Nawangwe on the spot as MPs resurrect Shs16.7b NIC scandal

Friday August 14 2020
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Makerere University Vice-Chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe. PHOTO | ALEX ESAGALA

Members of Parliament (MPs) are pushing for a select committee to investigate Makerere University vice chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe and other officials linked to a Shs16.7b pension scandal.

The MPs allege that Prof Nawangwe and other university officials caused a Shs8.7 billion loss in settlement of a long-standing dispute involving Makerere University Retirement Benefits Scheme (MURBS) and National Insurance Corporation (NIC).

The MPs, who held a press conference at Parliament yesterday, accused Prof Nawangwe of abuse of office and settling the matter out of court even after the office of the Auditor General (AG) issued a clear report on the NIC dispute.

The AG report put the outstanding figure at Shs26.7 billion. NIC, however, disputed the figure and the matter ended up at State House.

The MPs have also accused Prof Nawangwe and other officials of accepting a building on Kampala Road, worth Shs8 billion yet MURBS was demanding Shs16.7 billion.
The western youth MP, Mr Mwine Mpaka, said Prof Nawangwe and his deputy William Bazeyo had no powers to settle the matter out of court, leading to the loss of lecturers’ savings.

“We want the VC and his deputy to step aside so that investigations are carried out into their grave misconduct, abuse of office and causing government financial loss. The VC orchestrated a sham out of the court consent agreement in which the university received a building on Kampala Road valued by the government valuer at only Shs8 billion,” Mr Mpaka said.

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The Kigulu South MP, Mr Andrew Kulunya, talked of suspected fraud in the out-of-court settlement deal.
“It is a clear manifestation that there could be fraud causing financial loss to the university,” Mr Kulunya said.

Although the President advised Makerere University officials led by Prof Nawangwe to sue NIC so as to recover the lecturers’ funds, the latter allegedly acted against Mr Museveni’s directive and decided to settle the matter out of court.

Prof Nawangwe told Daily Monitor in a telephone interview yesterday that the university agreed to take over the building worth Shs8 billion from NIC out of the court ruling after “a prolonged process.”
Prof Nawangwe said NIC contested that they did not owe the university Shs16.7 billion as claimed and they refused to pay it to the university until they took them to court.

“Those saying that we ate the money should appreciate our effort for recovering part of the money. We were not able to recover the whole amount but we did something. The government failed to bring evidence to show that NIC owed Makerere staff Shs26.7 billion so it was difficult to recover a full amount,” Prof. Nawangwe said.

Background
Makerere University staff used to save staff benefits with NIC. When NIC was privatised, staff protested and said they wanted to pull out of NIC. NIC said the money they had from the university was Shs11b.

The staff went on strike in 2010 and said they demanded more than Shs11 billion, something that attracted government attention and instructing the Auditor General to query the actual amount. The Auditor General established that NIC owed Makerere staff Shs26.7 billion. But NIC had paid Shs11b hence they had to pay more Shs16.7b.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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