A stand-off between students and the management has disrupted learning at Meru University for a whole academic year.
The management is accusing the student leadership of hooliganism and being compromised by the political class, while the students blame the administration for financial mismanagement and mistreatment of learners opposed to the vice.
The impasse has drawn the attention of former Education Assistant Minister and presidency adviser on education Kilemi Mwiria, who hails from Tigania West constituency where the university is located, and several other political and community leaders.
Dr Mwiria attributed the university's wrangles to local politics.
He said since the time he was MP, he was of the opinion that the university's vice chancellor should be a non-Meru to avoid being influenced by the community and regional politics.
He said nepotism and clannism in hiring staff at the university had also affected the university management, leading to misuse of resources.
Mwiria observed that for development to be realised, the current management should exit.
“I personally do not think they are leading this institution to greatness. The institution is more likely to die a slow death,” said Mwiria.
He said there was a complex group that was defending the current management, which also saw the resignation of the former Vice Chancellor Kaaria Atumo.
“Those defending bad leadership because he is one of their own cannot be said to care about Meru youths and generations to come,” added Mwiria.
Area MP John Mutunga said the poor working relationship between the university leadership, the community and other stakeholders was undermining the institution's status.
“The issues raised by the students seem to be genuine but the university has refused to dialogue and when students request for dialogue, the management calls in the police,” said Mr Mutunga.
However, sources at the university blamed clan politics and politicians from the region for compromising the student leaders to revolt against the leadership of Prof Japhet Magambo, who is seen as an outsider by Tigania politicians. Magambo is from Imenti sub-tribe.
A WhatsApp group “Operation Magambo out” has been formed with its membership being students and politicians.
In a phone interview, the vice chancellor said a political group from the region wanted him out.
"They are using student leadership to taint my name," he averred.
The vice chancellor exonerated himself from students' allegations he misappropriated Sh41 million meant for a playground.
Magambo also denied raising the fee against the Ministry of Education regulations.
Last week, the university was closed indefinitely following a four-day student unrest over alleged fee increment.
Evans Njoroge, the secretary general of the students’ council said they would continue with their push for justice.
"This is our fifth strike in one semester. We are asking the ministry to look into the fee issue. While students in other universities pay Sh33,000 in an academic year, we are required to pay more than Sh50,000,” noted Njoroge.