Professor Fredrick Alfred Otieno is one of the best brains Kenya has ever produced. Those who had a chance of meeting the professor, famously known as FAO, encountered a miracle worker. When he first joined Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology in 2013, the professor inherited debt wrecked institution with several stalled projects and staff with hearts of stones. Within five years, FAO had transformed MMUST. It is these changes that made the establishment turn again the hardworking engineer. So much love did he have for MMUST that he literally died trying to lift up the university. Although Otieno has died, there are several lessons that can be drawn from this great man who once reigned in the seventh oldest public university in Kenya.
- It is always possible
The Kenyan culture is filled with greedy and incompetent managers who mostly leave public institutions worse than they found them. FAO did the opposite; within his first term of leadership, he outranked most of his peers. While other universities are faced with numerous challenges of unremitted deductions, delayed salaries, and ghost workers, MMUST, during his tenure, did not sail the same ship. From FAO’s determination, one realizes that no mountain is too big to climb.
- What matters is standing up for the right thing
Otieno believed students had the right to be treated as human beings. Otieno insisted that staff had to perform the duties that they were employed to perform. Otieno insisted that public funds were not to be plundered. Above all, Otieno knew that parastatals are government property, not community or inherited clan belonging irrespective of where they are built.
- Some human beings do not appreciate people’s good work
Despite Prof’s good work; FAO was still opposed by many people who felt they had the right to mismanage the institution and loot it dry. From improving the infrastructure of the place to ensuring timely payment of salaries, Otieno was dedicated to positively change the welfare of all the workers of the institution although some failed to visualize the dream that he had for the university
Although the mighty professor is dead, his legacy lives on and no matter how much those opposed to him try to dilute it, one fact remains; Professor Fredrick Alfred Otieno is one of the greatest VCs MMUST will ever have.