There are issues in MUSO which require honesty and openness. In an opinion piece early last week, the Sec-Gen-elect, Mr. Dikembe Seth, gave a personal view about the accommodation crisis. Since then, he has received both scorn and praise in equal measure. To the extreme, some even accused him of grandeur and pride; while others hauled insults at him reminding him that he’s just a second year who needs ‘elderly advice’ to function properly in office.
Given the heat his suggestion that there are no senior students in Moi university, and that the so called seniors are just but a few ‘known’, whose interests are already taken care of by student leaders hence there is need to relook at the plights of the ‘unknown’ students who scourge life at the fringes of this campus, especially accommodation concerns.
In the piece, he opened a Pandora’s box suggesting that at least one more bed space be created in Hostel A, B, F and E. however, the most interesting development was that not all thought his idea was misplaced. In fact, some even shrieked at the idea that some students would oppose such a ‘good idea’ of wanting to accommodate more comrades within the halls of residence.
The future, I believe, remains optimistic (as far as it has gone). Now, let’s remise to the main concern in this piece: Tendering and ownership of campus business premises. In media circles, tendering is a hyper-sensational topic. Not so long ago, shops and cafés ownership was a taboo topic to be discussed on these walls. Campus writers have taken tendering to be the major test of any regime. For so long, student leaders have been accused of corruption and embezzlement by how the tendering process is conducted and its outcomes.
Tendering and ownership are Siamese twins. In a working system, those who tender are expected to be the ‘real’ owners of the investments, that is, when they are lucky to win them. However, this turns out to be a fallacy, especially in MUSO, where there is a developing powerful clique of cartels whose business is to ensure main campus wallows in exploitation as they reap huge profits. The student-leader, portrayed by the media as the greediest, is only a conduit to these cartels.
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The line between power and money is extremely thin. The million dollar question, which sages have asked in different epochs, is just how do we maintain a just society when we have to bestow corrupting powers on members of that society?
The student leader in main campus, with all his attendant duties and responsibilities, do not get any meaningful benefit of being a student leader. Recently, in my capacity as a Chief Reporter with The Legacy, I took time to visit the physical office of the MUSO chairman. What I saw was a dusty room with a single metallic chair and a wooden cabinet like those used in your former high school, yet it is this office which embodies the very basic idea of having a students’ organization.
To remain financially floating, the student leader, faced with a hostile students’ media and an increasingly aggressive body of students, becomes complacent…liwe liwalo! The once vibrant student leader loses all sense of purpose. The university through the Dean’s office is alleged to be a central political player with this very crucial issue.
One of my points of departure with the outgoing MUSO Chairman, Mr. Mwamburi, was how he handled the plight of students’ leaders in the whole tendering saga last semester. While it goes without saying that the outgoing directors, in collusion with other students, owned business premises in campus; the underlying reasons were not exhausted. The Sec-Gen Elect, then Chief Reporter of The 3rdEye, together with Isaiah Masero (Editor-in-Chief) and Steve Macharia (Managing Editor) put the blame squarely on the chair.
In an investigative piece by the 3rd Eye, the three writers posited whether student leaders, themselves having the power to amass these tenders, and more so having valid reasons to do so, could kindly give them out for ‘free’ to other students, or organizations and remain in their state of poverty and want, where they often get back to these very students whom they gave the tenders to, to borrow money for basic survival. The strain on a leader to part with cash is legendary. The incoming office is yet to be sworn in but even now, there are claims that students have been approaching them with very genuine reasons of wanting their assistance, most times financial or material. Coupled with the amounts they used during campaigns, the student leaders find themselves in a quagmire position.
The Sec-Gen, told me that he had time to speak with the incoming Director for Finance, Mr. Joel Ole Nakola, and what came out in their discussion, which I believe is shared by other members of the incoming team and a bigger body of students, is that they cannot pretend to be fighting for students while them as leaders are straining to survive. Unlike other students’ bodies like SONU or KUSA, and even Masinde Muliro, where students leaders and students know the range of benefits to students leaders, be it financial or otherwise, MUSO is an organization managed by trickery and disdain to SGC members. There is no known method of remuneration proffered to our student leaders.
One might argue whether ‘lack of remuneration’ justifies tender acquisition by the SGC members. One may want to know what practical steps have the outgoing teams put in place to ensure their incoming counterparts do not suffer such humiliation. These are the issues we intend to know when the Mwamburi-Okeri SGC finally gives way to the Doghana-Dikembe SGC. I believe the incoming Finance Director has the foresight to not only correct this anomaly, but also put structures that will ensure student leaders are not viewed as thieves or highway robbers.
The media, should now not only focus on whether tendering will be transparent, open and fair, but also whether our system allows student leaders to let go tenders and ownership without due recourse to their survival as people whose shoulders lies the responsibility to ensure each student is not treated unfairly before any organ of the university.
It is easier to pass judgment on actions of student leaders as malicious and utterly inconsistent with best management practices in other institutions of higher learning; however, without correcting the imbalance created by a financially-starving student leader and an unscrupulous but extremely endowed campus brokers; some of whom are classmates of these very same leaders, the vicious cycle of theft will continue unabated.