When Moi University Vice Chancellor Prof Laban Ayiro addressed students for the first time on Thursday since his controversial appointment, he spoke candidly about what ails the institution.
He says the last two months at the helm of the institution, have not only been exhilarating but fascinating and frustrating as well.
But he said he is committed to returning the institution to its former glory.
“My first two months have been an extra ordinary and exhilarating experience…I have attended strategy meetings, spoken to students, popped into lectures uninvited and listened to every perspective… I am still learning the ways of Moi,” he says.
According to Prof Ayiro, his frustrations stem from the fact that the institution is in such a bad state – that they have had to seek financial help from Treasury to run the institution.
“I would never have imagined seeing myself in situations where as chief executive, hospitals reject Moi University patients, newspapers can’t pick our advertisements, suppliers only supply when our cheques go through, statutory deductions are in arrears and an institution that is stuck with a bloated workforce,” he says.
“We therefore have to make tough and at times painful choices and take up greater responsibilities to revive the institution,” he adds.
He says the university will only come out of “its current depressing standing” if they attain an “optimal size and shape.”
“We must be prepared to accommodate new programs. We must also be willing to do something much harder to stop activities whose time has passed,” he says.
“The fact that something has been done for a long time is not itself reason to continue it,” said the Ag VC.
Earlier on this month, Prof Ayiro closed down two campuses – in Nakuru and Eldoret as part of his roadmap to turn around the university’s fortunes.
“We must make tough decisions on how big the university should be. If we decide to concentrate on just four or five campus – Annex, Main Campus, Nairobi campus, Kitale – what you see in Kenyatta or other universities will be achieved not in 10 years but next three years,” said Prof Ayiro.
He says that as a result of its massive expansion strategy, the university has suffered from staff shortage of teaching staff.
“The existing staff have to shuttle to teach in the various satellite campuses, a scenario that creates strain, fatigue and inherent inefficiencies,” he added.
He also said that the institution’s expansion plan has not taken into account teaching and accommodation facilities.
“The university is also challenged by inadequate and poorly maintained lecture halls and accommodation facilities, lack of voice projection equipment and teaching aids, inadequate recreational facilities,” he adds.
He said the institution is also keen on re-establish relations with suppliers by ensuring supplies are paid for in time.
On financial management, Prof Ayiro acknowledged that the university’s finances have not grown as required.
“My management has been open…we have told you the state of our financial accounts…I was at the Senate and told them we have Sh143 million. There is no secret (about this issue). Why should I carry that burden?” he posed.
“Failing to make frugal financial and management decisions has resulted in the stagnation in development and a negative corporate image,” he adds.
His revelations comes in the wake of a recent government report that indicated that the institution may have lost up to Sh1 billion in one of the worst suspected corruption scandals in a public-owned institution of higher learning. The report released in October raised the red flag over Sh600 million in questionable transactions between the university and the Rift Valley Textile (Rivatex), a company it owns.
The report, which has been handed to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission showed that the university operates 56 bank accounts, many of them suspect.
The Special Audit Report on Financial Operations at Moi University for the Financial Years 2013/14 to 2015/2016 said the university failed to provide names of signatories to the accounts, authority for opening the accounts and bank statements.
Prof Ayiro says he is ready to give his all to ensure the institution regains its former glory.
“Please don’t judge me by my ethnic disposition. Let us be one, there are those perpetuate ethnic inclination, they are destroying our university . . . this institution is great because of our diversity,” he said.
In September, his appointment caused uproar with the two governors and five MPs from the North Rift protesting his appointment.
The leaders claimed that Prof Isaac Kosgey, who was one of those seeking to be VC, emerged top during the interviews and should have been appointed.
Dr Fred Matiangi, the Education Cabinet Secretary who was represented by Prof Nyaigoti Chacha, the Commission of University Education urged the university’s council to support the Prof Ayiro in his efforts to improve standards.