(MEDIA: Kibabii University VC Professor Isaac Ipara (sited, third right) with other Dons at the University pause for a photo. PHOTO/FILE)
A new twist has emerged in the tussle to appoint a Deputy Vice Chancellor at Kibabii University.
At the centre of the prolonged delay to make the appointment, is a team led by the University Council Chairman Dr. Mwangi Njoroge and the Vice Chancellor Prof. Ipara Odeo.
The two are said to be working in cahoots to protect their interests at the one of the youngest public Universities in the country. They are said to have set up a cartel of senior staff that oversees employment, procurement and general administration.
The two are said to be against the appointment of the acting Deputy Vice Chancellor in Charge of Administration, Finance and Development Prof. Donald Siamba. Prof Siamba is seen within the University circles as principled, firm and a strict follower of the law.
Dr. Njoroge and Prof. Ipara are at cross roads now since the entire County leadership, political leaders, students, university workers and the local community have thrown their weight behind Prof. Siamba.
The don, who is reported to have emerged among the top candidates during the interview conducted by the Public Service commission, has been acting in the position for close to a year now since the position fell vacant.
In shocking revelations, Dr. Njoroge and Prof. Ipara are said to have presided over the recruitment and promotion of their cronies to top positions at the University against the law.
They have also influenced the awarding of lucrative tenders at the university to their friends where they are alleged to have pocketed millions in kickbacks. At times, they have done the works through proxies and companies directly associated to them. A case in point are tenders for security and cleaning.
The holder of the position of DVC Finance will be the hands on person in handling Finance, Administration and Development. The holder is directly involved in the execution of the above mandates.
In his CV downloaded from the University website, prof Siamba in a personal statement states that he is a professor of Microbiology and Biotechnology with over 30 years of experience in research, teaching and administration.
“Administratively I am a hands on and result oriented transformative leader with a special focus on interpersonal relations and team work,” the CV states in part.
He goes on to state that his orientation to small and often forgotten details has resulted in the many achievements he has accomplished.
Prof Siamba undertook his studies at Moi University, Freie Universitat, in Berlin Germany and the University of Nairobi. He initially attended Kapsabet Boys High School and Kitale Sec. School.
In terms of the distribution of positions in the University Council Members along ethnic lines, there are Luo (3), Kikuyu (2), Teso (1), Somali (1), Kisii (1), and Taita (1).
For the University top management positions, Prof Ipara Odeo who is the VC is a Teso; the Deputy Vice Chancellors are Prof. Benedict Mutua(Kamba), and Prof, Julius Maiyo(Kalenjin). The DVC Finance position is vacant and being held by Prof. Siamba(Luhya) in acting capacity.
Others with senior positions are Prof Ernest Muhochi (Kuria)- Registrar Academic Affairs, Prof. Barrack Abonyo (Luo)- Registrar PPRI, Dr. Alice Chemtai (Kalenjin)-Dean of Students, Charles Kilel (Kamba)- Unicversity Librarian and Prof. Samuel Mbugua (Kikuyu) as Director ICT.
Only yesterday, police banned a planned demonstration by locals over the delay in appointment of Professor Siamba as the Deputy Vice Chancellor.
At the same time local politicians led by Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi and Bungoma County Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Nyongesa said they will mobilize the residents to reject any other appointee who is not from the region.
The two leaders regretted that despite the University being located in Bungoma County and having received the support of the local community, there is no professor from the region who holds a senior administrative position.
Intense lobbying has been ongoing at the University over the position that fell vacant following the resignation of Prof. Shem Aywa. Prof. Siamba has been acting from May 4th 2019. Upon expiry of an initial 6 months, his acting period was extended to May 2020.
When it was advertised, the position attracted the interest of 10 dons who applied and were subsequently shortlisted by the Public Service Commission for interviews that have already been conducted.
The position has attracted high interest because the holder of the office sits in a strategic position to take over the mantle from the Vice Chancellor Prof. Isaac Ipara whose initial five-year term expires next year. If his term is renewed, then Prof. Ipara will serve a final five-year term. If his term is not renewed next year, then the race to succeed him will be wide open. Any of his Deputies can take over in acting capacity as a replacement is sought.
The race is believed to have narrowed down to three top candidates; Prof. Siamba, Prof. Emmy Jerono Kipsoi, and Prof. Lydia Kutima.
The composition of the University council has Dr. Ernest Mwangi Njoroge as the chairman with the VC prof. Ipara as the Secretary. Others are Mr. Hussein Abdi Farah, Mr. Francis Asunah, Mr. Vincent Nyabiosi, Mr. Tom Mboya Wambua, Eng. Mwaka Mungatana, Mr. Michael Jasper Obonyo, and Dr. Joyce Wanjiru Ngure.