The Vice Chancellor, University of Nairobi (UoN) Prof. Peter Mbithi was recently accused by the staff union of corruption, abuse of office, incompetence and running down the premier institution. The Universities Academic Staff Union, UoN chapter, demanded that Prof Mbithi quits office within three months, failure to which he would be forced out. Led by secretary general George Omondi, the members asked Education Cabinet secretary George Magoha to rescue the university from what they termed as Mbithi’s failed leadership.
As Mediamax reports, Mbithi is accused of buying furniture and equipment for his office worth Sh20 million without following procurement rules. “The furniture was delivered to his office on a Sunday to avoid being noticed. The purchase did not comply with procurement procedures and we want investigations on the matter,” Omondi said. Omondi also claimed the vice chancellor was constructing a private home in Karen, Nairobi, using the university’s labour, vehicles and materials. The VC, he said, had also allocated himself seven vehicles, which, he said, was against government guidelines and a wastage of scarce resources. Omondi said the workers were concerned that the university owes workers millions of shillings in outstanding arrears and in some instances, had failed to remit tax deductions to the Kenya Revenue Authority.
The union leaders accused Mbithi of using divide-and-rule tactics to run the institution, and questioned the motive of a meeting he called for all the institution’s professors. “The agenda of the meeting is not indicated but we have learnt that the purpose is to use the signatures of attendees to craft minutes indicating that they support the vice chancellor’s bid for second term,” said Omondi. “Professors are not for hire to support partisan agenda and in this case, personal interests. This is an insult to academia and abuse of constitutionally protected right of choice of staff of the university,” he said. The union asked the recently-inaugurated university council not to review Mbithi’s performance with the intention of giving him a second term.
Students have also been complaining about Mbithi’s leadership, with political student Orina Makori warning Mbithi of the audit that would bring to light his wine and samosa office parties.
“We request the University Council to recuse itself from participating in the review of Prof Mbithi’s application for a second term and allow competitive appointment of the next vice chancellor by legislated bodies,” Omondi said.