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Maseno varsity student’s pain of missing marks and elusive graduation

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By ONDARI OGEGA
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Graduation ceremonies are often marked by grandeur and pomp well deserved after years of toiling to get a kick-start at one’s dream career.

However, the celebrations held over the last two years by graduands in universities across the country have stirred nothing but longing and misery for 28-year-old Mildred Akoth as she made several trips to her varsity academic offices in the quest to plead her case.

A Bachelors of Education with IT student at Maseno University, Ms Akoth suffered a major setback in her career journey after missing out on the 18th graduation ceremony held at the campus in 2018.

Despite persistent efforts to make the graduation list for another ceremony scheduled for December this year, she is sadly staring, for the second time, at missing to make it to the university’s hallowed square after eight daunting years of study for a course that would ideally take four years.

Ms Akoth’s quest for higher learning has been marked with tuition fees challenges which forced her to defer her studies and now she faces the painful possibility of never graduating as her dream remains stalled by missing marks.

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Ms Akoth’s story presents a case study into the failed systems of Kenyan institutions of higher learning. Cases of missing marks in universities are now commonplace. Making it to the graduation list at any of the universities is a fete achieved after knocking on several doors in the quest for marks.

When Ms Akoth sat down for an interview with the Nation in Kisumu, she presented a young woman frustrated by the countless unsuccessful attempts to remedy her situation. Her dream of becoming a history and religious subject teacher reduced to just an illusion.

Having being admitted to Maseno University in 2009, the daughter to a widowed mother struggled through her first two years at the institution to pay her tuition fees.

Her dream was however cut short just before joining her third year in 2011 due to her failure to settle her accruing tuition fees.

“I was forced to defer my studies for a period of three years owing to the Sh230,000 fees that had accrued,” she sadly narrated.

Ms Akoth later went on a fee hunting spree doing menial jobs to raise her fees.

“I would do laundry and clean people’s houses charging between Sh300 and Sh600. I would also hawk perfumes to supplement my income activities,” she said.

Her efforts paid off and she re-applied to join the varsity in 2014. A move she regrets to date.

“A local bank manager who was a friend and had encouraged me in my savings journey was shocked that I withdrew such a large sum of money to settle school fees,” she says.

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Adding that, “he advised me against it and instead pushed me to invest in other ventures to raise fees, an advice that I respectfully turned down to pursue my dream. In hindsight I would have done things differently.”

She re-joined the university in 2017 and was transferred to the City Campus to continue with her studies.

“I was handed a new admission number and did my third year studies at the city campus,” she says.

Her troubles began after completing her studies and joining her classmates waiting to make the list for the institution’s December 2018 graduation.

She missed out on the list due to missing marks but says the school promised to sort out the ‘mess’ in January 2019 and that she would be on the next list.

“When I first reported to city campus, I realised that my portal was not working. I was told not to worry and that the marks were with the dean at main campus; that was in November 2018,” she said, adding “they told me that I will unfortunately miss out on the graduation but will be handed my certificate three months after the ceremony when all graduands troop back for collection.”

Ms Akoth says she has lost count of letters written to the office of the Academic Registrar demanding for her missing marks.

“I lost count of my letters to the dean at twenty-one, all requesting for the same marks to be updated. My follow up has not yielded anything since there has been system migration for close to four months,” she said.

In one of the letters titled ‘Missing Marks’ seen by the Nation, Ms Akoth, writing to the head of department, Education Curriculum through the school of education requests to be provided with her third year semester one and two examination results under admission number ED/4001/09.

“The results have not reflected on my portal up to date. I would like them traced and incorporated under my ED/3094/09. The missing units are ECT 318, ECT 360 and ECT 312,” reads the letter.

Her story took a new twist when the university’s finance department billed her with a fee balance of Sh183,000, a claim she refutes saying she had already cleared her fees.

So dire is her situation that Ms Akoth has now termed the graduation ceremony as just a formality that she wouldn’t wish to attend.

“I just need to hold the certificate in my hands to help me pursue my dream career of teaching. I am pained. My efforts to get my third year results have drained me emotionally,” she adds sadly.

When reached for comment, Maseno University Director of Public Relations Owen McOnyango claimed cases of missing marks are rampant when students are almost graduating, many arising from cases of students who missed out on doing examinations. He however promised to look into the matter.

At the time of going to press Ms Akoth’s case had not been handled. Maseno University faculty of education dean Maureen Olel had threatened to deregister her for ‘staying in the university longer than required’. She could not be reached for comment.

“I am slowly sinking into depression,” Ms Akoth said.

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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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