Wainaina and Mugenda clash over closure of Kigali, Arusha campuses

Education CS Ezekiel Machogu (left) Kenyatta University Vice-Chancellor Paul Wainaina and KUTTRH Board Chair Prof Olive Mugenda before the Investment and Governance Committee. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

A probe into the closure of Kenyatta University campuses exposed the rift between the former Vice Chancellor Olive Mugenda and current VC Paul Wainaina.

The university administrators tore into each other on who is supposed to carry the blame for the closure of Kigali and Arusha campuses that led the government to lose hundreds of millions in the process.

Former Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i was also hard-pressed to explain his role in the closure.

But Vice Chancellor Prof Paul Wainaina and former VC Prof Olive Mugenda tore into each other over who was involved in the transaction.

The Investment and Governance Committee chaired by Bumula MP Jack Wamboka questioned why the government allowed the university to lose the huge money through the purchase and establishment of Kenyatta University campuses in Kigali, Rwanda and Tanzania satellites.

The documents revealed that the university spent Sh518,174,359 to set up two satellite campuses.

Sh420,749,207 was spent in establishing the Kigali campus and another Sh97,425,152 on Arusha Campus in Tanzania. Another Sh90,016,542 was spent on salaries, rental, operations and maintenance expenses.

However, the two campuses were closed down due to operational challenges apparently imposed by changes in legislation by the two governments.

Wamboka said this was done even after the university had met all the requirements and was ready to roll out programmes.

''Close to Sh0.6 billion lost and one year later before it started it was folded. It means the government doesn't have a policy or they are not operational,'' he said.

Narok MP Rebecca Ntokei wondered how the government would allow the establishment of campuses and let them close before taking off.

''You set up a satellite campus that is closed down even before it start operating. Don't you see the government has lost money,'' she asked.

Matiang'i said when he joined the ministry, in November 2015, and that the process of establishing those campuses was well underway.

Ministry role

''I did not establish the campuses. Secondly, campuses are not established by the Ministry, and you cannot claim that I established the campuses and closed a year later,'' Matiangi said.

Matiang'i was pushed to explain why the government decided to close the campus when the host countries were of the view to go on.

''We sent a team to Rwanda and the government said we should operate, contradicting you that the Rwanda government closed the institutions,'' Wamboka said.

In response, Matiang'i said the government was not going to gain anything from closing down the campuses its university had established, adding that the closure was part of the Tanzanian government whip on other 19 campuses.

''For the two years' time I was at the helm, we didn't have a problem with our campuses, it is the regulators in those countries who I think out of jealousy may have raised issues and closed our institutions,'' he said.

''The two governments closed the campuses, and we engaged the foreign affairs through our ambassador in Kigali to mediate the situation."

Imenti Central MP Moses Kirima revealed that on facts found in Rwanda, it emerged that the university was to purchase a ready-to-use property, but the funds used on the building for renovation could not be justified.

''There was a risk of financial loss. It may be difficult to recover the investment in this property if the university decide to resell the property over high pricing,'' he added.

But Prof Mugenda said after approval from the government, the university purchased two properties in Kigali to establish the campus which the Rwanda authority recommended they first renovate.

''Kenyatta University has the records of all the communications including the approvals and right of purchase and details of renovations," she said.

Prof Wainaina, however, denied knowledge of the issues of the project even though he held deputy Vice Chancellors office then.

''The issue of going to Kigali was something that was not discussed at the management level. I cannot remember this item coming up. The issue of being in a committee tendering for this facility, I don't think the issue of going to Kigali was discussed,'' he said

However, Wamboka put the VC to task to explain why he was not in the know as the mess went on.

Massive project

''You want to say the Vice Chancellor is undertaking such a massive project without your knowledge, tendering without your knowledge?'' Wamboka posed.

But Prof Mugenda put Wainaina in a spot by naming members of the committee, which also listed Prof Wainaina.

''Indeed chair, Prof Wainaina who is the current VC and procurement manager were members of the tender committee that approved the project and can provide relevant minutes of the council,'' Mugenda said.

At this point, Wainaina made an about-turn and admitted he was there but that the matter was not raised.

''Yes chair, I can see I was there, but the proceedings of the committee I cannot remember. The issue of being in a tender committee which dealt with this issue, I was not. I would say the government got value for money but one of the problems we are having is selling,'' he said.