Confusion at UoN as VC Kiama refuses to proceed on leave

UoN Vice Chancellor Stephen Kiama. [Elvis Ogina, Standard] 

Embattled University of Nairobi (UoN) Vice Chancellor Stephen Kiama has dismissed the letter asking him to proceed on compulsory leave and asked the staff and students to ignore the communication.

Prof Kiama said the matter has attracted publicity and has the potential to lead to apprehension among staff and students.

“My attention is drawn to a communication which was circulated to all members of staff and students by Mr John Orindi on Friday, April 19, 2024, at 6.27 pm claiming that the Vice Chancellor had proceeded on leave. I call upon all members of staff and students to ignore the communication,” reads the letter by the VC.

He called upon the university community to commit themselves to advancing the goal of becoming a globally competitive institution that contributes significantly to societal transformation.

“In the meantime, I call on all of us to recommit to the task ahead of driving the university to a truly globally competitive university transforming society,” he said.

Kiama was responding to a letter dated April 19, 2024, by Director of Corporate Affairs John Orindi, that said the University Council had on Friday resolved to send the VC on leave effective April 19, 2024.

The resolutions were made by the Council during its 144th meeting held on Friday, last week.

In Kiama’s absence, the Council appointed the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering Prof Ayub Gitau to act as the Vice Chancellor with effect from April 19, 2024.

“The University fraternity is called upon to support Prof Ayub Njoroge Gitau as he discharges his new responsibilities as the acting Vice Chancellor of the University of Nairobi,” Orindi said.

The university has in the past experienced leadership challenges, marked by frequent changes in its top administration.

This is not the first time Kiama has dismissed the Council resolution to have him proceed on leave.

On September 1, 2023, he unexpectedly ended his leave early and resumed duty after the Council approved his six-month leave request starting from August 1, 2023.

He however declared himself "well-rested and rejuvenated" on X.

The Council later on responded with a letter dated September 22, 2023, instructing him to continue with leave as previously scheduled, emphasising that his early return was unprocedural and not approved by the Council.