BY VINCENT NUWAGABA
As Makerere heads to the polls for the convocation elections on the 13th December 2014, I am offering myself to provide strategic leadership to the university. I am not standing because I need to elevate myself but because I need to elevate the university to which I belong. Ultimately, if the university is elevated, I will equally be elevated and everyone associated with it will be elevated. I am fully convinced that if Makerere regains its number one position in Africa, all of us holders of Makerere University credentials will highly be respected wherever we are. It is our duty now to work for the elevation of Makerere University. Accordingly, I am standing as Chairman Makerere University Convocation for the following reasons:
1) My leadership will work tooth and nail to ensure that Makerere University has its own publishing house akin to what other prestigious universities do own. The Makerere University printery shall give way for Makerere University Publishers/Press. Prof Christopher Mbazira of the School of Law in particular told me that whenever and wherever he travels outside and he syas he is from Makerere, the first question he is asked “Why doesn’t Makerere have a publishing House?” The usefulness of a publishing house cannot be overemphasized. With a publishing house, Makerere Faculty members will start teaching people using their own books because it is easy to publish. As we talk now even Mawazo Journal is defunct. This is quite unfortunate and we the alumni have to do a lot to redeem the image of our alma mater
2) During my leadership Makerere University shall run a weekly News Magazine wherein I and other prominent alumni and staff will run regular columns on issues of governance, constitutionalism, rule of law, democracy and all societal issues from a holistic perspective. There is nothing that stops Makerere University Convocation from running a weekly magazine. We still live in the nostalgia of The Transition Magazine.
3) My leadership shall erect a radio station with a national and regional (East African) coverage with a view to engaging the entire populace on issues that matter. The programmes will be broadcast in various languages. In the near future, we shall pool resources and have a television station. We must work through and with the media if Makerere is to regain its past glory. And, I insist all is possible. It only requires us to decide that we want a, b and c. Remember there is nothing impossible (Luke 1: 37) since ours is a world of possibilities.
4) My leadership shall start a serious research institute to carry out academic research but also applied research that is necessary for development. This will equip our young but talented graduates to build a career in research. For sure, research is a sine qua non for development. This will also help curb graduate employment whereby the most brilliant graduates will be employed in the convocation research institute. This will ultimately curb the evil practice of having coursework mercenaries in and around Makerere University.
5) My leadership will put in place a sturdy secretariat of not less than fifty members to purely run convocation matters. I feel so sad to find that memberless NGOs far outshine Makerere University Convocation, an organisation to which all alumni and members of staff are members.
6) I, together with my team shall create a data base of everybody who has gone through the gates of Makerere as a student, lecturer, professor, and administration staff or even support staff. This data base will help us reach out to key stakeholders to provide solutions that have beset Makerere University. I am sure we have alumni who if well mobilized and reached out to each one can donate not a minimum of $400 to Makerere University. But alas, here we are crying that we do not have money and the only source is by increasing students’ fees. This is a short-lived measure and breeds strikes instead but does not build for the future that we desire.
7) I shall fight root and branch, body, mind and soul, left, right and centre for the welfare of Makerere University students for they are all our young siblings and we are their big brothers and sisters.
8) During my tenure as a university council member, fees increments will be a thing of the past. Section 2 of the Universities and Tertiary Institutions Act (UTIA) is clear. A public university is run out of public funds. What it means is that all students of Makerere University including private sponsored students must never be denied access on the basis of exorbitant and prohibitive fees. Private students are in particular meant to be subsidised.
9) My leadership will take Makerere University convocation to the people in the countryside including to all East African countries and the diaspora. Thus, we shall have a regional office for each of the four regions respectively; we shall have convocation offices in Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi but also South Sudan. And we shall have an office in the Diaspora to make Makerere a global University.
10) My leadership will start a Makererean Think Tank on all socio-economic and political issues. This tank shall majorly do academic research and disseminate findings through publications and public fora. Never again will anything take place in Uganda without the input of thousands of intellectuals that Makerere has churned out.
11) My leadership will mobilise and organise all Makerere Alumni around issues of a socio-economic nature and ultimately we shall form a social movement that will dictate to our national and regional leaders on what must be done. This social movement if I can be allowed to borrow a leaf from the words of Martin Luther shall ensure that nobody in Uganda or outside bends their back to enable other people ride on it.
12) Via the data base, we shall share all the opportunities - jobs, scholarships, short fellowships, research grants and so forth to all Makerere Alumni and staff
13) My leadership will spearhead constitutional amendment to ensure that students also participate in the voting for the Convocation leadership. One may ask, “how can they vote yet they are not alumni and are not allowed to stand?” My answer to such a question is, there is nothing strange, there is nothing spectacular, there is nothing new or unique about it. We men vote for Women MPs but cannot stand. The justification is that women issues and concerns are directly or indirectly concerns of men. This is because every woman has either a husband or a father or a brother or a son. Likewise, the convocation is represented at the university council. Council is the supreme decision-making organ of the University. Council decisions affect students as well as staff. The convocation right now comprises of alumni and staff but not students. We need to make it more embracing and make the campaigns for leadership positions vibrant, open and more participatory and inclusive.
14) My leadership will routinely organize an Alumni Reunion day each year. On this day presentations from prominent alumni will be delivered with a view to charting a direction for the university. The alumni reunion day will be different from the AGM. But also, we shall have as and when necessary special or extraordinary general meetings to discuss pressing issues. The members will accordingly be part and parcel of running the convocation.
15) Our team shall make Identification Cards for Convocation members. This means that even if one lost their University student identification card, the Convocation can work as an alternative. This is handy especially given that after graduation one cannot get a student Identification card yet it is necessary especially while applying for any further studies either at Makerere or elsewhere.
16) Once elected into office, I shall in liaison with my team members establish a convocation advisory council of ten to twenty members comprising of outstanding former convocation leader (s), prominent academics, prominent businessmen/women, a prominent former guild president and prominent public/civil servant(s).
17) My leadership will classify members on the basis of voluntary subscriptions. We shall have platinum category of members, diamond category, gold category and silver category. We shall endear the alumni, staff members and former staff members to Makerere University by making the Convocation relevant.
18) My leadership will reinstate Convocation parties after graduation so that fresh graduates who might not have organised parties can attend the convocation party, cut a cake and have their parents entertained by Makerere University. Making parties for the fresh graduates is the best means of convoking them into the family of Makerere University alumni.
19) The money fundraised by the convocation members shall be used to enhance staff members' salaries, subsidise students fees, fund academic research and build a convocation complex, among others. Never again shall Makerere kneel before the head of state for funding because this dilutes the institution's independence.
The above and very many other ideas that will be generated by the distinguished convocation members, my team and I will ensure we begin on a journey of liberating Makerere University and ensuring that it lives up to its motto of “We build for the future”.
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