Gulu varsity reopens after strike

Wednesday October 24 2012

By James Eriku


Students of Gulu University are free to go back to the campus and attend lectures a day after the institution was closed by the Resident District Commissioner, following days of violent protests over alleged maladministration.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof Jack Nyeko Pen-mogi, convened an “emergency” press conference on Monday and told the media the university would open on Tuesday as “we wait to meet the university council and the guild body on the 31st this month to iron out the students’ grievances.”

VC’s call
“We are going to address some of the concerns of the students that are within our means while those that are beyond us, we shall refer them; the guild can now use its van as it wishes, it can do anything with it, among other grievances,” Prof Pen-Mogi said.

Earlier, Mr James Nabinson Nock Kidega, the Resident District Commissioner, together with his deputy, Ms Emilia Kinyera, had failed to resolve the students-administration standoff and closed the government-aided institution to avoid an escalation of violence. This was after students smashed several windows at the university as the Regional Police Commander, Mr Paul Nkore, cautioned against the violence.

The strike entered its third day on Monday, following the arrest of 16 students over the violence. But they were released after fellow students threatened to storm Gulu Central Police Station, where they were being held.

In a separate address to the university community on the government-owned Mega FM on Monday evening, Prof. Pen-mogi said the issue of limited space and poor structures could not be easily addressed because the institution lacked land for expansion.

Unresolved demands
At the start of the strike, the students’ guild led by their president, Mr Denis Akena, downed their tools, protesting alleged failure by the management to address a number of issues facing them.

Mr Akena said they acted after sensing that the university management “did not want to cooperate with us hence it was the only way to make them to react to the issues”. This pronouncement came just minutes after teargas rocked the main campus of the 10-year-old institution on Friday.