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University of Nairobi chiefs, Vice Chancellor Peter Mbithi and his deputy Bernard Njoroge, row on management

By Augustine Oduor | Published Fri, August 14th 2015 at 00:00, Updated August 14th 2015 at 00:16 GMT +3

Wrangles in the top management of the University of Nairobi has emerged which could dent the premier institution.

Correspondence between Vice Chancellor Peter Mbithi and his deputy Bernard Njoroge, who is in charge of Administration and Finance, reveals a strained working relationship.

In his letter to University Council Chairperson Idle Farah, dated August 4, Prof Njoroge accused Prof Mbithi of meddling in his office administration affairs, adding that he will not be pushed to sycophancy.

“I am personally seeking protection of the council to facilitate the discharge of the mandate of the office of deputy vice chancellor in charge of administration and finance (DVC A&F) in word and deed and not as the head of a small unit as the Vice Chancellor clearly intends,” reads the letter to Dr Farah.

He added, “Sycophancy has no place in the present constitutional dispensation or in my chequered career.”

The letter was written just hours after Mbithi released new university expenditure guidelines to Njoroge.

“I have given new guidelines with regard to approvals for expenditure. From now henceforth, all expenditure of Sh100,000 and above will be approved by the vice chancellor with the recommendation of DVC A&F,” said Mbithi.

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He said the decision was taken “on account of the current very critical cash flow situation being experienced at the University”.

“It has become necessary to institute additional controls on expenditure...expenditure below this threshold (Sh100,000) will continue as per the current practice, but with full consultation with and guidance from the DVC A&F,” reads the letter seen by The Standard.

But in his protest letter to the council, Njoroge said he draws his mandate from the statutes.

“Statute V (4) reads; the DVC A&F shall be the head of administration and finance division of the university whose functions include management of personnel matters, finance and assets,” he said.

He believes Mbithi’s letter is “demeaning and disrespectful”. Njoroge said the latter has already moved some core functions to his office, adding that this is meant to undermine him.

“The VC has already moved the functions of performance contract to his office. I do not wish to contest this move but the council should look into this,” he said.

He also explains that he has been instrumental in disallowing the University Management Board expensive expenditures. “One of my greatest duty and virtue is to ensure cost containment and which I have openly demonstrated in the course of the last two months,” he said.

Njoroge said he does not intend to observe the instructions of the vice chancellor. “I have no intention of complying with the instructions he is co callously issuing and I intend to continue performing the functions of the office of the DVC A&F in full compliance with the statute,” said Njoroge. However, in his letter dated August 10, Farah instructed Njoroge to obey the instructions of the VC, saying Mbithi is the university’s accounting officer.

“Since you had categorically stated that you have no intention of complying with the instructions of the VC, who is the supervisor, you are now required within seven working days of receipt of this letter, to show cause to the council through its chair why disciplinary action against you on ground of discipline, gross misconduct, insubordination and incitement should not be taken,” said Farah.


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