I will not take leave, Prof Kiama tells council as students weigh in

Embattled University of Nairobi Vice-Chancellor Prof. Stephen Kiama. [Samson Wire. Standard]

Embattled University of Nairobi (UoN) Vice Chancellor Stephen Kiama has dismissed a directive by the council to take leave, arguing that he has the right to choose when to take rest from his office duties.

Prof Kiama also said no meetings were convened to ratify the directive by the council.

“Some of those communications that you have seen are not necessarily the resolution of the council, they are expressions of opinions. When the council makes resolutions, they are communicated by the secretary to the council and that is the office of the Vice Chancellor,” he said.

Prof Kiama spoke during an interview with The Standard on Thursday as it emerged that he committed in his employment contract not to exceed 90 accumulated leave days.

“You will be entitled to 45 working days leave per annum to be taken at such a time as the exigencies of your duties as Vice Chancellor permit provided that no leave shall be accumulated in excess of 90 working days,” the contract seen by The Standard reads.

But the VC argued that the university allows him to remain a UoN staff as a professor after the lapse of his tenure and can utilise his leave days then.

“I have provided a plan on how to spend my leave days, and in this financial year, I have taken 30 leave days, and maybe I will take some more days before December,” Kiama said.

The VC moved to clear the air on a day two student factions, one in his support and the other in support of the council also weighed in in the controversy of the university leadership.

Those supporting the council indicated that the ongoing conflict hurts the university’s day-to-day operations and urged Kiama to obey the council’s decision and give way to Prof Ayub Gitau, who was named acting Vice Chancellor.

“After hearing the grievances and ongoing wrangles at the university, we decided to form an ad-hoc committee to probe the matter and we learnt that the council is the employer of all staff in the university and the VC should proceed on leave,” said Ngetich Soi, the University of Nairobi Student Association (Unisa) head of public service.

On the other hand, the faction in support of Prof Kiama noted that some  council members want frustrate the VC and want to sabotage his reform agenda.

“We are treating the change of the VC as a malicious act given that the last time a council meeting was held in the institution was on April 19,2024 and the decision to have the VC proceed on leave was not one of the agendas in that meeting,” claimed Joshua Parsime, student representative, Faculty of Building, Environment and Design.

He called for a harmonious working relationship to ensure tranquility in the institution. Kiama’s term in office will lapse in January 2025, marking an end to his first five-year term in office. However, despite the push and pull, he indicated that he will seek a second term upon expiry of his contract.