President Uhuru with Meru Senator Hon Kiraitu Murungi, governor Peter Munga and Education CS Prof Jacob Kaimenyi on Friday 27th Feb 2015 during the president’s tour of Meru county
By JOHN MULUSYA
Political tension is rife within the Mt.Kenya region in anticipation of the appointment of the new vice chancellor. Politicians from Mt Kenya East are determined to have one of their own occupy the now vacant University of Nairobiâ€™s position of deputy vice chancellor administration and finance.
The politicians including Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi,Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki ,Embu Senator Lenny Kivuti,Mbeere North MP Muriuki Njagagua and Runyenjesâ€™ Cecily Mbarire have appealed to the President to ensure that the Mt Kenya East region gets their fair reward of loyalty in various appointments.
During the recent tour of the President and the deputy President in the area, the leaders specifically pointed out the need to appoint Prof Enos Njeru claiming that if appointed, he will be the first Mbeere person to be appointed to such a position since independence.
After the elevation of Peter Mbithi to the position of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nairobi, the race is now on for his replacement with three candidates having emerged. The three include Isaac Kibwage of the college of Health Sciences, Enos Njeru who is the principal of Humanities and Social sciences and Benard Njoroge who is the principal of the college of Architecture and Engineering and who is brother of Energy PS Joseph Njoroge.
According to the Universities Act, the university council forwards three names to the cabinet secretary of Education to be considered for appointment of which the cabinet can pick any of the three. A number of factors may significantly play a role in determining the appointee. Such factors include experience in administration, academic qualification, gender, ethnic balance and minority considerations.
At the University of Nairobi, there are four deputizing positions currently held by Lucy Irungu a Kikuyu, Isaac Mbeche; a Kisii, Henry Mutoro; a Luhya and another yet to be filled. It is against this background that the Cabinet Secretary is expected to consider a person from a community other the ones the above hail from.
Given the equation of ethnic balance Prof Njeru who comes from the minority Mbeere is in an advantaged position. Should they appoint Kibwage, there would be two Kisiis out four while Appointing Njoroge will mean having two Kikuyus out of four.
For Njeru, he would be the only Mbeere and the only one representing minorities in top university administrative structure. It is worth noting that apart from Prof Lucy Irungu occupying the position of deputy vice chancellor in charge of research, Kikuyu hold key positions that include chief finance -Michael Karue, chief internal auditor-a Mr. Igiria Njoroge, chief legal officer-Rebecca Wambui Ngondo, chief security officer-Wahome, dean of students-Fr.Kimani Wamugunda and academic registrar-BM Waweru among others.
It is also emerging that there were claims that the council was not fair in their ranking and money exchanged hands apart from accusations the interviewing panel is dominated by four Kikuyu out 10 members who might have had an influence in determining who emerged tops.
In terms of experience and academic qualification, Njoroge was promoted to full professor three weeks ago and never served as dean. He is also the principal of the smallest college with a population of less than 2000 students and 50 lecturers.
Kibwage has been a full professor for seven years and previously served as dean School of Pharmacy and the principal of College of Health Sciences which is the second largest where he has overseen major infrastructural developments for the last nine years through his fundraising prowess from donor communities.
Njeru who heads the College of Humanities has been a full professor for eight years and presides over the largest college that controls over 60pc of UON. The college has over 45,000 students and over 800 members of the academic staff. The college has 5 campuses namely; Main campus, Kisumu Campus, Mombasa Campus, Parklands Campus and Lower Kabete campus.
There are fears amongst students and staff that should ethnic balance be thrown out of the window, UON could be thrown into chaos like what happened in Egerton University recently.