Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe has been attacked severally over his leadership style.
Some MPs last week said he is running Makerere University like a kindergarten.
However, Nawangwe sees himself differently. To him, he is the best leader Makerere University has ever had.
Contrary to criticism, he says he enjoys a strong relationship with his students.
“I don’t think there is any Vice Chancellor who has opened up to students more than me… No Vice Chancellor has made student leaders more than me; I meet the Guild President every week. The issue of saying the VC threatened students via SMS, I want evidence,” Nawangwe (pictured) said.
The Prof. made the remarks today while appearing before the Parliamentary Education Committee that is investigating the recent violence that rocked the University while students protested the 15% tuition increment last week.
Nawangwe’s remarks were in response to remarks by Bugiri Municipality MP, Asuman Basalirwa, who argued that the VC has created an impression that he is are very highhanded when it comes to suspension and expulsion of students and is topping list of VCs with highest number of expelled students in the University’s history.
“These regulations have existed, your predecessors haven’t used them, those student leaders aren’t your age, they are coming at University at 19, treat them as your children,” Basalirwa said.
He added: “Suspension wasn’t panacea, I don’t know how often you have personal engagement with student leaders, suspension would be last option, speak to students, you would be able to diffuse tension. A University is a market place of ideas.”
Nawangwe described the accusations as lies.
“I am the Vice Chancellor who has the best relationship with the students, I beat all my predecessors at interacting with students and they love me. That is why in the recent strike, they have listened to me. So whoever says I am highhanded is lying,” Nawangwe said.
He also defended the tuition increment, saying the public shouldn’t be duped into thinking that the fees increment would increase the University’s revenue but the increment is intended to maintain Makerere’s position globally and tasked Parliament to come up with funding mechanisms to sustain Makerere.
“As a country, we need to think together if we want to sustain Makerere as a top University. The current funding of Government is quite high, the fees we are charging, people are contesting them but the money we are collecting as a lump sum can’t sustain our standards. That is why there was this proposal (to increase tuition). Now Parliament as people’s representatives need to come up with funding mechanisms,” he said.
Asked by Winnie Kiiza, Kasese Woman MP to explain if he was behind the military deployment at the University, Nawangwe denied the claims, arguing that Makerere has a fully-fledged Police post station which was put in place by Government that is headed by a chief security officer who supervises the police station.
“The Police are the ones that take charge of security at the University; we don’t spend a single shilling on them. The Vice Chancellor doesn’t have the authority to deploy Police or military for that matter but this isn’t the first that the military is invited to quell the situation,” he said.