(MEDIA: President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre) during the 4th Graduation Ceremony at Kibabii University in 2019. PHOTO/COURTESY)
Police in Bungoma have outlawed a planned demonstration by Bungoma residents over the delayed appointment of Professor Donald Siamba as the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration, Finance, and Development).
The demonstrations which were organized by the locals led by Mr. John Wanjala Masinde were to be held today (Sunday). Police, however, in a letter to Mr. Masinde, said demonstrations cannot be held at this time when the spread of corona virus is yet to be contained.
A showdown is looming as the demonstrators have vowed to push on despite the police order stopping the demos.
In a letter to the University council, Mr. Masinde had earlier given a 14-day notice to the University to have prof. Siamba appointed to the position or they take to the streets in protests.
At the same time, 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.
Mr. Wamunyinyi is the MP of the region where the University falls while Hon. Nyongesa is the MCA of the ward in which the University is located.
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.
“The Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice chancellor positions are all held by dons from outside our County. All we are asking is that prof. Siamba who is a qualified professor and is currently acting be given the position,” said Hon. Wamuniyiyi.
On his part, Hon. Nyongesa, said Professor Siamba has the requisite qualifications having acted, been shortlisted and interviewed for the position.
“We wonder why the appointment is taking too long. Prof. Siamba needs to be appointed immediately. He is the only local don with a leadership position at the University,” said Nyongesa.
The two leaders are now calling upon Education Cabinet Secretary Prof. George Magoha and Higher Education PS Simon Nabukwesi to step in and ensure fairness and meritocracy at the University is adhered to.
In a new twist,the two leaders blamed the current VC prof Isaac Ipara of opposing the appointment of Prof. Siamba for unknown reasons. They alleged that the VC has thrown his weight behind another don from outside the University.
“If the VC is involved in underhand dealings to block prof. Siamba, we shall go for him now that his term is almost coming to an end,” said Nyongesa.
At the same time, Human Rights Activists Job Bwonya and Albert Wekesa Lumumba have threatened to go against the police and hold demonstrations to block the appointment of any other person.
“We shall not accept any other person other than prof. Siamba who we have total faith in. He is a seasoned professor with experience in management,” said Bwonya.
Bwonya said they will not be cowed down and allow foreigners run down the University.
Intense lobbying is ongoing over the position that was left vacant following the resignation of Prof. Shem Aywa. Prof. Siamba Donald Namasaka has been acting from May 4th 2019. Upon expiry of an initial 6 months, his acting period was extended to May 2020.
The race is believed to have narrowed down to three top candidates; Prof. Siamba, Prof. Emmy Jerono Kipsoi, and Prof. Lydia Kutima. Intense lobbying and horse trading has taken centre stage as various camps retreat to push for the appointment of their preferred candidate.
The local community, political leaders, and students have thrown their weight behind prof. Namasaka who has been holding the position in an acting capacity.
While prof. Siamba enjoys the support of the local leadership, other candidates too have mobilized their troops to push for their appointment.
Prof Lydia Kutima is the wife to Kakamega Deputy Governor prof. Phillip Kutima. It is believed that she enjoys the support of the ODM party top brass. She is said to have exhibited confidence that it’s just a matter of when before her appointment is made public.
DP RUTO’S HAND IN IT
A source at Kibabii University who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter said Prof Emmy Jerono Kipsoi who is being supported by Deputy President William Ruto has been considered for the job as a compromise candidate following serious lobbying.
The camps angling for Prof. Jerono and Prof. Kutima are playing the gender card a move that has angered the local community. Local leaders wonder why the issue of gender balance is coming out now as initially the entire occupants of the top management positions including the VC and his three Deputies were all male.
“Why is the gender issue being raised now. Why was it initially ignored and now it’s being brought up when a local son is about to take to the helm of the University Management,” said a local leader who sought anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Professor Siamba is the only local that holds the highest position at the University. He hails from Kimilili constituency. Professor Siamba is the senior most local don at the University after Prof Aywa and Prof. Solomon Shibairo left.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor who is in charge of Planning, Partnerships, Research and Innovation prof. Benedict Mutua hails from Ukambani region.
The office that was initially occupied by Prof. Shibairo is now run by prof. Julius Maiyo in acting capacity.
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.