By Calvin Osiemo
Cabinet Secretary to the Ministry of Education Prof. Jacob Kaimenyi has said that the ministry is not going to replace the embattled University of Eldoret- Vice Chancellor Teresa Akenga on the basis of her tribal background. This follows pressure from locals who want the Vice Chancellor be replaced by ‘one of their own’ which means one from their tribe in that region. Uasin Gishu Senator Paul Melly lately led demonstrations accompanied by some locals demanding the removal of Prof. Akenga from the VC’s position accusing her of corruption allegations and nepotism which led to the closure of the institution.
Speaking to the Senate Education Committee chaired by Kirinyaga Senator Daniel Kabara, CS Prof. Kaimenyi has said that the government will not bow to pressure because this will display a bad image if at all public servants can be evicted from their positions because of their tribe.
“We can’t convert universities to be tribal. Universality of universities must be maintained lest we balkanize the country,” said Prof. Kaimenyi.
Prof. Kaimenyi has called upon those calling for Prof. Akenga’s replacement to give her ample time to execute her duties in the institutions. He also urged those who had applied for the position but did not qualify to stop destabilizing Prof. Akenga’s tenure in office. He said the Vice Chancellor was appointed because of her qualifications.
“We should allow others to run the institutions of higher learning. We can’t allow resistance. I instructed them to be firm and move on. She is there on merit. After all, they didn’t even qualify,” Prof. Kaimenyi said.
Speaking in the same Senate Education Committee seating, University of Eldoret council chairman Prof. Sarone ole Sena accompanied by Prof. Akenga said they had no option but to close down the university indefinitely until the power struggle issues are sorted out amicably. He expressed his disappointment in the leaders who organized the demonstration calling for the VC’s replacement and plans to frustrate the management of the institution.
“It is unfortunate that local leaders had ganged up with some youths to frustrate the Vice Chancellor. They want to own and localize the University. Imagine, if all counties were to claim a university in their area,” Prof. Sena asked.
In a bid to clear the air on nepotism claims leveled against her, Prof. Akenga has maintained that the university staffs are hired according to the institutions policy. She went ahead to explain that even most of the staff are from the Rift Valley region.
The University’s council chair Prof. Sena told the committee that they have made a huge step in reconciling the disputing sides in order to restore proper service delivery. He also made it clear that the institution has sealed all the loopholes after corruption claims emerged.
“We have explained how the Vice Chancellor was selected to the leaders. We have told the community that this is a public university and not a community college. The council has summoned those who plotted to irregularly withdraw funds without the Vice Chancellor’s consent, yet it was clear that withdrawals beyond a certain limit cannot be done without her involvement,” he said