MAKERERE University, Uganda: As the race for the next Vice Chancellor hots up, the Investigator has been made to understand that the current holder of the office, Prof John Ddumba Ssentamu was actually told by the powers-that- be to step aside.
“He (Ddumba) was sweet-talked into leaving the race in favor of a candidate who the president wants to become the next Vice Chancellor,” an insider offered. Asked these inside sources privy with the matter who the president has a soft spot for, they revealed the First Citizen’s choice is Prof Venasious Baryamureeba.
“The president wants Baryamureeba to return to Makerere. Museveni feels strongly that the former V.C is the one who can help the university to progress. His spies tell him that it was because of intrigue and politics at Makerere that Baryamureeba lost the job.”
Baryamureeba made a surprise and late entry into the race. The ICT guru, who served as vice chancellor of Makerere in the past before starting UTAMU University, was least expected to vie for the seat again. For once he had chosen to join politics and actually tried his luck at the country’s presidency, though disastrously.
In the wake of his defeat as VC, Baryamureeba decried intrigue at Makerere University and vowed never to return there. He followed such avowal by starting his own university and later joining politics. Intriguing too was the manner in which Prof Ddumba chickened out of the race at the eleventh hour.
Prof Ddumba had the chance to go for a second term after the expiry of his current term in August. But he surprised his strategists and foes in equal measure by bowing out. More surprising is that Ddumba did this in a subtle manner so much so that it is through the government media that the country learned of the move.
Insiders are now saying that both decision of quitting on part of Prof Ddumba and getting in by Baryamureeba is a matter that was dictated by the president himself. Asked why the president is now interested in a man who contested for his job, insiders say Baryamureeba’s candidacy at that level was a ‘pure joke’. “Baryamureeba was planted with a view to split votes in favor of the incumbent. His was never a serious candidacy from the word go,” they assert.
We understand that Museveni finds Baryamureeba to be a very visionary leader who helped to carry out a lot of development during his tenure as vice chancellor. “Baryamureeba singlehandedly sourced for funding for the construction of the ICT department at Makerere. He believed in making friends for the university other than sitting back and waiting for the central government to fund the university activities,” our sources add.
The president also feels strongly that Baryamureeba was forced out of Makerere owing to intrigue and politics since he is regarded to be an NRM cadre. The president also feels, according to our sources, that Ddumba’s administration has been characterized by many squabbles ranging from students strikes and those by lecturers.
“Government hoped that by supporting Ddumba a cool headed guy and a long standing professor, he would help to find solutions to Makerere’s problems, but the same have instead escalated,” our sources argue. Much as Ddumba tried his best to hide his affiliation to the opposition DP party by maintaining a neutral stand in all matters, we understand that the powers-that-be has always been alert to this fact and have been uncomfortable with it.
“Forget about his presidential candidature, Baryamureeba is an NRM at heart. The NRM chairman feels more comfortable with that man at the helm of Makerere,” they add. Much as Prof Wasswa Balunywa, another contender, is rumored to be an NRM at heart, our sources note that the president take him as an old man who has got an opportunity to serve at this level at Makerere University Business School.
“The president wants Baryamureeba to have his time in the sun and prove himself just like Balunywa has his time in the sun already,” insiders add. But other than Baryamureeba, we understand that the president is also looking favorably at Balunywa much as he regards him to be an old man who should be doing consultancy just like educationist Fagil Mandy is doing currently.
Much as these are views and opinions of people claiming to have knowledge of what majority of us do not know and the dynamics at play as far as the vice chancellor race is concerned, what is also true is that president Museveni’s capacity to sway the vote at Makerere or elsewhere cannot be discounted at least for those politically conscious.