The man on a dangerous mission to bring down MMUST is none other than the man, Dr JEREMY BUNDI. Dr Bundi, who has been chairman of MMUST council since March 2017, has remained a terror to the hard earned efforts and trajectory growth of the university recorded in the last three years preceding his appointment. Ever since his appointment as chairman, the university has hardly known any peace. Working in close alliance with the three university unions, Dr Jeremy has embarked on a mission to bring down the university which was on a verge of a skyrocket growth, precipitated by the hard work of the previous council he succeeded, which had strongly supported the management that came in in December 2013, under the headship of Prof FAO Otieno.
Going down memory lane, prior to December 2013, the university was in every sense of the word, insolvent, and on a brink of collapse and been termed, a failed state corporation. It was on a very fast run, downward, being embattled with the worst form of corruption ever seen in the history of this country, with the quality of degrees being very poor to say the least, and graduands of MMUST being rejected on grounds of “half-baked graduates” by employers. The university owed all manner of unspeakable debts, up to the tone of Ksh. 1.4 billion and ranging from unpaid salaries, allowances and pension arrears, unpaid suppliers’ and contractors’ monies, statutory debts, unpaid rents, owed part-time payments, to mention a few. In short, it will be better put, “nobody was interested nor willing to do business with MMUST”. Going further, students’ marks dwindled – with cases of “sex-for-marks/marks-for-sex”, “cash-for-marks/marks-for-cash” or simply put, “sexually transmitted qualification” was at its worst and lowest record in the history of Kenya, at MMUST. This list can go on and on and we will write a full thesis on the sad, dark tails of the university before December 2013. However, all these began to take a new root with the advent of a new management that was strongly supported by a council who understood the value of a system and knows how to take a back seat and let its management run the affairs of a university. Within a record of 2 to 3 years, MMUST recorded a skyrocket growth, moving from number 24 to number 7 in the national university ranking. Cleared all 1.4 billion Kenyan shillings debts it owed including statutory and non-statutory debts. Suppliers, contractors, part-timers were all happy to be associated with the name MMUST. Backlogs of staff allowances were all paid up and staff could smile again as they received their monthly salaries by the 28th of each month. High-rise buildings, office blocks, class rooms were all springing up in the air. Quality programmes were developed, stringent examination policy came up, lazy staff and lecturers were on the run, those who could, braced up to their duties and the university became better known not only for what it ought to be a “university of choice” but also a “student-centered” higher education institution. Retired staff pensions were all paid up, students fees debt were reduced to zero balance, timely graduations happened and MMUST graduands were all of a sudden the most sort after by employers. Staff PhD and post graduate qualifications rate spiraled up. Staff embraced consultancy and community engagement mentality rather than reliant on PSSP jumbo pay out. The list could go on and on, but then again, this article is not about the many and magical successes of the Prof Otieno led administration – the records and evidences are all in the public domain for all interested parties to see and read – neither is this write up, about how the Otieno led administration, turned hopelessness at MMUST to miracles of hopes – miracles only achieved through discipline, stringent financial policies, sound work ethics and corruption-free mentality. No, this is not about Otieno, it is about what happened and is still happening in MMUST after the Dr Jeremy Bundi led Council took over governance at MMUST, since March 2017. Yes, let’s talk about the man, Jeremy Bundi, this write up is about letting the world know about the true character of this man.
Ever since Bundi took over as council chairman, everything in MMUST began to look bleak. In short, this man simply does not seem to understand how a university system operates nor the role of a university council in the governance of the university. Well, if he does, then he is simply just too ambitious to stick to his roles or have nursed an ambition of being a university vice chancellor through the back door. Simply put, he appeared not to know how to, or simply refused to separate governance from management and ever wanting to be the manager at every opportunity he gets, and if none coming his way, he creates one just to simply stamp his authority as the head of the institution and the manager of all university affairs, not minding his zero experience and zero qualification in university management.
In the 2 years that Bundi was chair of MMUST council, nothing significant happened at MMUST. Nothing new, no proactive initiatives, literally nothing happening anywhere except ongoing projects initiated by the synergetic working relationship between the previous council and management. To say the least, were it not for the presence of a very focused vice chancellor at the leadership of the university, the institution in its new glory would have grounded, by now, to a halt.
Going forward in terms of character, this man, Bundi, is highly wanting. Here is a man, who previously worked at the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC), not minding his records of victimization and vindictiveness to his then colleagues (all these stories are there in the public domain and court case records), this man refused to be subjected to vetting and instead took an early retirement, for which we all know his reasons for the early exit from the commission. Only he knows what his expectations at MMUST as chair of council were. One thing for sure, whatever his expectations were, with the strict and corruption free policy of the Otieno led leadership at MMUST, he definitely was not getting it, hence, one wonders where all his bitterness and hatred for Prof Eng. FAO Otieno emanates from. The question of integrity is also something that is seriously wanting in this man. Little wonder, the fact that he had hard time getting access to institutional resources played major roles in his bitterness and hostility to the vice chancellor. Sadly his time as chair of council has been largely shrouded by many integrity issues, including falsification of council minutes and conflicts of interest, to mention a few.
In every well organized and well-run corporations, particularly state corporations, for growth and successes to be achieved and sustained, there must be, at all times, a clear distinction between the roles of council (governance), management and unions in the affairs of the institution. Under the headship of Bundi as chair of council, this was completely blurred. Dr Bundi completely assumed all three roles thus creating major conflicts in the smooth running of the university.
Recent happenings at MMUST in the last six (6) weeks leaves many with plenty of questions. One key question is; is it Dr Jeremy Bundi that is running the university or the acting vice chancellor, Prof. Joseph Bosire? This again, begs the question of integrity. On many occasions, Dr Bundi, as always – which was quite rampant during the term of Prof Otieno – as the chair of chair of council, took to lying to council members in efforts to achieving his ulterior motives. He will do something independent of council members approval and then pass it as a council resolution, or when presented before council before being carried out, and the unanimous decision is not in his interest, he will alter council minutes to still go ahead with his interest and then force members to accept his actions. Indeed, some of these actions and wanton decisions are so serious that they have now ended up as subjects of court litigations.
Currently, Dr Bundi excessive and inordinate control over MMUST management have led the acting vice chancellor to implement decisions that may be very costly to the university and risk both the integrity of the acting vice chancellor and the university management as a whole. For example, following Bundi’s undue influence on management, the acting vice chancellor have had to appoint a substantive registrar administration – which is entirely a council role and then pass it off as a council decision, when no such council decision was made. This action contravenes the university’s statute as provided in “statute xi: Registrars; number 2” which states “… the council shall competitively recruit Registrar who shall hold office…”. Furthermore, statute xi; number 2; sub-number (b) provides that this position must be held by a candidate who must have a doctorate degree in a related field (an excerpt is attached to this article). Ms. Rachel Atamba, has no PhD, and besides the fact that her appointment as a substantive registrar administration contravenes “competitive recruitment”, her initial removal from the position as the university registrar (administration) which she previously occupied was supported by a competent court ruling that she was unqualified for the position, as per the university statute. Such is the character of Dr Bundi, which ordinarily in any civilized society as one we live in, he would not be allowed to be a university council member let alone chair a university council.
Another important and probably the last question one may need to ask of the person of the chairman of council, MMUST, is; is Dr Jeremy Bundi qualified to be a university’s council chairman? Anyone in their clear mind would instantly see the answer to be a resounding NO! Dr Bundi has no senior level managerial experience. He acquired a PhD many years after he retired from public service. This in itself makes his PhD, a dead PhD, to say the least and of little, if any value addition to his roles as a university council chairman. He earned his PhD in a non-specific area and one is unable to establish whatever he has done to apply his PhD experience to warrant being a chairman of a university council. From the MMUST perspective, we see this as a serious problem for the university, going forward as the pinnacle of academic excellence and knowledge incubation and dissemination in Western Kenya. To this end, we recommend that the sooner the western and indeed Kakamega leaders and founders of the foremost western university, stand up and question the character of the man, Dr Jeremy Bundi, the better for the society.