A crisis is brewing at the University of Nairobi as two senior staff claim that they legitimately occupy the office of the vice-chancellor.
Prof Stephen Kiama, who sought six months leave which was approved and granted by the university council, returned barely three weeks into his sabbatical.
When he took leave, the council appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs Julius Ogeng’o as the acting VC.
The council decision granting Prof Kiama leave has not been vacated. Similarly, the council decision that appointed Prof Ogeng’o as acting VC has not been vacated.
This means that both Prof Ogeng’o and Prof Kiama claim to occupy the VCs office at the premier institution.
Prof Kiama cut short his leave and returned to office, saying he does not need permission from Council to resume work.
“No response is needed. I have a contract that lasts five years and I don’t need to request to come back,” said Prof Kiama.
He, however, said that he had written to the council notifying them of his return.
Section 35 (1) (a) of the Universities Act read together with Section 18 (8) (a) of the University of Nairobi charter, however, says that council approval ought to have been sought before Prof Kiama resumed office.
A council meeting scheduled on Saturday was called off without reasons given.
The letter calling the meeting was attributed to the Director, Legal and Corporate Board Service Collins Omondi.
“Notice is hereby issued for the special council meeting to be held on Saturday 2nd September 2023 at 9:00am, in the council chamber, 19th floor, UoN Towers. The agenda will be tabled,” the notice reads.
The notice further stated that permission from the Education Cabinet Secretary has been secured to hold the meeting. Prof Kiama said he was not invited to the meeting.
The Sunday Standard established that the wrangles at the university may have taken a political twist, prompting the cancellation of the council meeting.
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Questions have, however, emerged over contents of the letter written by Prof Kiama and which did not make reference to his pending leave days. Requesting for leave, in his letter dated July 28, 2023, Prof Kiama said: “I wish to request annual leave from August 1, 2023 in order to exhaust all my accumulated leave days before end of my contract.”
But in his letter dated August 31 to the Council, Prof Kiama said: “The issues that unfortunately led me to seek leave, including some issues of personal health, have now thankfully been resolved and I am now able to return re-energised to immediately resume my duties as Vice Chancellor with effect from Friday 1st September 2023,” the letter reads.
The letter is copied to Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, Education CS Ezekiel Machogu, Chief of Staff Felix Koskei, Higher Education PS Beatrice Inyangala, and Prof Ogeng’o.