and retrogressive, saying they should be given an opportunity to elect their deans.

“Restructuring has been whimsical, not based on evidence, shrouded in secrecy, haphazard and has failed to embrace consultation with stakeholders.

This has caused enormous anxiety and fear among staff. Lecturers on Module II are not being paid yet they work overtime, this is despite the fact that students have fully paid their fees,” Dr Bosire complained.

They are also dissatisfied with non-renewal of contracts for Tutorial Fellows and other contract employees and non-payment of gratuity.

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