Makini School PTA Chairman
Nixon Bugo, Makini Schools’ longest-serving PTA chairman, finds himself in unfamiliar territory after attracting a lawsuit for defamation due to his squabbling antics. Court documents paint a picture of a man who has not been shy to engage in alleged self-serving high-handed ways at the school.
Bugo, who has been PTA chair since 2019, has been sued for defamation following claims that the management at the learning institution carry guns on site, and smoke in the company of pupils.
Kenya’s premier, prestigious learning institution, Makini School, has obtained orders against Bugo, who has been accused of inciting his colleagues by publishing malicious and defamatory allegations.
Consequently, Makini School and its regional director, Horace Mpanza, have extracted a court order restraining Bugo from publishing any further defamatory statements concerning the institution.
The order granted by Principal Magistrate John S. A. Opande on August 2 this year reads, “the application dated July 17 2023 be served for inter-partes hearing on August 2, 2023. In the interim prayer no. 2 is allowed, pending the hearing.”
In the application, the petitioners had applied for among other things that “ a permanent injunction restraining the defendant (Nixon Bugo), his agents or any persons acting under his instructions from publishing, posting, or making any further defamatory statements concerning the plaintiff. “
This suit is the result of a long-running feud that has pitted Bugo and some members of the PTA against the school’s management. The school says that Bugo began his campaign in 2019 and has since resorted to defamation and character assassination against the current Managing Director, Mpanza.
Upon his election in 2019, Bugo made several claims against the school and its new management, to the effect that parents were withdrawing their children because of what he claimed was the poor state of some infrastructure and the mistreatment of some staff.
However, the 45-year-old school that was started by Dr. Pius Okelo and Dr. Mary Okelo in 1978 but was sold in 2018 to Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed ADvTECH, has dismissed the allegations as a smear campaign. In the last four years, ADvTeCH, who own about 100 schools across Africa, have invested Sh377.9 million in fixed assets and repairs and maintenance in Makini.
The data shows that, contrary to claims of children being withdrawn, the school enrolment had in fact gone up, and that Bugo himself has fought to keep his children in the school he has been impugning.
The school, in reserving its right to admission this year, refunded Bugo the fees for his two children and asked him to find a suitable environment for his children to learn. Bugo, through his wife, went to court to have the school decision reversed. The courts asked the school to allow the pupils to sit for their end-of-term exam.
Bugo has also politicized management decisions to relocate one of the school’s campuses and claimed that some long-serving staff had been targeted for sacking while the school argues that, in fact, their pay had been enhanced.
In one of the instances, court documents show, Bugo convened a virtual meeting and turned it into a campaign where he made serious allegations about the school’s infrastructure, maligned the character of some teachers, and accused the management of allowing guns in the school. Bugo also appealed to the over 100 attendees to take radical action against the school.
These allegations, the management of the school argues, were calculated to excite and incite other parents against the school management.
According to Makini’s rules, Bugo ought to have relinquished his position in 2021 after serving three years but he has not done so, breaching the school’s constitution.
Under his chairmanship, Under Nixon Bugo chairmanship, the PTA wanted to stop the introduction of the Cambridge curriculum to run parallel with 8-4-4, claiming that parents had not been consulted, that this was a move to replace Kenya’s education system entirely, and that it was incompatible with the country’s education framework.
PTA’s are an ancillary structure in any school’s organization, and are supposed to provide a platform for dialogue between parents and the school administration for the betterment of the student’s education welfare. It is also supposed to be instrumental in promoting charity that benefits the school environment.
According to court filings, Bugo has used his position not only to malign the school’s reputation, potentially disrupting learning to students including his own, but also tried to give the PTA more powers and responsibilities than provided by the law.
During the virtual meeting on July 8th, he asked attendees to pass resolutions to freeze school fees increases and dismissal of employees for a period of two years. This was against the norm where the final decision on such matters is made by the school’s management, after consultations with parents.
Bugo’s tenure has continued to cause unnecessary friction between the school and parents. The management of the school argues that his behaviour over the last four years has been increasingly antagonistic and disruptive, twisting critical facts to suit a narrative that might be driven in part by xenophobia or something else.
The soured relation between the PTA and the school has undermined an important point of contact among the stakeholders in the learning environment and may compromise the legacy of the institution that Makini has painstakingly built for decades. Since 2019, the school has posted excellent results in national examinations and produced top scholars.
The conflict now risks disrupting learning, which will not benefit anyone involved and the unintended victims of this stalemate will be learners who simply want a quality education in a safe, sane, environment.