Thursday, 9 January 2014

Inside Management Intrigues of Moi University: Tribalism, Incompetence and Power Struggles

Moi University was the second university to be established in 1984 after University of Nairobi in the now over crowded field. The university has since then embarked on the mission of producing skilled graduates through provision of quality training. However, the quality of education at this once noble university is at risk thanks to management intrigues. Tribalism, incompetence and power struggles in the university are jeopardizing the gains that have been made in building the foundation of knowledge. Reports are now emerging that Moi University is on the verge of losing its ISO certification status due to the continuing mismanagement of the institution. The ISO team is not convinced that the institution is abiding by the standards that come with the certification.

In the last global university rankings done in July 2013, Moi University was fourth in Kenya and 87 in Africa, slipping from the previous 48. In the ranking, Maseno University and Kenyatta University relatively ‘young’ universities had beaten it. If you compare Kenyatta University which is doing relatively well owing to good management and Moi University, one wonders whether both of them are public universities since KU is well built with modern infrastructure. So shock on you; they are both public universities and as a matter of fact Moi was established before Kenyatta. Maseno University on the other hand, once a constituent of Moi University is also doing well and will soon bypass her mother university in terms of development as it already doing well in research going by the results. 

The deteriorating performance can be attributed to management lapse more so in planning, finance, and administration among other critical areas. This comes against the background of tremendous expansion of higher learning with universities giving their A game. The higher education sub sector has continued to experience a boom as more people are going to the universities to attain the higher education. It is, however, unfortunate that most people join the university just to acquire the much coveted degree certificate and get a plum job while those upgrading get the promotion cum salary increment. What this does at the end of the day is that we have an educated population with no skills because they are not really interested in grasping the knowledge and technical know-how. This has reduced creativity and innovation among the graduates. The problem is not with the system but it is with those students going through the system. What we need is change of attitude towards education and not an abolishing of the entire system. Guys are overly concerned with excellence in academic performance rather than the skills which is actually required in the job market. Therefore pundits who have been criticizing the 8.4.4 for failing should think again.

So what ails Moi University? Management lapse in planning, finance, and administration among other critical areas courtesy of tribalism, incompetence and power struggles are responsible for Moi University’s ailment. For starters, it has not been able to handle planning, one of the most vital elements in practice of management. There are countless instances to illustrate the incompetence when it comes to management. Take the case of hostel M, a hostel that has been under construction like for eternity. I joined the university in 2009 and graduated in 2013 but the hostel was still under construction four years down the line. One of my lecturers who was once a student there completed his studies and came back as a lecturer but that particular hostel was still under construction. In another case of epic incompetence, a section of the students (2nd years) had their opening days postponed three times and eventually their resumption of studies was cancelled until further notice not to mention that the poorly organized 29th graduation was also postponed. These are just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to champions of disorganization and incompetence.

Next on line is tribalism the all too familiar concept in Kenya and Africa as a whole and it is one of our biggest obstacles to sustainable development in Kenya. This combined with greedy nature of Kenyans has conspired to deny us the much needed progress whether socially, economically or politically. There is craze for wealth accumulation in the country and guys will just do anything to acquire more wealth even chopping someone’s nose. But then again, come to think of it, you will die and leave those things behind anyway. Tribalism has a deep root in the entire university. Not surprising though is the fact that most employees are from the predominant Kalenjin tribe who are the natives of the area. The community or tribe if you like in the area has developed some sense of entitlement and they perceive themselves as quasi owners of the institution. 

Granted, they benefit more than others when it comes to job opportunities and tenders. This has resulted to over-staffing and arrogance/complacency among the staff as they perceive the danger to be fired as remote given that one of their own is in power. If you take a walk along the corridors of the offices in the gigantic administration building, you will be astonished by the employees talking in their vernacular and see offices having five assistants to one boss. 

Regulations and rules are bent for them. There is this employee who had stolen a university property but instead of facing disciplinary action he walked scot free because the ‘godfather’ was a high ranking management officer who apparently ‘fixed’ him in the workforce and they both hailed from the community

When it comes to providing services, students or any other person from the Kalenjin tribe get preferential and favoured treatment. This, I had a personal experience. I had travelled to the university to check and confirm my marks just to ensure that all the marks were in order. To my disappointment, the officer in charge refused to show me the results giving me some illogical reason despite the fact that I was rightfully entitled to the services not to mention that I had traveled from a distant town and graduation was a few days away. As I stood there trying to plead, another student comes talks in Kalenjin with the officer and voila! After three minutes she walks out of the officer with a transcript, what I too had requested but denied. I never got it by the way and I left having wasted time and cash traveling to that place.

Completing the trilogy of mismanagement in Moi University is power struggle. Power struggle has compounded sound management of the university. Members of the top management have been engaging in unending power struggle. Some were even sent to a sabbatical as they refused to relinquish their positions despite having stayed since the university was established 29 years ago, following a restructuring exercise that hasn’t achieved anything anyway.  The power struggle has resulted in the rapid, unsustainable, and unnecessary opening of several campuses even in areas that are already being served by another university as prominent members of the management scramble to be college principals, senior officers and create jobs for their friends. So Odera Akango in Yala, Siaya County came as result of influence of former chancellor Prof. Bethwel Ogot who hails from the area while Kabianga University built in Kabianga, hometown of the Vice-Chancellor who hails from Kericho County. In Eldoret town alone there are about five campuses! The unplanned and unwarranted establishment of campuses is being done yet its main campus sits on 3000 acres of land which only a small portion has been used. The haphazard expansion has led to budgetary constraints and failure to develop main campus which has a number of abandoned projects yet hosts the highest number of students.

The power struggle has also been witnessed among the dean of schools/faculties who have been coming up with similar degree programmes in their respective schools yet they are all under the same university as they try to display their power. This has created some sort of counterproductive internal competition.  Take the case of school of Arts which introduced a degree programme in Linguistics, Communication and Media which was a duplication of Communication & Journalism in the school of Human Resource Development, Media Science and Information science in the school of Information Science who basically belong to the same job market segment, thereby flooding the market yet there are few jobs.
To add salt unto the injury, they are resistant to change. Did you know that with the sophisticated technology that we have today, students in Moi University still can’t access their marks online? Recently, they have adopted online accommodation booking process that has also failed to meet its purpose. Any attempt to bring change is met with full force and dissent voices are threatened with expulsion. The rest remains the same; corruption and misappropriation of finance et al, usual suspects, just like other government institutions are rampant in the university ranging from inflated budgets, ghost/useless workshops and all other means of stealing of public funds.