Education CS Magoha should stand his ground in varsity row

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020 00:00 |
Stephen Kiama. Photo/File

Like his predecessor Fred Matiang’i, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha is a genius!

The two gentlemen epitomise the pinnacle of intellectualism, something that may not be readily appreciated by those who thrive through ignorance and deceit.

The inference is not that they are demigods, or that they are not prone to some flaws that we condemn.

After all, we are all mortal, and can stumble at an inopportune or weak moment, if the stars align themselves across our paths.

Still, there is a bare minimum for those who hold the kind of heavy responsibilities that the two academicians hold.

Even amidst personal interest, there should be a way that outcomes eventually reflect order and civility—the call of due process in public affairs.

In the course of his career so far, Magoha has not been called out for involvement in any scam, something many of his peers cannot boast of.

Understandably, it is the lack of transparency in the hiring process of the University of Nairobi (UoN) Vice Chancellor that Magoha is fighting. 

Naturally, UoN has great sentimental value for the CS, having served as a VC at the institution.

Known to take the bull by the horns, students behaved relatively well during Magoha’s eight-year tenure at the helm.

He handled the restless youngsters with velvet fists, and cracked the whip the way he would do to his own child.

Students hardly went out on the rampage, or disrupted the semester calendar.

I believe Magoha must be relishing the recent spat pitting him and the reinstated VC Stephen Kiama, with the latter being backed by the university council that controversially selected him without the regulatory final consultations.

No one in authority can countenance such insubordination. It is a dangerous precedent that has been set by, unfortunately, the Judiciary, who continue to undermine the authority of other jurisdictions in similar circumstances.    

Magoha needs to stand his ground against the continued propagation of such impunity. Notwithstanding the court order that reinstated Kiama, there are many ways of skinning a cat, I guess!  

I have not yet interacted with any of the two professors involved in this controversy. Going by their body language and track record, however, one can discern who genuinely among them has the bigger picture, and the interest of the premier public university.

This is Magoha’s biggest challenge in his public service. But he can take courage from the way his predecessor handled busy bodies.

One example is the fight between then ICT minister Matiang’i and the country’s media houses during the transition from analogue to digital television.

Up to now, the media have no idea what hit them. Used to having their way, they picked the wrong person for a fight.

Even amidst the court circus, Matiang’i was adamant that there would no relenting on something that was necessary for the sector, and the country as a whole.

Imagine if the Kenyan Cabinet comprised more people of such mettle. This country would be at another level.

 Interestingly, their strong personalities also crossed at some point when Matiang’i was a lecturer at UoN, and Magoha the boss. It is said the former was let go for absconding classes.

As fate would have it, Matiang’i became Magoha’s boss when the latter was appointed chairman of the Kenya National Examination Council.

It seems they respect each other’s guts, which saved us the inevitable drama. 

If Kiama is confident that he is first among equals, and he has nothing to hide, he should respect the revocation by the CS, and wait for the process to go full circle.

Unless he has vested interest in the VC position, there is no reason to hunger for it. —The writer is a communication expert, and public policy analyst. [email protected]

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