William Bazeyo: Former Makerere student tells Museveni of 'syndicate in appointments'

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William Bazeyo: Former Makerere student tells Museveni of 'syndicate in appointments'
Former Chancellor Ezra Suruma (2nd L), Education minister Janet Museveni and President Museveni at a past graduation ceremony

Mr William Bazeyo, who resigned from his acting deputy vice-chancellor position in 2020 following an expose of his PhD credentials, is in the running for Makerere University Chancellor position

EDUCATION | A Makerere University alumnus has appealed to President Museveni not to assent to the University Council's recommendation to appoint William Bazeyo as the Chancellor of Uganda's oldest and premier institution of higher learning.

Mr Sam Ninsiima, in an open letter to the President, not only says Makerere is bedeviled with a "syndicate associated with the appointment of leaders".

"What used to be a merit-based system has been replaced with manipulation and interests of individuals in the Council, motivated by power and money," Mr Ninsiima says in his March 31 Open Letter to the President.

The chancellor is the titular head of a public university who superintends over all the institution's ceremonies and awards degrees and certificates.

If appointed, Mr Bazeyo would succeed Prof Ezra Suruma, whose second four-year term ended in December.

But Mr Nansiima has urged President Museveni to protect the image of the premier university in the country and Africa by rejecting Mr Bazeyo.

The President is the Visitor to public institutions of higher learning. He is mandated by Article 30 of the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act to appoint the Chancellor upon the recommendation of the Council.

Mr Ninsiima is not new to his former alma mater's strange love with Mr Bazeyo. In 2020, alongside Mr Amos Werike, he led a legal petition that dragged Bazeyo from the office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Finance and Academic Affairs (DVCFA).

To stop Mr Bazeyo from being appointed as substantive DVCFA in 2020, the two alumni exposed the fact the 'professor' of occupational medicine at Makerere University School of Public Health had been holding an unaccredited doctorate degree.

Their expose was corroborated by the National Council for Higher Education directorate of quality assurance and accreditation, which stated that the Atlantic International University where Mr Bazeyo attained his PhD, was not accredited.

On October 8, 2020, Mr Bazeyo suddenly resigned from his position as acting DVCFA and pulled out of the race for the same.

While he cited personal reasons in the midst of the scandal, Mr Nansiima has told the President that was just an excuse.

"Mr Bazeyo had a fake PhD from Atlantic International University," Mr Ninsiima said in his appeal to the President.

"He realised this and quickly resigned... he was citing personal reasons when he deeply knew that the major reason was lack of qualifications."

The Nile Post has contacted Mr Bazeyo by email to respond to these allegations after failing to get through his known mobile phone number and getting no response on his WhatsApp.

Back with venom

Mr William Bazeyo's PhD credentials were found wanting but he has bounced back to seek leadership position at Makerere

Following the expose, Mr Bazeyo ended his 28-year career at Makerere in 2022 when he officially retired from the university's service.

It had all started in August 1993 after being appointed as a lecturer of occupational health at the School of Public Health.

On Tuesday, August 9, 2022, at Skyz Hotel, Kampala, Makerere feted Mr Bazeyo at a dinner with Vice-Chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe lauding him for "selflessly serving" and making “incredible contributions” to the century-old institution and the country.

But Mr Bazeyo was only retiring, not tired. He popped back into Makerere's leadership talks again.

And, like a moth attracted to light, Mr Ninsiima has popped back, too, with a strong grip on Mr Bazeyo's creased collar.

"You can imagine the people he supervised for their Masters and PhD," he told Nile Post.

"If he insists they [the former graduates] can also be affected. I would advise him to come out and apologise to all of us."

Mr Ninsiima was alluding to the suggestion that with a PhD certified as irregular and unfit to supervise students at higher level, those who passed under Mr Bazeyo's hands are technically holding "fake" Masters and doctorate degrees.

Mr Ninsiima's renewed 'wrath' is because Mr Bazeyo was shortlisted by the Search Committee and his name sent to the University Council.

This information was confirmed by a highly-placed source at Makerere last week.

Prof Ezra Suruma, the outgoing chancellor, awards a distinguished graduand during a past graduation ceremony | Courtesy

At the weekend, it was revealed that the Council had recommended Mr Bazeyo for appointment as chancellor.

Former Council chairman Eng Dr Charles Wana-Etyem is a potential bridesmaid in the process.

Dr Victoria Sekitoleko, a former Agriculture minister and distinguished development agency leader, was dropped by the Council.

Prof Jack Pen-Mogi Nyeko, former vice chancellor of Gulu University, did not make it past the Search Committee's shortlist.

In his appeal to the President, Mr Nansiima blamed lack of merit in appointments of university leaders.

"It is now a common practice for individuals that have never headed departments or even being course co-coordinators to be appointed College Principals or Deputy Principals because they have ‘godfathers’ in the university management," he said.

"How can someone with a questionable and fake academic documents be shortlisted while two candidates with credible academic records and have served the nation with distinction be dropped?"

Some of the issues Mr Ninsiima posits were captured by Dr Abel Rwendeire in his Visitation Committee on Makerere University, 2016, report to the President.

The report, "Bringing the Future to the Present", noted that Makerere was plagued by the existence of "near lifetime members of Council metamorphosing from representation of one constituency to another for Council membership longevity".

The visitation committee said Council members were serving for as long as 20 years.

"This level of entrenchment promotes negative group culture whereby long-serving members dominate Council business with old methods of doing things at the expense of innovative ideas and advice emanating from new members," the report said.

The Rwendeire report was submitted to the President seven years ago and Mr Ninsiima appeared to remind Mr Museveni of the need to fumigate the Council.

He wondered how, having recommended a candidate with questionable academic credentials, Makerere University Council could still claim to promote, protect and uphold the academic integrity of the university.

"Makerere University is a national heritage and an umbilical cord  linking Uganda to the international community that should be setting the standards," Mr Ninsiima said.

Citing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mr Ninsiime said the President of Turkiye was pleased to be awarded an honorary doctorate degree of Makerere University in 2016.

He appealed to Museveni to institute an inquiry into the academic qualifications of professors and associate professors and the general university management at Makerere University.

Mr Ninsiima admitted he was not sure his Open Letter would reach the President but that if it failed, they would consider another legal option.

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