Inside Anna Adeke Ebaju’s vision for Makerere University.
Her election as the 79th Makerere and fourth female Guild president after Juliana Norah,Sarah Kagingo and Susan Abbo was greeted with euphoria and excitement. Her staunch supporters coined for her all sorts of names.The Iron lady,The Visionary and The Messiah. Anna Adeke enjoyed honey moon as she descended the highly coveted seat at one of the finest African universities.
Adeke received massive support among female students who were desperate to produce a female guild president having taken the last eight years without one. It was as if Makerere’s Margret Thatcher had come to the ivory tower. It was presented as a new dawn, a rebirth and a new chapter in Makerere’s history.
Adeke projected herself as a messiah sent by God to redefine the student form of representative democracy at the university that has ignored the desperate plight of her students. She denounced her predecessors who had done little to advance and purse student’s cause and demonized Ivan Kata.
She promised to fight the collegiate system,enact an anti-sexual harassment policy and promote dialogue. She said the things that Kata administration had done little to scrap the inhumane and draconian 60 tuition policy,improve student’s welfare in halls of residence,missing marks,beef up Makerere security,stagnant beast of university bureaucracy,boost student pride in voting and restore hope in the disenchanted and despondent student body– all which were against the grist of Makererean values and aspirations.
So the first thing Adeke did upon entering the Guild office was to disappear from student scene . She then promised transparency in guild activities especially in allocation of guild funds and declared that she was going to repair and bridge the gap between student body and the University administration, extend a voice to private students who felt and still feel the impact of university policies and rebuild confidence in the dented image of Guild office as the student’s government.
For many students in Makerere and the community university, the hopes,anxiety and expectations Adeke built have given way to disillusionment. In spite of her rhetoric, Adeke has failed to stimulate serious reforms at the 91 year-old university or improve Guild council’s tainted image among students.
Instead, the lady whom I had in her,unguarded optimism, that she would become an exemplary leader,” has turned out to be a ideal Guild president, like her predecessors. Adeke who promised dialogue led students in taking their petition to Parliament over the university closure has not scrapped the 60% tuition policy.
She has not ended murder cases of students and illegal dismissal of students who engage in genuine strikes that affect their welfare.With Isaac Bagambe’s death still fresh in our minds,we can say the lives of students who reside off-campus are still at stake.She has not stopped sexual harassment of lecturers who take advantage of female students.
In her eight months term of office, the university council has continued to pass policies like 10% tuition increment. Makerereans continue to miss graduation due to recurring problem of missing marks. Instead, Adeke has presided over an indifferent and a guild council that is more concerned with allowances.
She has spent most of her time enjoying trips in UK in the name of executing university exchanges and serving her mother party duties in Najjanankumbi than in Makerere.Personally I have met her at constitutional court more often escorting Rebel Mps. She has been more loyal to her former campaign managers and FDC party officials than her constituents at Makerere university.
I Knew in my first year during her 2013 Guild campaigns that Adeke’s’s idealism was going to confront Makerere’s reality. I think there is little in Adeke’s personality, personal managerial and leadership competences to explain her failures. It has a lot to do with the animal called the The beast of public university bureaucracy. Amakerere guild president, however well intentioned, cannot change the way the university system works. Rather than change the system, they bend to its rules.
Yet after campus, Anna Adeke Ebaju will be feted and treated as a queen by prospective employers with a brand name of having been a Guild president of Makerere University. She has made a good CV, improved her social status,built lifelong networks,enjoyed guild privileges like foreign trips in UK and used the office as a launching pad for her legal and political future career all the expense of an ordinary Makererean who gave her a ticket to the top most office of the university.
Adeke now appreciates reality with the humility of experience.Welcome back to the real world Madam President.
By Otaffire Henry