UoN wrangles deepen as Kiama makes changes in management

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020 11:00 |
Prof Stephen Kiama during the launch of the 2019-2020 strategic plan early this month at the University of Nairobi. Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI

Wrangles over leadership at the University of Nairobi deepened further yesterday after Prof. Stephen Kiama Gitahi, whose appointment was revoked by the government, moved to stamp his authority and made changes in the top management.

Kiama sent Prof Isaac Mbeche on leave and proceeded to appoint the current Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research, Innovation and Extension) Prof Madara Ogot as the Deputy Vice Chancellor for the period that Mbeche will be away.

“Following the request by Prof Isaac Mbeche, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance, Planning and Development) to proceed on annual leave with effect from January 6 and the same having been granted Prof Ogot, was appointed to act in this position for the period Prof Mbeche will be on leave,” said Prof Kiama in a letter dated January 21.

But last evening, Mbeche dismissed Kiama’s move as null and void and promised that he would be in the office this morning.

“Who is he sending on leave and as who? I haven’t seen the purported court notice and as far as I am concerned, the government’s move to revoke his appointment still stands,” Mbeche said by telephone.

Mbeche said only the Cabinet Secretary has the powers to send him on leave and not Kiama.

Business as usual

Kiama further appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs Prof Julius Alexander Ogeng’o in an acting capacity as the Deputy Vice Chancellor Student Affairs to allow for substantive filling of this position.

“Both Prof Ogot and Prof Ogeng’o were formally appointed. Meanwhile, I wish to take this opportunity to thank all staff and students for remaining calm and proceeding with normal university business,” added Kiama.

But even as he made the appointments, it emerged that Kiama could not access the office yesterday morning until late in the afternoon when he reportedly also changed the locks. 

Reports indicate that Mbeche changed the locks to the office over the weekend and much as he was in the office on Monday, he did not show up yesterday.

As the back and forth tiffs persisted, Kiama’s installation as the eighth UoN Vice Chancellor failed to take off yesterday. 

He made the remarks as it emerged that the government has declared intent to move to court to set aside court orders granted on Monday, halting Prof Kiama’s revocation.

Kiama was to be installed at the Taifa Hall yesterday morning and though he was at the UoN’s main campus premises for the better part of the morning, normal activities of the institution went on uninterrupted and he insisted that there was no crisis.

Despite the back and forth that has come with the appointment, Kiama, who has been serving as Deputy Vice Chancellor, Human Resource and Administration in the University, put on a brave face saying  he neither feels like he is being attacked nor reads malice into the issue.

“I do not read any malice in the revocation, it is just a feeling from some quarters obviously they may believe that they have certain authority to do things, which is an issue that may require further interpretation because this is an academic institution and what we encourage is to keep talking,” said Prof Kiama who spoke from the university.

Adding:  “I do not feel like I am being attacked there has been some delay in this process. I was appointed at the beginning of the year and started serving as Vice Chancellor of January 6 and have been serving since then. This matter is already in court and would not want to get into it.” 

He said that since his appointment, he embarked on what is expected of that position and there has not been any issue until when he received communication from the media that certain actions had been taken, which he said are not in line with what he was already doing.

Prof Kiama further stated that wisdom will be found when different people talk and agree on a way forward, which should be done within the law. 

Act withing law

“Everybody should be free to think and act the way they do only within the law. Good thing with the law is that tomorrow all of us can again sit and say what law should be followed,” he said.

He said normal operations are on going in the university, including admission of new students and intends address them today but admitted to delay in running key processes in the institution.

Kiama said the university is not on a collision course with the Ministry of Education saying both parties do synergistic roles.

“Outsiders may see as if there is a collusion course but there is none because both entities serve the Government of the day and the fact that UoN is a public institution, it discharges its role within the mandate it is granted,” he said.

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