Power struggles at Makerere University that have turned into accusations of graft and counter-claims of political witch-hunt involving senior officials worsened yesterday with parallel adversarial press conferences at the campus.
Moments after the institution’s academic staff association chairperson, Dr Tanga Odoi, raised questions about the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba’s, academic area of specialty, the VC convened an emergency media briefing during which he accused Dr Tanga of fighting political wars.
The two heads were understood to be close friends with Dr Odoi reportedly leading the 2009 campaigns that saw Prof. Baryamureeba become the VC. It is not clear why they have since fallen out.
At yesterday’s press conference, Dr Odoi also presented documents that he said link Prof. Baryamureeba, the then dean of the Faculty of Computing and Information Technology (ICT), to a company that supplied the faculty with equipment.
Documents show that the project, which the VC managed while at the faculty, retained at least Shs66 million from donors, which it intends to spend next financial year.
Dr Odoi said the link could constitute a conflict of interest although that could not be independently verified. Prof. Baryamureeba is assisting several government agencies that are investigating use of donor funds by the ICT Faculty.
Accountability queries have been raised about Euros 160,000 (Shs480m), part of the Euros 5.7m (Shs17b), extended under The Netherlands Organisation for International Cooperation in Higher Education (NUFFIC) project as scholarship for 20 PhD students.
The students then got tuition waivers granted in a March 4, 2008 meeting that was Prof. Baryamureeba chaired.
In a April 19 letter, replys to questions from detective Aaron Idro, the police officer at CID headquarters handling the inquiries into the alleged misuse of the Dutch funds, Prof. Baryamureeba wrote that the “Shs66m realised from tuition waiver will be used to pay tuition for 17 students for one academic year 2012/13”.
The balance, he said, would pay for fees of one student for the 2013/14 academic year, clear functional fees and research costs for 18 students and facilitate academic travel-related travel of six students.
The Dutch scholarship scheme from which the “savings” were made, has already formally been closed.
It’s audit reports duly approved by both the Auditor General’s office in Kampala and the Netherlands government, although both have re-opened inquiries after it emerged that the initial accountability could have been incorrect.
Daily Monitor broke the story of the suspect handling of the NUFFIC funds in a January 27 edition. Prof. Baryamureeba has denied any wrongdoing and called for a speedy investigation to clear his name.