If there ever was an envious story of a private institution of higher learning in Kenya then it would be that of Daystar University.
But incessant student protests over claims of arbitrary fee hike and lack of value for money pulled back a veil that led to the ouster of Vice-Chancellor Timothy Wachira, pending investigations, last year. In the last five months, the university has been closed thrice.
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In a bid to restore calm, the University Council through the Chairman George Khroda recently suspended operations and activities of Daystar University Students Association (Dusa), DaystarUniversity General Staff Association (Dugsa) and Senior Staff Association of Daystar University (SSADU).
Trouble in the university escalated when the three unions demanded that the university makes a controversial audit report public.
But the university’s acting Vice Chancellor, James Kombo, says several factors are hampering the university from releasing the report.
“When you receive a report of that nature, it belongs to whoever commissioned it. For instance, Daystar University Council gave a timeline during which the One Source Messrs team was to act by February 15 and present a draft to the Council. The Council would then propose it and identify areas to take note of and actions thereafter,” he says.
Besides, the University Council wants many members to be part of the report accordingly because it has sent out invitations and hopes the attendance of the Council will be 90 per cent and above.
“The issue is that the Council is international and gathering them together to adopt the report and be able to identify areas that need different issues has been difficult. April 24 has been set for the full Council to meet, where they will receive the report and release it to the University and the general public,” he adds.
Further complicating matters is mistrust over a crucial body formed to oversee the institution, the Daystar University Parents Association (Dupa). A parallel parents steering committee has added to the confusion on how to best oversight the university management.
“Money that is contributed towards Dupa cannot be accounted for and their silence is loud. It appears as if the council is trying to run down the University so that a private owner can purchase it,” Jared Ouko, a parent under the newly formed committee, says.
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However, Dupa official Dorothy Nge’the refutes the claims saying neither its executive nor the university is complaining.
And then there is abuse of office and nepotism claims. Our source intimated that Prof Krhoda, is a close ally to embattled Prof Wachira. But the former VC denied this terming them unfounded rumours. Dickson Wainaina, Wachira’s nephew is the Audit Manager at Daystar.
The former VC’s decision to approve the sale of 45 acres parcel of land has also sparked controversy. The land had been set aside for the development of staff housing since the era of former Vice-Chancellors Stephen Talitwala and Godfrey Nguru.
The sale agreement of this land in our possession dated June 10, 2016 indicates Daystar University sold 5 acres of the land to Benson Ashitiva Mandale. Others of interest in the land include Haba na Haba ventures limited, Lukenya Housing Co-operative Society amongst others who colluded to purchase the land at throw away price.
Daystar had also set aside Sh200 million for the construction of Daystar Academic Centre Building but the tender shot to Sh320 million.
Documents in our possession show that Daystar in their quest to have the 8km road stretch linking the Athi River campus and the Mombasa highway upgraded to bitumen standard irregularly engaged a consultant to ‘lobby’ government on their behalf. The contract was not only single sourced but also raises questions on why a consultant was paid a whopping Sh4.5 million to lobby the government. Project was awarded to Sivad Construction Limited at a cost of Sh520 million.
And a dam projected to hold 42 million gallons of water was proposed following the recommendation of Engineering Ministry International, based in Kampala.
Funds for the project were reportedly a donation from USA, but it turns out that the university has been paying for the construction.