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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Rot at Machakos University smells to high heavens

Machakos University College stakeholders have petitioned Education cabinet secretary Jacob Kaimenyi to intervene and solve wrangles occasioned by protests against the university principal Francis Mathooko.
The principal who before his elevation served as the deputy vice chancellor in charge of academics and research at South Eastern University in Kitui is facing an onslaught from staff and students over his style of leadership which they term as dictatorial and oppressive.
Since taking over from acting principal Prof Godfrey Muse in 2012, Mathooko is accused of engaging in hiring lecturers and staff selectively leaving locals in the cold. For instance, he is accused of favouring staff he worked with at Seuco now Seku offering them good terms of employment and re-deploying them while the ones he found there, although they have the same qualifications, have been neglected. Since he assumed office, the principal allegedly embarked on cleaning the college by getting rid of staff that did not toe his line and went ahead to employ his cronies from Seku.
Those who benefitted include his PA a one Muthama who he picked from Seku. Muthama has allegedly been doing his errands including overseeing constructions of the principal five-story building in Machakos town which is now complete. The source of funds to put up such a project is suspect to many since it was started when he assumed office with key players alleging that he might have siphoned the money from the institution’s coffers.
His office secretary, a one Eunice was employed under unclear circumstances for she relocated the one who had served for decades in the office of the principal. She is said to have no papers and brought on board by the principal to allegedly help in concealing important information from his office.
Lecturers from Seku who have landed at the university allegedly without interviews include Florence Mmbagwa at the department of languages, one Kamwana now at the department of humanities, one Kimeu, Simiyu, Kiliku and one Prof Muola  who are known to be Mathooko’s cronies and spies within the administration.
The principal, it is claimed, with the help of his cronies, is now running the institution as a one-man show sidelining those who hold different opinion and issuing threats of sacking those who do not dance to his tune. According to sources inside the administration, his style of operations has put him at loggerheads with his deputy principal in charge of finance and administration Dr Kenneth Mavuti who has refused to play ball. He now prefers to deal with Dr Prisca Tuitoek who is in charge of academic and research and linkages at the college. Matters got out of hand when the deputy warned the principal against holding frequent council meetings against the law a move which infuriated the principal.
 Those privy to the council operations said the council meets three times a month with each of the nine members each pocketing Sh20, 000 per sitting. The meetings are organised by the principal to help him silence and pocket the council with some meetings taking place at posh hotels in Nairobi at the expense of the university.
The appointment of the council had started protests from locals over claim of exclusion with Machakos senator Johnson Muthama calling for its dissolution. Out of the nine members, only one comes from Machakos county. The others are known not to have any interest at heart for the college hence offering the opportunity for the embattled principal to allegedly mismanage the institution at his own whim. Learning at the institution has been a nightmare according to a student who sought anonymity. This worsening state of affairs has led to three protests from students since Mathooko took over, calling for his removal.
Apart from pocketing the university council members, he is also said to have a godfather at Jogoo house who ensures he stays at the helm even after serious allegations are levelled against him. He is known to brag that he is untouchable. The stakeholders now want the deal to acquire St Monica Secondary, a private girls’ school by the university investigated since a half of the council was against it. They claim that the valuation report was rushed for endorsement and the Asian owner lacked relevant documents for the ownership of the school. The Sh46m price is also high, according to prevailing market value for land in Machakos, a source privy to the transactions revealed.