Why Makerere Almnus wants Museveni to decline Prof Bazeyo’s nomination for Chancellor

A Makerere University alumnus has asked President Museveni not to assent to the University Council’s recommendation to appoint Professor William Bazeyo Chancellor.

The Chancellor is the titular head of the University who presides at all ceremonial assemblies of the University and in this name, confers degrees and other academic titles and distinctions. He is appointed by the President on the recommendation of the University Council.

In December, Makerere University initiated the search for a new Chancellor to replace Professor Ezra Suruma after his eight years at the helm of Uganda’s oldest Academic institution.

The University planned to finish the process on time so that the new Chancellor could preside over the 74th graduation, but this did not happen, and Vice-Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe presided instead.

Since then, the University has never pronounced itself on any development regarding the process.

However, according to reports, the University Council nominated Professor William Bazeyo, a former Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration, and Engineer Charles Wana Etyem, former University Council Chairperson. Their names were sent to the President.

Reports also indicated that Former Agriculture minister Victoria Ssekitoleko and former vice chancellor of Gulu University Prof Jack Pen-Mogi Nyeko were dropped by the Search Committee.

Professor Nawangwe confirmed that nominees had been sent to the President, but declined to reveal the names. “The position of Chancellor is a Council matter. Nominations have been sent to the Visitor who will make the appointment,” Nawangwe said.

Alumnus wants Bazeyo cancelled

In a letter to the President written by Sam Ninsiima, which this publication has seen, the President is asked to reject the University Council’s recommendation to appoint Bazeyo.

Ninsiima accuses the University council of prioritizing their interests by proposing Bazeyo to the detriment of the broader University community.

“Your Excellence, kindly allow me to inform you of the undeserved selection of Mr. William Bazeyo for Chancellorship and the syndicate associated with the appointment of leaders at Makerere University. What used to be a merit-based system has been replaced with manipulation and interests of individuals in the Council motivated by power and money. The key question to ponder is what is the future of Education under the National Resistance Movement?” he asked.

Ninsiima alleged that Professor Bazeyo has already been implicated in holding a false PhD and questioned how a person who owns a fraudulent PhD would issue legitimate degrees to students.

“How can someone with questionable/fake academic documents be shortlisted while two candidates with credible academic records and who have served the nation with distinction be dropped?” Ninsiima asked.

According to the eligibility criteria for candidates as released by the University, the applicant must a be citizen of Uganda, have at least a bachelor’s degree from a recognized higher institution of learning, and be an eminent person of high integrity and with good public relations.

Ninsiima asked the President to reflect on the context he submitted the letter and protect the image of the University.

In 2020 Professor Bazeyo, who was the acting Makerere University Deputy Vice-Chancellor in Charge of Finance and Administration, resigned amidst questions about his academic credentials and withdrew his candidature from the ongoing search for the substantive Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Finance and Administration).

The professor of occupational medicine and former Dean of the School of Public Health had long been embroiled in a conflict with alumni who questioned the integrity of his qualifications for the position, which he had held as acting for the previous four years.

The petitioners then who included Ninsiima accused Bazeyo of obtaining his Ph.D. from the Hawaii-based Atlantic International University, which isn’t recognized by the United States Department of Education which the National Council for Higher Education (NHCE) concurred with, saying Atlantic International University wasn’t recognized by the council.

A lecturer who preferred anonymity accused the University Council of not protecting the academic integrity of Makerere University.

“It is unfortunate that the University Council is now overshadowed by dealers and can no longer protect the academic integrity of Makerere University anymore. Bazeyo should not have been shortlisted in the first place. How can someone with a fake PhD award genuine Ph.D.s? Where will the learners derive inspiration?” the source asked.

He added ” As soon as recently, he has been running two Makerere University Centers i.e. the Tobacco Centre and Resilient African Network (RAN). This is a glaring conflict of interest. When he applied for the chancellorship, the websites of these centers were edited to remove his name, but we know he is clearly in the background. What happened to academic morality?” alleged the source.

Professor Ezra Suruma, a former Finance and Economics Development Minister is the last Chancellor of Makerere University. He took over from Prof. George Mondo Kagonyera, the Second non-head of State Chancellor who served for two (2) terms from 23rd October 2007 to 23rd October 2015.

Before Kagonyera, it was only Professor Apollo Nsibambi who was also a non-head served as Makerere University Chancellor between 2003-2007.

Previously, several heads of state had served as Makerere University Chancellors including Yoweri Museveni who served from 1986 to 2002, Apollo Milton Obote who served from 1970-1971, 1981-1985, and Idi Amin Dada who served from 1971 to 1979.

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