PUSHING FOR TOP JOB

Police call off Kibabii University protests over DVC

Leaders say the university's top management is dominated by non-locals

In Summary
  • The area leaders want the position of DVC finance given to a local.
  • They say they will hold protests despite the police order.
Kibabii University
CONTROVERSY: Kibabii University
Image: JOHN NALIANYA

Police in Bungoma have outlawed a planned demonstration by residents over the delayed appointment of Prof Donald Siamba as the deputy vice chancellor of Kibabii University.

The demonstration organised by John Wanjala Masinde was to be held on Monday.

Police in a letter to Masinde said demonstrations could not be held at this time when the spread of coronavirus is yet to be contained.

But a showdown is looming as the demonstrators vowed to push on despite the police order stopping them.

In a letter to the university council, Masinde had given a 14-day notice to the university to appoint Siamba or they take to the streets in protest.

Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi and Bungoma county assembly majority leader Joseph Nyongesa said they would mobilise residents to reject any appointee who is not from the area.

The university is in Wamunyinyi's constituency and Nyongesa's ward.

The two leaders regretted that despite the university being located in Bungoma county and having received the support of the local community, there was no professor from the region who held 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 qualified and is currently acting be given the position,” Wamuniyiyi said.

Nyongesa said Prof Siamba had 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,” Nyongesa said.

 

The two leaders called upon Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha and Higher Education PS Simon Nabukwesi to step in and ensure fairness at the university.

At the same time, human rights activists Job Bwonya and Albert Wekesa Lumumba threatened to go against the police order  and hold demonstrations to block the appointment of any other person.

“We shall not accept any person other than Prof Siamba whom we have total faith in. He is a seasoned professor with experience in management,” Bwonya said.

He said they would not be cowed and allow "foreigners" to run the university.

Intense lobbying has been ongoing at Kibii University over the position that fell vacant following the resignation of Prof Shem Aywa. Siamba has been acting since May 4 last year. Upon expiry of the initial six months, his acting period was extended to May this year.

When it was advertised, the position attracted the interest of 10 dons who were interviewed by the Public Service Commission.

The position has attracted high interest because the holder sits in a strategic position to take over from vice chancellor Prof Isaac Ipara whose initial five-year term expires next year.

If his term is not renewed, then the race to succeed him will be wide open. Any of his deputies will 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.

Siamba is the senior most local don at the university after Prof Aywa and Prof Solomon Shibairo left.

Edited by Henry Makori