BY AGATHA MUHAISE
Dr John Senyonyi, the vice chancellor of Uganda Christian University (UCU),has called upon the government to help with the problems the university is facing with squatters on the land in Ntawo.
During the third part of the Seventh Graduation ceremony that took place at the main campus’ new Recreation Ground on October 21, Senyonyi clarified that UCU Holdings, a not-for-profit company of the university, is the rightful owner of the one-square-mile piece of land in Ntawo that has recently been taken over by squatters.
“The university has been crippled and is unable to create alternative revenue because of being kept off that land. Consequently, the university finds itself leaning heavily on students’ fees.
“I wish to make an appeal to the government to come to our rescue quickly. We have been promised repeatedly but with each passing day, the situation gets worse with increasing lawlessness,” Senyonyi said.
The vice chancellor further expressed concern over the Uganda land law that treats land owners as underdogs compared to squatters, instead of protecting the rightful owners of land. On August 23 this year, police rescued the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali, 38 other provincial bishops and UCU staff in Ntawo, after a mob attempted to torch the bus in which they were travelling.
The following day, Ms Mary Karooro Okurut, the minister of General Duties in the Office of the Prime Minister, apologised to the bishops for the “regrettable incident,” pledging government support in resolving the Church’s land woes.
On the upside, the graduation ceremony was a colourful event at which the university sent off the pioneer graduates in a number of new courses.
These included Master of Laws in Oil and Gas Management, Master of Laws in International Business Law, Bachelor of Science in Oil and Gas Management, and the Diploma in Procurement and Logistics Management.
The function was well attended by proud parents, excited graduates, and several prominent personalities,includingthe chief guest, Dr Os Guinness, a renowned Christian author and social critic.
Other notable guests were Gen Elly Tumwine; and Mr Mark Bartels, the executive director of UCU Partners USA, a Virginia- based charity organisation whose intent is to solicit support for the university. Mr Pieter Elbers, the CEO of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, was also present to witness the graduation of a student sponsored by his organisation.
In his speech, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali introduced the new Chairman of the University Council, Rt Rev Dr Fred Sheldon Mwesigwa, who is replacing Rt Rev Dr Joel Obetia who has served the university for four years.
Ntagali urged the graduates to fly UCU’s flag high in accordance with the Christian values they have acquired.
“I wish to remind you that the status of this university is the status of your degree, and subsequently your contribution as alumni will be passed on to your progeny. Therefore, you are key stakeholders for this university,” he said.
The university saw off 1,594 graduates, 44 of whom had first-class degrees. The female students made up 56% (900) of the graduates.
Ms Fiona Nakibuuka was the overall best student, graduating with a GPA of 4.82 in the Bachelor of Community Heal