Is this Kenya’s most brazen case of tribalism?
The decision by a council member at Moi University to award a candidate 99 per cent marks during interviews to recruit a new vice-chancellor on Monday has once again exposed tribalism that has entrenched itself in the management of universities.
According to the results of the interview, Isabel Kogei awarded acting Vice-Chancellor Laban Ayiro 41 per cent and gave Isaac Kosgei 99 per cent.
Another council member, David Rono, awarded Prof Ayiro 45 pc and Prof Kosgei 92 per cent, while Hamisi Dena awarded Prof Kosgei 90 and Prof Ayiro 51.
Six candidates were interviewed for the position that has been vacant since September last year with Prof Kosgei being ranked the best with 76 per cent, followed by Prof Ayiro with 70 per cent and Prof Anne Nangulu who also got 70 per cent.
On Thursday, Public Service Commission chairperson Margaret Kobia waded into the issue terming it unfortunate.
“Recruitment of VCs by university councils has assumed a worrying pattern where some council members are awarding scores that are outliers. One wonders if the panel members were measuring agreed competencies or had a predetermined candidate, compromising objectivity in the process,” said Prof Kobia.
She went on: “If the trend spreads to other universities, we are weakening these institutions. Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i’s reforms support good governance. University councils are not practising professionalism in recruitment. Perhaps we need a central body for recruiting of all public university bosses.”
Other candidates were Prof Maurice Amutabi (66 per cent), Prof Isaac Kibwage, the current deputy vice-chancellor for Administration and Planning (64 per cent), while Prof Joseph Chacha managed 61 per cent.
Prof Kosgei, who is the current deputy vice-chancellor, Administration, Finance and Development at Laikipia University, was last year at the centre of protests after local leaders in North Rift demanded that he be appointed the vice-chancellor.
This is after he topped in the first interview which was characterised by leakage of the results by council members to political leaders and candidates.
Dr Matiang’i revoked the whole exercise and, in March this year, appointed a new council with the hope of conducting a credible recruitment.
The latest development appears to be a blow to Dr Matiang’i who has been pushing to have better leadership in universities that have been characterised by tribalism and wars between council members and vice-chancellors.
Two weeks ago, he unveiled the second phase of radical reforms in public universities to address poor governance in the institutions.
The council is headed by Jeremiah Ntoloi Koshal and the members are Elizabeth Obel, Vincent Chokaa, David Rono, Samuel Otieno, Hamisi Dena, Isabel Kogei and Hilda Muchunk.