Meru university students celebrate reinstatement of VC Odhiambo

By Duncan Mwirigi

Meru University students took to the streets Tuesday morning to celebrate a move by Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu to reinstate the embattled Vice Chancellor Prof. Romanus Odhiambo.

In a press statement on Tuesday, March 7, CS Machogu said that the Council of Meru University of Science and Technology did not follow the law in terminating the contract of Prof. Odhiambo.

“The purported decision by the University Council to send Prof. Romanus Odhiambo on terminal leave and to appoint an acting Vice-Chancellor is ill-timed and unlawful,” said CS Machogu.

The minister further said that the council’s failure to inform him about the decision amounted to the unfair dismissal of the VC.

“Section 35(1) (a) of the Universities Act, 2012 explicitly lays responsibility on the Council of a public university to appoint a Vice-Chancellor in consultation with the Cabinet Secretary. Regrettably, the Council fell short of its legal duty of fidelity to the applicable law. The Ministry of Education, therefore, directs the University Council to overturn its decision to send Prof. Odhiambo on terminal leave and to appoint an acting Vice-Chancellor.’’

The CS further directed the university to hold its graduation on Saturday, March 11 as earlier planned upon the reinstatement of the VC saying he (Machogu) will personally attend the event.

Machogu further said that plans were underway to set up a new Council of Meru University as the current members’ term comes to an end on March 9, 2023.

“The ministry is taking the necessary steps to constitute a successor Council in accordance with the law. The Council so appointed, shall, in line with its legal mandate, address the matter of the position of Vice-Chancellor.

On March 3, the university’s governing council asked Prof. Odhiambo to proceed on terminal leave on account of ‘poor performance’, with His position being filled in an acting capacity by Charity Gichuki.

According to the VC, the decision to send him home ahead of the expiry of his contract in July 2023 was politically stirred, citing an increased student enrollment and improved infrastructure under his tenure

Odhiambo was appointed to the position in July 2018 by the then-Education Cabinet Secretary (CS) Amina Mohamed.

Police officers engage demonstrating students

Following the termination of his services, students of Meru University on Monday, March 6 held protests, resulting in damage to property and the paralysis of movement on the Meru-Maua road.

Consequently, the university’s senate met and resolved to close the university indefinitely and postpone the upcoming graduation ceremony scheduled for Saturday, March 11, a decision that CS Machogu dubbed ill-timed, with the apparent consequence that it would undermine the preparations for the imminent event and destroy the hopes of graduands to transit into the world of work immediately.

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