Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu has directed the Meru University Council to reinstate deposed Vice Chancellor Romanus Odhiambo by closure of business today Tuesday March 7, 2023 saying his removal was not procedural and ill-timed.
Machogu also directed that the University be reopened by Wednesday March 8 after the council closed it down when riotous students protested the sacking of Prof Odhiambo and burnt down property as well as closing down Meru-Maua Road.
The government has also ordered that the suspended 10th graduation which was scheduled to take place on March 11, 2023 will be held as scheduled.
Earlier the Suba Council of elders in Migori had asked Meru University to shun political witch-hunt, favouritsm and tribalism to ensure equity and political goodwill in the country.
Migori Suba Council of Elders Japheth Riogi said that the incident that occurred at Meru University whereby Vice Chancellor Romanus Odhiambo was kicked out because of poor performance was uncalled for.
Meru University Council had declined to renew Prof. Odhiambo’s contract due to the poor performance that resulted in student unrest leading to the indefinite closure of the university.
Riogi noted that the rule of law should be followed to establish the root cause of the allegation but not a political witch hunt.
“When Professor Odhiambo was being ushered the reins of power to be the VC of Meru University, the Abasuba and Ameru community celebrated in Nairobi. It is saddening that he was not allowed to finish his first term in office,” said Riogi.
Chairperson for Suba Professionals John Ogutu said that they would support any idea or task force mandated to scrutinise the VC saying that justice will prevail.
Ogutu however noted the allegation that Prof. Odhiambo underperformed was a malicious claim and political witch hunt to remove the don before he finishes his term. “Suba are honest and peaceful people and our strong belief in ideas and firmness should not be confused with high hardness,” noted Ogutu.
He called upon the Ministry of Education to intervene and settle the matter to allow Prof. Odhiambo to discharge his rightful mandate as the VC of Meru University.
Meanwhile, the Meru University of Science and Technology main campus in Tigania, Meru County, has been closed indefinitely following a students’ riot due to their VC Romanus Odhiambo ouster.
The 10th graduation that was scheduled to take place on March 11, 2023 has also been suspended until further notice.
This unrest comes days after the institution’s Vice-Chancellor (VC) Romanus Odhiambo was forced to proceed on a terminal leave after a meeting held by the institution’s Governing Council.
There have been disparities between the students and the school’s management board where the students are not in agreement with the board’s decision and they claim they want their VC back since he has helped in growth and development of the institution.
The rioting students on Monday morning burnt down a private car as they engaged the police in running scuffles.
The students allegedly took to the streets to demand the reinstatement of the Vice Chancellor Prof. Romanus Odhiambo, who had been sent on terminal leave over what was termed as poor performance.
The demonstrations are said to have begun on Sunday night and went on until Monday mid-morning.
The riots affected business along the Meru-Maua Road as well as activities at the nearby Nchiru and Kianjai markets.
In a letter issued to the vice chancellor by the chairman of the Council Professor Bosire Mwebi, it was indicated that Odhiambo was not able to meet his expected target on his delegated duties hence the council’s resolution on not renewing his contract claiming his performance was below the expectations.
The vice chancellor was also restricted from conducting any sort of business involved the institution.
In absentia of the vice chancellor, Charity Gichuki who has been prof. Odhiambo’s deputy was to be in charge of the office as the acting VC.
The students said they were upset over sudden departure of the VC adding that their postponed graduation will take much time to be rescheduled.
“We are very saddened by the sudden departure of our VC who has been a great performer in the institution. He has done so many good things in this institution including improving infrastructure. We feel very disappointed over the move which has also distracted the graduation ceremony which was scheduled on March 11,” lamented one of the students who sought anonymity.
By Geoffrey Makokha and Kamanja Maeria