Prof Stephen Kiama, the man who is running the University of Nairobi on orders of the Labour court, is unable to access his office.
In a memo to staff and students, the vice chancellor— whose appointment was suspended by Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha— on Wednesday said he had been forced to operate from a temporary office.
He claimed Prof Isaac Mbeche, who had been appointed by Prof Magoha acting VC, had refused to surrender the keys for the top office located on Floor 3 of UoN Towers.
“As an interim measure and to respect and safeguard university property from wanton destruction, the vice chancellor will operate from the 19th floor of the UoN Towers,” said Prof Kiama.
His decision, he said, was aimed at upholding the image of the university as an organisation with strong corporate culture and belief in the rule of law.
On Tuesday, in a communication to staff and students, Prof Kiama said Prof Mbeche who is deputy vice chancellor in charge of finance, planning and development was proceeding on annual leave with effect from January 6 following his request and which had been granted.
He appointed Prof Madara Ogot, the deputy vice-chancellor research and extension, to act in the position for the period Prof Mbeche will be on leave.
“Further, Prof Julius Ogeng’o, the deputy vice chancellor academic affairs, was appointed in acting capacity as deputy VC student affairs to allow for the filling of the position,” said Prof Kiama.
He said both Prof Ogot and Prof Ogeng’o were formally appointed.
However, Prof Mbeche dismissed the claims saying he was recalled by Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha to act.
“I was on leave but was asked to come back,” said Prof Mbeche, who also disclosed that he stayed away from the VC office to allow the court process to take place.
“We are waiting for the decision of the government after Monday’s court orders for the next cause of action,” said Prof Mbeche.
On Wednesday, UoN staff and students were holding separate meetings to discuss the stalemate of the university.
Some staff and students are supporting Prof Kiama while others are supporting Prof Mbeche.
“As your vice chancellor, I want to encourage such discourses, forums and meetings of mind to discuss challenges and matters of interest to the university and her constituents,” he said.
Prof Kiama said, no single person possess the monopoly of knowledge, wisdom and solutions.
“The greater the discourse the richer the attending (sic) solutions, inevitably the outcome of such well-considered discourse is the path of truth and lasting intervention,” he said.
“My solemn duty at this time is to remind you that as you pursue your inalienable rights to assembly, you accord with and observe the tenor of laws and regulations governing such assembly and indeed the broader remit of civility and decency,” he said.
However, the secretary of Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu), UoN chapter, Dr George Omondi, said there was need to resolve the standoff.
The leadership row, he said, is affecting the reputation of the institution.
“We have international collaborations with various agencies and if we continue with the infighting we may lose them,” said Dr Omondi who was accompanied by several union officials.
He said the institution is facing several challenges, including poor funding, and cordial relations with the government were vital.
Dr Omondi said business at the institution have not normalised due to the leadership crisis.