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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Intrigues behind vacant Nairobi varsity DVC’s job

Following the declaration of vacancy for the position of the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration and Finance, at the University of Nairobi through a press advert, lobbying for the position has now begun in earnest.
The position fell vacant following the retirement of vice-chancellor George Magoha and the elevation of the DVC Peter Mbithi as his successor. Before the promotion, Prof Mbithi was the DVC, Administration and Finance.
As lobbying continues, investigations reveal that although his term ended, Prof Magoha still calls the shot at the university. Magoha still wields a lot of power considering that he personally influenced the appointment of Mbithi as his successor against the wishes of the Education cabinet secretary Jackob Kaimenyi. Infact he is said to be a defacto VC and his push for Mbithi was for the continuity and business as usual.
According to university sources, Prof Kaimenyi had settled on Agnes Mwang’ombe 77.3pc and came second after Mbithi. He finally bowed to pressure from Magoha and top university management who had settled on Mbithi.
Already controversy is surrounding the appointment  of the DVC over claims that Magoha and Kaimenyi are attempting to influence the process. Kaimenyi is said to be lobbying for Prof Mwang’ombe. She is currently the Principal of the College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences. She is a professor of Plant Pathology and married in Taita-Taveta county. We could not establish whether is had applied for the position after failing to get the plum one even after enjoying the support of the academic and nonacademic staff.
Mbithi and Magoha on the other hand are said to be lobbying for a Luo to land the slot. They argue that other major tribes are well represented at the top university level and with Magoha out, his region need to be considered.
From Central province, Lucy Irungu is the person. She is currently the deputy vice chancellor, Research, Production and Extension.  The DVC, Research, Production and Extension, is also the head of Extension Division at the university.
During the interviews for the VC’s position, she was ranked third having scored 67.6pc. Reports indicate that she is related to the former chancellor Joe Wanjui and her performance at VC interviews where she was distant third shows she is not fit for he current position. She used to enjoy strong connections with the former administration of Mwai Kibaki thus got the position purely on political patronage. She is also now said to have wormed her way into the Jubilee administration.
Sources say she played a pivotal role in having Uhuru Kenyatta visit the University of Nairobi recently to lay the foundation stone of a building that is nearly complete. She is also said to be close to the powerful Devolution cabinet secretary Anne Waiguru.
To show Magoha is still calling the shots, sources say he armtwisted Mbithi and a position was created for him to oversee the completion of the new University of Nairobi Towers which was started under  his tenure.
Ironically, it was Magoha who announced that the university has given him a new job. This he did during the official handing over the instruments of power to Mbithi. During his speech, he said he does not regret his 10-year term having expired but admitted that given another opportunity, he will continue doing what he has already done for the university.
“However, I want to confirm that the University Council and my successor, have mandated me to oversee the ongoing construction of our new building,” said Magoha.
He is also tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the completion of another university construction work currently underway in Kisumu. Before leaving office, Magoha is said to have begun the construction of a campus at a cost of more than Sh1 billion in Kisumu.
The 22-storey University of Nairobi Towers is next to the main administration block and is expected to cater for at least 5,000 students once it is complete. 
But even as Magoha continues to oversee the completion of the University of Nairobi Towers which was his brainchild, it is claimed that the tender for the construction was controversial and at one time ended up in court. There were claims that Magoha had influenced some consultants to win tenders in the project.
One Stephen Nyarangi and Centre for Multi-Party Democracy had filed a petition at Nairobi High Court (Petition 222 of 2013) where Magoha was named as first respondent.
In the petition dated April 24 2013, the petitioners were seeking a declaration that the provisions of the public procurement   of goods, works and services and that any procurement done in contravention of the express provisions of the public procurements and Disposal Act is unlawful, illegal, null and void and is not binding on the 2nd Respondent (Magoha) and or its constituent colleges.
The petitioners also sought a declaration that the appointment of AS Kitololo (Conveyor and Structural Engineer), AW Ogwayo (Electrical Engineer), JM Litondo (Mechanical Engineer), I Ismail (Geotechnical Engineer) and AS Marjan (Quantity Surveyor) as providers of consultancy services to the University of Nairobi Towers on January 23 2013 contravened the law and hence was null and void.
In a ruling dated May 28 2013, Justice Isaac Lenaola dismissed the case and allowed the construction work to proceed as planned. The ruling reads: “I find no merit in the Petition and the final orders will be as follows; The Petition dated April 24 2013 is hereby dismissed, as there are other ongoing proceedings relating to the same subject, let each party bear its own costs”.
It is alleged the creation of the non-existent position to accommodate Magoha was a plot by himself and Mbithi to achieve personal goals. It is not a secret that Magoha and Mbithi are buddies and  Mbithi is known to have worked closely with Magoha’s during his tenure. Those who know them say he was the only DVC Magoha would allow representing him at local and international foras. There was talk at the university that he was secretly addressed as acting VC whenever Magoha was out of the country.
The intense lobbying has been occasion by the fact that most of those who end up as VCs including Magoha were once DVC, Administration and Finance. The position therefore has been used as a stepping stone to the VC’s office.
Apart from being used as a ladder to the top university seat, the position is equally powerful and although there are other VCs such as the deputy vice-chancellor (Student Affairs) and deputy vice-chancellor, Research, Production and Extension, the ones on Finance and Administration are considered the number two in command after the VC.
To show how powerful the position is, the DVC, Administration and Finance, is the head of the Administration and Finance Divisions of the University and the function of this office includes management of personnel matters, finance and assets.
The DVC, Administration and Finance, is also the chairman of appointments committee for non-academic staff within the central administration of the university up to the level of senior assistant registrar and other equivalent non-teaching staff grades.
Back to the Mbithi, Magoha and Kaimenyi lobbying, we have also gathered that Magoha and Kaimenyi have been having rough time at the university.
It is remembered that Magoha was the first vice chancellor of a Kenyan public university to go through a competitive recruitment process that was carried out by the PriceWaterhouse Coopers in 2004.
The bad blood between Magoha and Kaimenyi dates back to 2004 when they both contested the position of VC. During the interviews conducted by PWC, a list of three final contenders emerged with Magoha leading, followed by Kaimenyi who was then the deputy vice chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs.
Immediately he became the university boss, Magoha started by relegating those who opposed him. It is said that he used to oppress  Kaimenyi who had no say at the university. When Kaimenyi was named cabinet secretary, he at one time moved to fix Magoha by calling for the audit of money received from private ventures such as parallel degrees, Chiromo Mortuary, hospitals and hotel business.
Other DCVs include HW Mutoro from Western Kenya. He is the DCV (Academic Affairs) and also the head of the Academic Division. Another is Isaac Mbeche who is the DVC (Student Affairs). Mbeche comes from Kisii.