NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 2 – They sat in a row at a leading hotel in Nairobi grim faced; the Communications Officer of the Nairobi Aviation College Eric Okulubera sat in the centre and was flanked by the principals of their Kahawa and Odeon campuses as well as their Director of Studies Dan Kemboi.
They sat desolately, Okulubera said, because the Nation Media Group had threatened all their livelihoods with the Certificates of Doom exposé which aired on Sunday and continued to air on Monday.
An exposé which called into question the quality of certificates the college awards through an undercover investigation which shows an unqualified person enrolled into the institution and an Aeronautical Engineering certificate and transcript bearing the college’s name, sold for a few thousand shillings.
All of which, Okulubera protested, should not be used to indict the entire institution as “fake certificates” he said, were a problem that plagued all higher learning institutions in the country.
“Any staff or member of the public who for unknown reasons goes ahead to acknowledge that they committed a crime must be held accountable as criminals and not representatives of NAC.”
“In any case, if a Nation Media Group journalist was to be implicated in a crime, we don’t think the ownership of NMG would be held responsible,” he defended.
NTV’s investigative reporter Dennis Okari, he claimed, had therefore unfairly targeted the institution by not only denying them a right of reply, but by acting in contravention of a court injunction against the airing of the expose until February 4 when the parties are to appear in court.
“The exposé was malicious driven by the competitive environment and without following the basic tenets of responsible journalism because from the start of the expose, it was about colleges and universities but the reporter subjectively narrowed down to Nairobi Aviation College for reasons best known to them,” he charged.
And while he did admit that the college offers aviation courses despite not being a Kenya Civil Aviation Authority Approved Training Organisation, he insisted that their operations were legal.
“It’s not something that you wake up one day and you have it. So for them to deny us is maybe because of the exposé. But what we know is that we are operating legally and following all the regulations from our regulators: KNEC, KASNEB, ICM, IATA and CILT,” he listed.
Prior to moving to court, Okulubera further expounded, the institution wrote a “polite complain” (sic) to the Nation Media Group.
And the copy he presented to the media reads in part: “Nation Media Group has enjoyed a mutual business relationship for a period running into 10 years with Nairobi Aviation Collage advertising in very strategic page slots and time slots. The Nation Media Group cannot underestimate the importance of such a business relationship and should therefore have put into consideration its commercial interests.”
The college is now seeking audience with the Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi and has asked its students who protested over the expose on Monday to “remain calm and return to class” as the court process takes its course.