Vice Chancellor Prof Peter Mbithi: Him and Council Chairman Dr Idle Farah yet to respond to Cofek letter

We have since Friday, May 27, 2016 been unable to reach you on your respective cellphones. Be that as it may, and in line with Article 35 of the Constitution, we hereby request to hear from you urgently regarding the following matters; 

  1. University Council Membership 
  • The resignation of Dr Betty Gikonyo and Mr Joseph Dena. In particular, the resignation letter of Mr Dena to Education Cabinet Secretary on November 25, 2015 raises fundamental questions of non-compliance with the law. What action was taken as a result – to professionalize the operations of the Council?
  • Why are two members, being public servants at the Teachers Service Commission and Moi University, continuing to sit on the UoN Council contrary to the circular by Chief of Staff and Head of the Public Service dated February 3, 2016?
  • Whether or not Dr Sanjay Advani is a Kenyan national and if yes, provide a copy of his national ID and or his Passport.
  • Why the Chairman of University Council, himself with uncleared graft allegations against him at the National Museums of Kenya, sits as Chairman of the University of Nairobi Enterprise Services Ltd – a clear conflict of interest.
  • Why Prof Peter Mulwa Felix Mbithi, Vice Chancellor, attended (and later excused himself) the special meeting of the UoN Council held on Monday, May 23rd at 7.30 am in the Council Chambers to consider the disciplinary case of Prof Bernard N.K Njoroge, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration and Finance) when he is an obvious interested party in the matter. It was the only agenda. 
  • Whether the allegations of the said special UoN Council meeting, as recorded under Minute 5(a) and as read together with Minute 5(c) constitute gross misconduct threshold sufficient to have high ranking officer, in the history of the UoN, to be recommended for sacking “with immediate effect”.
  • Why there appears to be a dysfunctional Council between members listed in Minute 5(c) and those under Minute 5(d) of the special UoN Council meeting
  • Why on many occasions, the Vice Chancellor has been communicating directly to the DVC(A&F) supposedly on behalf of the UoN Council when the said Prof Mbithi is an interested party in the said disciplinary process.
  • Whether it was the said DVC (A&F) who may have “leaked the minutes of the special UoN Council as to occasion the erroneous reporting in the “Saturday Nation” of May 28, 2016 which article alleged that DVC(A&F) had been sacked. An ambiguous retraction by the UoN via a paid advertisement on Sunday, May 29, 2016 could not elaborate clearly on an issue of such immense public interest. 
  1. Appointment and Terms of Service of DVC (A&F) 
  • According to the appointment letter by CS for Education Prof Jacob T. Kaimenyi of April 30, 2016 it was stated that the “terms and conditions of the service shall be provided for in the contract document provided by the Council of the University”. Are the said terms determined by the Council and or Statute V? If no/yes, what is the process and frequency of amending the said terms between various office holders of the office of the DVC (A&F)?
  • In the letter of November 27, 2015 suspending DVC(A&F) under Ref: CoC/06/27112015, Chairman of Council stated that the said DVC (A&F) will only be entitled to house and medical allowances. Is this the standard rate of entitlements for staff on suspension, particularly as provided for by the Employment Act and related labour laws? Were the said allowances ever paid?
  • The Chairman of Council letter to the DVC(A&F) of August 10, 2015 under subject “Gross Misconduct/Show Cause Letter” appears to suggest that the said DVC (A&F) ought to comply with all instructions of the Vice Chancellor. Does that requirement include unlawful and unethical instructions as long as they are issued by VC to the said DVC(A&F)?
  • The “Cappings of the University Expenditure”, letter dated August 3, 2015 by the Vice Chancellor to the said DVC (A&F) are in sharp contrast with the bold notes on all UoN payment vouchers which state that either the DVC/VC can approve amounts “over Sh100,000”. 
  1. Expenditures – Process and Approvals 
  • What is the policy on “Accountable advance” eg the case in which the Estates Manager vide Internal Memo of May 21, 2015 seeks Sh200,000 for assorted items for the Vice Chancellor’s Mandera Road official residence? This is in addition to Sh6,000,000 for furniture? Why should such items be procured through restricted tendering?
  • Why regular consultancy payments to one Prof Timothy Waema, a staff at UoN, e.g his July 13, 2015 memo to DVC(AA) under Ref SCI/APM/TMW was Sh400,000 for (eight days!) alleged development of a “strategic plan for Mombasa Law Campus”. Can one person purport to put up a strategic plan? How is expertise related to the law school? 
  1. University Expenses on Rattansi Education Trust “donated office” 

The internal memo from UoN Estates Manager directly to the Vice Chancellor on July 27, 2015 under Ref UoN/CA/EST sought permission, which was approved by the same Vice Chancellor on July 28, 2015, to spend Sh1,666,800 on alleged repairs on an office donated by the Trust. Incidentally, Vijoo Rattansi is the Chancellor of the University. On what basis was the costly offer accepted? Why was the “Advancement Directorate” placed out of the University premises? Was it a lease and or under what circumstances was the arrangement agreed to? Again, why and on what basis was one Brian, a PA to the Chancellor appointed Deputy Director of the said “Advancement Directorate”? What was the role of the said “Directorate” and when did the University Senate approve its’ creation? We have since spoken to Ms Rattansi but her responses were not sufficient. 

  1. Vice Chancellor’s Hotel Expenses in Machakos 

Why and how did the University of Nairobi pay Gelian Hotel in Machakos County Sh30,000 per night for the Vice Chancellor for use of what the hotel calls “Presidential Suite” when the SRC limit for the Vice Chancellor’s equivalent of Job Group “U” is much less? 

  1. Cow gifts to various state/public officers 

Why did a Farm Manager Dr T.O Abuom at the UoN College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences (CAVs) write directly to a Finance Manager at Main Campus on February 9, 2016? Where was the Principal, CAVs? The Vice Chancellor approved the same on February 23, 2016. According to Invoice No. 27010 of UNES of January 22, 2015 the University paid Sh100,000 each for 2 Freshian cows and Sh90,000 each for 2 Ayrshire cows at a total of Sh380,000. 

Why were the University funds used to procure the cows “gifts” for what was announced as ‘personal gifts” from the Vice Chancellor on the January 14, 2015 event? We have since spoken to former Education Cabinet Secretary Prof Jacob Kaimenyi who denied having ever received a cow. Former Vice Chancellor Prof George Magoha confirmed, without giving the exact number of the said cows, although he reported that they all died. How many, if any, were retained by the Vice Chancellor? 

  1. Double Payments for Per Diems by and for Vice Chancellor 

A memo by Prof Isaac Kibwage, Principal CHS to Vice Chancellor dated September 3, 2015 under Ref: UON/CHS/OBS&GYNAE-PRIME-K/7/3/2 asked for approval of US$11,176 to the Vice Chancellor for the both to travel to US for an event the University of Washington, Department of Global Health confirmed by its letter dated July 27, 2015 to have fully paid for. 

The same letter is actually addressed to Vice Chancellor Prof Peter Mulwa Felix Mbithi. It states in part thus: “Your accommodation while in Seattle will be at Hotel Decca which is within walking distance of the University of Washington. All travel related expenses (airfare, accommodation, ground transportation and per diem) for your visit are covered by Partnership for Innovative Medical Education in Kenya, a grant funded by PEPFAR and the US National Institutes of Health”. 

  1. Conflict of Interest by VC Relative of University Health Services 

Catherine Mawia Musyoka, a niece of the Vice Chancellor, was a clinical officer at the University Health Services until April 2015 when she was appointed to position of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Coordinator. She is said to have used her position to benefit herself. She is alleged to have been influencing referrals to an Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation  facility at Syokimau, Mlolongo in which she holds interests. The University was to pay her firm Fountain of Hope Treatment Centre Sh1,306,201. Sh399,000 was already paid. Even when the Chief Security Officer, confirmed the conflict of interest, the surcharge is yet to be made and no disciplinary action to date has been commenced. Please confirm why. When reached on phone for clarification Ms Musyoka, declined to confirm or deny the allegations. 

  1. Huge Telephone Bills By the Vice Chancellor 

It is striking that the Vice Chancellor spends as much as Sh333,181 on phone. This is an example of how much he spent between October 1 – 31, 2015 on his personal line 0721214*** with roaming charges amounting to Sh253,624.87. This can only confirm that the Vice Chancellor spends too much time out of the country and or that he hardly delegates to the extent that he must be called on every occasion by too many staff. In the event his instruction limiting the DVC(A&F) to Sh100,000 approvals, does again expect himself to approve outrageous telephone bills of Sh333,181 on personal phone to himself? 

  1. Double Standards in Handling Staff Welfare Issues 

The unceremonial termination of duties by the Vice Chancellor (personally) on Chief Legal Officer Rebecca Ngondo; Chief Internal Auditor Peter Igiria and Finance Officer Michael Karue is in sharp contrast how the questionable contract extension for Dean of Students Dr (Fr) Wamugunda was handled. 

On January 5, 2015 DVC (AA) Prof Henry W. Mutoro asked Dr (Fr) Wamugunda to retire by July 9, 2016 owing to his attainment of the 60 years mandatory retirement age. In unclear circumstances, the Vice Chancellor received a fresh memo from Administration Registrar (a G.P Mbugua) requesting him to approve an additional 10 years so Dr (Fr) Wamugunda retires at 70 years. In essence Mbugua went against his own recommendation – of September 5, 2015 then addressed to DVC (A&F). Note that his latest memo was addressed directly to the Vice Chancellor. 

As expected, the Vice Chancellor swiftly “approved” the same on March 9, 2015. In a fairly embarrassing development, DVC (AA) Prof Henry W. Mutoro turned against his letter of January 5, 2015 and re-addressed Dr (Fr) Wamugunda on March 17, 2015 under Ref: CN/17695/173 this time claiming thus:

“After due consideration, and owing to the teaching workload you are engaged in, it has been decided (by the Vice Chancellor) that your retirement age shall be seventy (70) years. Therefore you will retire from the service of the University of Nairobi on July 9, 2026 and not July 9, 2016 as earlier communicated”. 

  1. Tender for Outsourcing Private Security Services 

Tender was awarded at a cost of Sh6,990, 000 per month to Lavington Security Ltd on September 30, 2015. This was immediately varied by 74.5% to Sh12,200,000 per month. The maximum allowable variation is 10%. 

  1. Award of Fire Insurance Cover Tender to Amaco Insurance 

On October 14, 2014 UoN Tender Committee awarded various companies. They were however cancellations on allegations that there was a leakage of awards and existing firms were extended to continue up to October 31, 2014. At this point then DVC (A&F) and current Vice Chancellorwas Chairman of Central Tender Committee. At this point Amaco Insurance was not listed because it had been discovered that one of the its’ directors was a member of the Kenya Universities and Colleges Placement Board. The tender was re-advertised. A technical evaluation was done by a Committee chaired by George Omondi. It was later presented to Tender Committee chaired by Prof Peter Kobonyo which awarded the tender to Kenyan Alliance insurance companyfor Sh31 million. It is alleged the Vice Chancellor declined to sign the offer/award letter and reportedly summoned the Technical Evaluation Committee to repeat the evaluation . The award was made to Amaco Insurance. 

CONCLUSION 

Even as the UoN Council has showed excessive enthusiasm in acting against its’ DVC (A&F), it is evident that it continues to turn a blind eye to the massive governance, corruption and other related scandals. It is on this basis that note as follows; 

  • A comprehensive response on the matters raised herein (please not that they are not exhaustive)
  • That the University of Nairobi be notified that Cofek may proceed to Court, at its’ discretion, if it concludes that the University Vice Chancellor and Chairman of Council continues to remain uncooperative – in their evident unwillingness to respond to our calls
  • That University of Nairobi is not exempt from the rule of law and in particular Articles 4(2), 10, 35, 46, 75 and 232 and indeed the entire Constitution.
  • That the University procurement, tendering and staff welfare matters ought to undergo an independent forensic audit. 

By copy, the Cabinet Secretary for Education is requested to note and act accordingly. Thank you.

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For the record, Cofek office received a call from one John Orindi styling claiming to be University of Nairobi Public Relations Officer (never mind his bad personal PR) demanding to know the mandate of Cofek. He was asked to request his seniors to respond to our letter of May 30, 2016

Comments  

#2 stanesrus bosire 2016-06-05 08:55
Am glad that atleast Cofek has finally come into help.The university is on total fire.I urge you to do everything possible to see that order and responsible use of funds in the uiversity is back to normal.
Thank you in advance.
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#1 Faulu Suba 2016-06-04 11:52
Thank you for always standing up on behalf of consumers. Indeed students are consumers and deserve the very best from institutions of Higher Learning. They can only get the best of the institutions are managed efficiently and effectively. In a bid to have Kenyan Public Universities serve education consumers better, can a research be done and universities be annually ranked on graduate research supervision and throughput efficiency...
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