Information reaching us and making arounds even as we write is that local Kakamega communities, including MMUST community and stakeholders have begun asking serious questions on the protracted delay and also eagerly waiting for an appointment of a substantive VC at MMUST. Information from reliable sources indicates that the stakeholders, particularly the WECO Founders of MMUST are demanding that for the sake of salvaging the institution after the 7 months of destruction by the former acting VC, prof Joseph Bosire – from JOOUST – that the former VC Prof Otieno, whose first term in office ended on November 30th, 2018, be brought back – either through a formal reappointment for a second term, of which we are well-aware that the formal Council chaired by Dr Jeremy Bundi unanimously voted in favor of his reappointment for a second term, but unfortunately twisted unfairly against him by the then Chairman of Council or better still let him be appointed through a fast-tracked fair and regular shortlisting and interview processes.
The stakeholders and wider MMUST and surrounding communities have expressed their happiness for the stop gap measure of removing the former acting VC, Bosire and appointing a MMUST professor in acting, but for a short while. They have expressed further their appreciation to the Ministry of Education for intervening with an interim measure to salvage the university from the destructive tendencies of prof Bosire and his cronies. However, they are of high hopes that the CS will do well and follow through in this effort which they have noted is in the right direction, and either reappoint Prof Otieno for a second term in office or ensure the fair selection process for a substantive be fast-tracked. Further, they earnestly ask for peace, tranquility and harmony be restored at the institution and are tired of seeing same faces of a few individuals appearing in the media every now and then, talking negative things about the university.
They have noted that a number of them are serving self-interests, in the name of speaking for the majority of MMUST communities, as union officials and the larger Luhya community, which is predominant in MMUST and Kakamega and yet many of them are not even from Kakamega County, how then can they purport to know what is best for the Kakamega people? Now, this same few and unscrupulous entities parading themselves as union leaders, while serving their personal interests, have resorted to using the student leaders to propagate lies about the university, all in effort to frustrate and ensure the new acting VC, which they claim is not their choice as they had no say in her appointment, will not find the seat she now sits on pleasurable. A post currently doing its round has been captured by stakeholders in the community and are not happy that a student can abuse a leader at the level of a governor nor even threatening to have a presser to demand for the choice a VC for MMUST. This is very deplorable and indeed unacceptable.
Why MMUSTians and stakeholders want prof Otieno Back:
Indeed, one may wish to ask; what makes staff, both teaching and non-teaching, and students, both undergraduate and postgraduate happy?
For staff – this is our top pick:
In any society, people value different things at different times. Their needs vary all the time. However, according to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, these can be categorized into those basics which anchor most things in life. For our staff at MMUST, and going by the provisions of the physiological need;
- Number one has to be food, shelter, clothing etc.
- Number two would be looking at the next level being safety needs, which would we security, employment, health and property.
In this regard, and looking at MMUST over the past ten years, one can see the following:
Before Jan 2014 MMUST was unstable in terms of the factors identified in both the physiological and safety needs. Salaries were not paid on time, health services had all but collapsed, debts to staff were rising due to high cost of servicing loans and security in terms of future was nonexistent because pensions were not being remitted.
Prof Eng. FAO Otieno came into office with a clear systematic way to address these aspects and he largely succeeded in the majority of these. Staff were quite happy and could focus on productivity and service to our internal and external customers. On a scale of 10 to 100% staff were probably 97% satisfied. In all these there will always be outliers who can never be satisfied irrespective of what one does.
Sadly in just seven months, Bosire and Bundi have destroyed all these gains through reckless management of the university. Staff morale and productivity have taken a plunge and headed downward to where prof FAO Otieno found these when he took over power, late 2013.
For students – our top pick would be:
For both undergraduate and postgraduate students Prof Eng. FAO Otieno came with him a clear and focused strategy of creating a student centered university. According FAO, this meant the end of “business-as-usual”, thus for MMUST to achieve her vision of being a university of choice and competing with her global peers, it meant putting the student at the centre of everything that is done as a university. Prof Otieno, again, largely succeeded in this regard and we are happy to present to you a few list of the things he attended to while in office, for which stakeholders are hungry to see continue:
- Completing and renovating student accommodation.
- Enhancing teaching facilities in terms of quality and quantity. He eradicated students carrying chairs from one lecturer room to another or from one site to another, by providing more chair and putting an end to chairs littering everywhere in surrounding bushes and in students private residences. Unfortunately, in just 7 months these have now all changed. One can easily see chairs littered everywhere on main campus.
- Ensured that all professional programmes at the university were accredited, including the problematic engineering programmes – before Otieno’s administration, engineering graduands were not registerable nor recognized by EBK, but this is now long passed, as he worked hard to bring this to a stop.
- Expanded offerings and under his leadership he started and received accreditation for a school of medicine in MMUST by the KMDPB.
- Enhanced sporting and other extra-curricular activities among the students and started and successfully ran the Talent scholarship. Today MMUST Rugby, Soccer, Volley ball, cricket, and Chess clubs now ranks amongst tops in the Country and in East African region.
- Always engaged constructively with students and their leaders and brought about total peace at the university. Even in disciplinary matters, he always ensured students received fair, just and unbiased hearing in a matters of disciplinary concerns – regardless of tribe, gender nor political inclination to mention just a few.
- Instituted quality assurance in teaching and learning at MMUST thereby enhancing the quality of our degrees at MMUST as evidenced by moving the university ranking from the then No 27 to No 8 nationally in July 2018. During the five year period Prof Otieno was substantive VC, MMUST graduands were top picks amongst potential employers.
There are overwhelming evidences that MMUST students and Alumni simply love Prof FAO Otieno. He did so much for them unlike what has become their fate over the past seven months. Indeed many of the gains made under Otieno’s leadership have sadly been wiped out. Little wonder why morale is down amongst staff and students of MMUST and a big void which our fact finding showed that a greater 90% of the community believe can only be filled with the arrival of Prof Eng. FAO Otieno.
Professor Otieno also worked extremely hard to ensure that actual teaching took place at MMUST. In the past a number of staff would on a 14 week semester teach for only two to three weeks thereby leaving the students with little or no knowledge. Unfortunately and unlike prof Bosire who during his seven months span as acting VC, hardly attended to this. We even have evidence that Bosire ran the university for seven months from his office a few times, and mostly from Nairobi and in the air. He never visited nor ran not even one tour of schools, departments, sections etc. even during the two exams – semesters one and two of 2018/2019 AY, he never visited not even one examination venue – yet this was a former DVC, academic affairs, who should have known better. But why low look far on the reasons for his failure to forestall academic discipline at MMUST, simply, the union leaders are the main culprits in academic infelicitations in MMUST and as the union officials themselves were his chief advisors in academic matters and yet the once bearing the bulk of the bane of academic fraud – sex for marks, absenteeism from class and exams, cash for marks, yellow page notes, inability to complete PhD before 8 years and so forth – what would anyone expect of Bosire than play along. He himself being a lazy administrator, this even made his tasks easier and given him more time to focus on strategies to continue earning per diems. What a sad story this is for MMUST.
We hear unions making lots of noise. What we have yet to hear is specific accusations against prof Eng. FAO Otieno. Wild allegations cannot stand the test of time. What is not in doubt by anybody anywhere is that Otieno had a vision and he performed extremely well at MMUST. His only mistake was that he sealed loopholes for theft of university resources and he insisted on service delivery to all students, staff and other stakeholders. He is selfless and works hard and with passion.
As we conclude, we wish to reemphasize that the spirit of Prof Eng. FAO Otieno still lingers in MMUST. His heavy presence still lingers in hope that the Ministry and Council will do MMUST justice and allow either his reappointment for a second term – as Dr Jeremy Bundi led Council erred in this regard. On the alternative, ensure a fast-tracked fair and regular selection process for which we as members of MMUST students, staff of MMUST, Political leadership in the greater Kakamega County, wider MMUST community and surrounding communities would like to see. We strongly believe this fair process will enable Prof Otieno return back to MMUST as substantive VC – as we are confident that his kind for now, is unmatchable. This is the voice and kind prayer of over 90% of MMUST community and Kakamega County stakeholders of MMUST – Bring back Prof Eng. FAO Otieno to MMUST.