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Kiama returns to office before end of leave, says issues have been resolved

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

University of Nairobi Vice-Chancellor Stephen Kiama resumed duty Friday, cutting short his six-month sabbatical leave.

Barely three weeks after he took leave, Prof Kiama wrote to the University Council indicating his intention to report back to work.

In the letter dated August 31, Prof Kiama said issues that had led to his decision to take a back seat in university leadership had been ironed out.

“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, September 1, 2023,” the letter reads in part.

The letter is copied to Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu, Chief of Staff Felix Koskei, Higher Education Principal Secretary Beatrice Inyangala, and University Deputy VC Academic Affairs Julius Ogeng’o.

Prof Ogeng’o has been the acting Vice Chancellor in the absence of Prof Kiama. In an interview with the Saturday Standard, Prof. Kiama on Friday indicated that the Council was yet to reply to his notification to resume office.

“No response is needed. I have a contract that lasts five years and I don’t need to request to come back,” Prof Kiama said.

Council chairperson Professor Amukoye Anangwe was not available to comment on the return of the VC. However, sources in the Council hinted that the VCs return took them by surprise.

“The same way he politely wrote to Council seeking leave, and he got concurrence, is the same way he ought to have written to the same body and wait for response,” said a Council member.

Staff at the university who spoke on Friday also expressed shock on Prof Kiama’s return.

“Ogeng’o has been the acting VC. We do not know what is happening because there has been no communication from the university,” said one member of staff.

Saturday Standard has established that the University and Academic Staff Union (UASU) has also filed a court case challenging the legality of the Council.

UASU University of Nairobi chapter secretary, Maloba Wekesa, on Friday supported the return of Prof Kiama.

Prof Kiama said his priority is preparing for the 69th graduation ceremony to be held on September 22.

“We are going back to the physical graduation after three years of virtual ceremonies, and that needs proper planning,” Kiama said.

He further praised financial reforms that have seen transactions being done online.

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