Lugazi University will be turned into a national defence college after the army yesterday took over the ownership of the premises.
The under secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Ms Edith Buturo, said after receiving the land titles at the university campus in Lugazi, that they had paid Shs5 billion as the first installment. The balance will be paid during the 2011/12 financial year.
The national defence college will be a research and development centre for soldiers from the East African community, Ms Buturo said. “It’s a fulfilment of the defence cooperation in the East African Community. This facility will be a regional centre for excellence which will be used for skills-enhancement,” she said.
She dismissed press reports that some defence officials had inflated the purchase price to shs25 billion. “Those reports were baseless and wrong,” she said. “The sale was based on willing buyer-willing seller agreement after t running adverts in papers calling for offers.”
Lugazi University closed recently because of financial constraints and continuing students have been re-admitted to other universities. Its closure followed the National Council for Higher Education notice that the institution stood the risk of deregistration if it did not work towards meeting set standards.
The former proprietor of the university, Mr Alfred Higenyi, said he sold the facility because of financial pressure. “We had loans to pay and the interest had accumulated to Shs8billion. We decided to dispose of the university,” he said.
The premises will now house the UPDF engineering unit because the one in Magamaga Barracks in Jinja District is short on space.
The deputy Chief of Defence Forces, Lt. Gen. Ivan Koreta, said the establishment of the military academy will is part of the ongoing process to professionalise UPDF.