We’re broke, Moi University now admits

Moi University is in arrears of at least Sh5 billion. [File, Standard]

Moi University has confirmed it is facing serious financial challenges on the back of revelations by the Auditor-General that the institution is technically insolvent.

The Auditor-General, Nancy Gathungu, said in a 2018-2019 report released recently that the university’s debts had exceeded Sh4.5 billion.

Moi University Council chairperson Dr. Humphrey Njuguna says debts have accrued to more than Sh5 billion, consequently paralysing operations.

The institution of higher learning attributes its financial woes to the closure of satellite campuses and the scrapping of certain courses two years ago.

“[It is true] we have financial challenges,” said Njuguna. “I can, however, confirm that the university Council has formulated a plan that would avert the collapsing of the institution,” he added.

Dr. Njuguna said Moi University seeks to diversify its sources of income to stay afloat.

Besides the closure of campuses and the discontinuation of courses, the Council chairperson attributed the varsity’s financial challenges to a bloated workforce and a reduced number of student enrollment.

He said as of today, Moi University has a student population of 30,000, down from 50,000 a few years ago.

Dr. Njuguna said a 6,500-seater Amphitheatre launched at the institution on Tuesday, September 21 would help generate income for the troubled university.

“This project will allow the institution to host local and international conferences, promote the preservation of the culture and performing arts,” he said.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) on September 9 announced that it had launched a probe into allegations that the university had been paying salaries to ghost workers. As a result, EACC demanded payroll records of all staff since July 1, 2018.

It is reported that the institution has at least 10,000 staff members, with 1,000 of those on payroll alleged to be ghost workers.

Dr Njuguna says the institution welcomes EACC’s investigations into its payroll composition.

“It’s not true that we have ghost workers at Moi University,” he said, adding: “The institution has a strong Human Resources management system that wouldn’t allow the existence of ghost workers.”

According to Dr Njuguna, Moi University “is facing financial challenges just like many other Kenyan public universities”.

As part of efforts to shore up its dwindling finances, in June this year Moi University began cultivating apples on its 100-acre farm with its eyes set on the macro market. The institution hopes to expand the farm to 1,000 acres.

University Education Principal Secretary Simon Nabukwesi urged institutions of higher learning to embrace alternative sources of income as ways to keep operations running.

A section of Moi University staff members has accused the institution of delaying their salaries for months, resulting in them being blacklisted or defaulting on loans.

The university’s Vice-Chancellor Prof. Isaac Kosgey says he is optimistic that the institution will bounce back to profitability, terming the challenges as “manageable”.