KAMPALA- In April 2012, Mr Fagil Mandy assumed office as chairman of the Uganda National Examinations Board on a three-year contract.
But he chose not to finish his contract after he resigned last week, closing the curtains on a tumultuous reign at the exams body.
At Uneb, he will be remembered for his row with the Education minister Jessica Alupo over the re-appointment of 75-year Mathew Bukenya as executive secretary to the exams body.
Mr Mandy protested the re-appointment, which prompted him to tender in his resignation.
Last month, a report by the IGG noted that Mr Mandy “rubs people the wrong way and could potentially cause a total breakdown of the examinations body”.
But Mr Mandy can boast of an uncanny knack for being a magnet for controversy.
From imposing a decree that forced people to wear shoes to calling MPs buffoons, Mr Mandy is no stranger to being trapped in a storm.
Born some 66 years ago in Fort Portal, western Uganda, Mr Mandy’s first posting was in 1991-as RDC Kapchorwa where he remembers to have spent around six months.
It was in Kapchorwa that he nurtured an obsession for shoes, a fascination that would become a stain on his several stints as RDC.
In the early 90’s, shoes were a luxury-but not so for Mr Mandy whose mum worked for a British household.
He recalls that a visit to one of the schools in Kapchorwa was a rude awakening about the plight of bare-footed children.
“I visited a school toilet in Kapchorwa and maggots were on the surface where children squatted. Bare-footed children were stepping and squatting on maggots. That is when I declared that children should wear shoes to protect themselves against germs,” Mr Mandy reminisced in a telephone interview yesterday.
From Kapchorwa, he was transferred to Fort Portal and there, he ruffled more feathers with his shoes’ decree.
He issued a pronouncement to the effect that anyone wearing bathroom sandals or is bare-footed would not be allowed into Fort Portal town.
It triggered a storm as some town dwellers caught on the wrong side of the decree were arrested.
“In Kabarole, I declared a ‘Keep Kabarole Clean’ campaign. If you ask the people in Kabarole, they will not say it was forcing. It was sensitisng. I was not asking people to buy expensive shoes but the cheapest like ‘tyre shoes’,” Mr Mandy said.
Throughout the interview, Mr Mandy enthuses about shoes and sandals-creating an image of a man clearly in love with shoes.
He meticulously recalls the number of children that had shoes in one school while others told him that they wore theirs occasionally.
“I visited Elgon Primary School and out of 700 children, only 18 had sandals,” Mr Mandy recalls.
After his controversy riven stint in Kabarole, Mr Mandy was transferred to Tororo. He says he continued what he calls a “sensitisation campaign on sanitation, food security and security”.
After Tororo, Mr Mandy was appointed to the Education Ministry as commissioner and controversy followed him there.
In one of his addresses when he was still at the Ministry of Education, Mr Mandy was quoted in the media referring to MPs as ‘baboons’, however, he says this was a creation of the Daily Monitor as he was quoted out of context.
“That is the Monitor which caused that crisis. I was talking to leaders and students and I told them that they should stop electing buffoons to Parliament. But the editor changed it to baboons. Buffoonery is just joking around and playing around,” Mr Mandy said in defence.
Mr Fagil Mandy, former Uneb chairman
Background: In 1991, Mr Mandy was appointed as Resident District Commissioner in Kapchorwa where he stayed for six months. From Kapchorwa, he was transferred to Fort Portal before he was moved to Tororo in the same position. He was later appointed as commissioner in the Ministry of Education where is remembered to have instituted a strict supervision routine in schools, especially during national examination periods. In April 2012, Mr Mandy was appointed Uneb chairman. However, last week he resigned from the position challenging the methods of work at the examinations body, saying “I don’t agree with the way things are being done at Uneb whether it is a directive from President Museveni or not, I don’t agree”.