HOW & WHY MAK COUNCIL FINALLY CRACKED THE WHIP ON IRON-FISTED AYOREKIRE
By Mulengera Reporters
As those concerned converged at the Makerere revenue office to witness the hand over of office by outgoing Manager Revenue & Grants Jackie Keirungi Ayorekire, majority of staffers descended on drinking joints around campus and went on drinking spree just to celebrate her departure. This was on the afternoon of Thursday when University Bursar Evarist Bainomugisha (who also in effect is the Director Finance) led other relevant staff in seeing off Ayorekire who has powerfully served in Makerere for many years having joined in initially as a volunteer S6 vacist more than 20 years ago.
Ayorekire had become so powerful that some of the superiors that insisted on subjecting her to any scrutiny instead paid the price by getting themselves forced out of the Ivory Tower. For instance, when he became Bursar replacing Joshua Karamagi, seasoned finance manager Augustine Tamale (from Vision Group) decreed that she gets transferred to the College of Health Sciences as Bursar. Ayorekire laughed him off sarcastically asking him; “who told you Keirungi can just be moved around like that?” On being advised on how deeply-entrenched she was, Tamale backed off his plans but a red line had already been crossed.
Life was subsequently to become hard for him and his superiors (before whom Ayorekire is blue eyed girl) eventually got him out of the way paving way for less seasoned Bainomugisha’s recruitment from Kyambogo. On getting the job, Bainomugisha was warned to tread carefully on Ayorekire or else his days wouldn’t be many. In the legal jargon, lawyers commonly joke that “a good lawyer is one who knows both the law and more importantly the judge.” Ayorekire made herself powerful in Makerere financial matters by prudently knowing both her finance management mandate and also people who matter most in the Main Building.
When Tamale was out, some feared she was going to become the next Bursar, a scenario many militants in Muasa plotted to resist. Tactfully, she didn’t even try well knowing the best time was yet to come after all age was on her side (being just 40 something). Sources say on realizing how decisive Ayorekire was, Bainomugisha treaded carefully to the extent he many times, during Council meetings, carried the cross that could ideally have been Ayorekire’s. She was in charge of many things including revenues from renting University houses, research grants from donors and other revenue streams. She also had the last word on the monies monthly deducted from employees residing in University houses as contribution towards NWSC & UMEME bills. This isn’t small; its in billions and its something that recently attracted the attention of PAC Chairman Nandala Mafabi.
Using her juicy docket, Ayorekire would sometimes be called upon to fund foreign trips for University officials abroad. People close to her would also sometimes find money to polarize the student’s community by isolating and paying gratification sums to would-be strike ring leaders among students. Equally true, the local police leadership always considered turning to her whenever they ran out of funds to sustain operations aimed at subduing strikes at the Ivory Tower.
DONS HATING HER
But what caused her most hatred related to the University policy (she viciously implemented) relating to 15% being deducted off whatever sum individual professors attracted from the donor world as funding for research work. The justification for this deduction has always been that Makerere, as an institution hosting the research project being implemented, incurs utility and other expenses as a given Professor goes about implementing the research project. Once a grant arrives, Ayorekire (acting on behalf of her employer Mak) would quickly direct the bank to pass on 15% to an account in Stanbic Bank which she controlled. The concerned research dons have always asked tough questions demanding scrutiny into how the 15% is exactly expended. No answers were forthcoming and this is part of the reason why many ended up calling her the invincible iron lady of Makerere. Indeed, no body stood in her way and prevailed. She always won and got her way.
Ever finding her way in top and central management meetings, where she ideally was never supposed to belong, Ayorekire seemed to grow from strength to strength as her views often ended up becoming the views of management leaving many would-be adversaries feeling vanquished and deflated. She was also a proud supporter and defender of many of the VC Barnabas Nawangwe’s hardline decisions that many perceived to be crude and draconian.
END OF THE ROAD
What then exactly went wrong for Ayorekire who many considered material for future University Bursar to find herself out of the Revenue & Grants management so suddenly and dramatically as it happened? With the soon-to-be phased out planning department being her newest posting (had even been advised to protest the ‘demotion’ by dragging the University to court but she declined to), many now consider her days of being synonymous with power long gone and they look forward to a new order at a Makerere that will make major finance decisions without Ayorekire anywhere in the picture.
The unexpected trouble for the babe from Rwampara began recently when Nandala-led PAC demanded explanation on certain income/expenditure decisions and practices. And on return from the not-so-friendly session in Parliament, Council directed management to urgently prepare all the written responses and accountability ahead of their next PAC appearance. Being the accounting officer, much of this responsibility fell on the Ag University Secretary the indefatigable Yusuf Kiranda.
Renowned for taking Council assignments very seriously, Kiranda (barely a year in that US office) began preparing paper work as instructed. To do his job, he must get documentation from the relevant officers and on this occasion, much of the required accountability documents had to come from Ayorekire who had always counted on the big men’s backing to treat her immediate superiors with disdain and contempt. Many times, she got away with it but not so with Kiranda Yusuf.
When asked for documents relating to University income sources directly under her docket, Ayorekire became elusive and instead insisted on submitting those relating to top University officials whom her office had facilitated for trips abroad in the past. These included trips that occurred a few years ago when venerable Eng Wana Etyem was still the governing Council Chairman. As if to cow and intimidate Council, Ayorekire insisted on submitting documents relating to luxury trips their predecessors in the Wana Etyem-era Council had been facilitated to travel abroad for.
Curiously as she prepared the documents for the consumption of Council, some whistle blower petition went to the IGG faulting some of the old Council members for the very luxury trips that were being highlighted in her documentation. This only hardened Council members some of whom saw this as an effort to cow them and show that Council (and not management) was solely responsible for the curious expenditures Nandala’s PAC was inquiring into.
At a subsequent Council meeting, Bursar Evarist Bainomugisha was required to explain but Chairperson Lorna Magara (whose pro-staff policies have made her a darling of staff association members) noticed something wasn’t adding up. Bainomugisha was unusually panicky and seemingly not free to disclose certain things. Magara prudently adjourned the meeting to create time to speak to him in confidence. It’s now believed that some of the things Bainomugisha confided in incorruptible Magara irreversibly altered her views and attitude towards Ayorekire. Sources say Bainomugisha’s confidential revelations made Magara realize how powerful and feared Ayorekire had become and moreover to the detriment of the University and the reforms she intends to see implemented in her tenure as Council Chairperson.
US KIRANDA SWINGS
When the meeting resumed, Kiranda made a submission that further sealed Ayorekire’s fate. Sources say the youthful accounting officer from Busoga repeated his characteristic phrase: “Gentlemen and ladies my bosses the Council members I’m not prepared to go to Luzira. I would rather resign and revert to my substantive position as Deputy US to allow you chance to get someone who will manage this position.” Now this Kiranda scenario was too painful for Magara and other Council members to even ponder.
He is energetic, expeditious on assignments, focused and incorruptible making him the man the new Council would like to do business with given the importance of the US office. Besides being the one determining when and how often Council meetings are to be held, Kiranda as US is the custodian of all University property and is the accounting officer to whom all the billions are entrusted. He also keeps the University seal and is the custodian of everything. He is actually as powerful as Jennifer Musisi was at KCCA making the Lord Mayor and other leaders merely ceremonial. Despite being in the background most of the time, at Makerere and other Universities the US is actually more powerful than the VC.
With Kiranda done with his submission in which he indicated discomfort continuing to have any supervisory role over people like Ayorekire, Magara made it clear they aren’t prepared to lose their selflessly workaholic US. It instantly became clear having to choose between Kiranda and Ayorekire, majority Council members preferred the former. That is how Ayorekire’s fate was decided; none was willing to let reformist Kiranda go just like that.
The discussion came up at a time at least 6 influential Council members had become privy to contents of a very belligerent whatsapp exchange or rant that had months earlier taken place between iron-fisted Ayorekire and some other woman called Susan who, like Ayorekire, is flamboyantly juicy and in her 40s. Originally communicated between Ayorekire and another person, the messages controversially came into the possession of Susan who forwarded and saved them on her smart phone.
A graduate of social sciences from the same Makerere University, Susan is a wealthy business lady running a very lucrative gifts’ business with shops in Garden City and other busy Kampala shopping centers. Sources say she frequently comes to Makerere because she has clients there and it remains unclear how they came to furiously cross each other’s path with Jackie Ayorekire. Unverified reports indicated that very confidential personal information volunteered by a one Eliasa gradually drove a wedge between the two flamboyant ladies.
Anyhow, during the Council meeting one of the members recalled the nasty message exchanges and said; “I think this is time to act because this same lady is becoming too much. Isn’t she the one partly responsible for the past nasty messages’ storm that gratefully never got its way into the media? We would by now have no University to write home about if those careless and uncensored message exchanges hadn’t been kept among the 6 of us and one other lady who has since died.”
This member’s submission was like throwing a stone in a hive of bees as it moved majority members to come to the conclusion it was time for Ayorekire’s big ego to be crushed and the best lawful way to achieve this (it was advised) was leaving her at the same rank of Manager but transfer her to the obscure Planning Department which many see as a soft landing that will gradually confine her into a Katebe-like situation. Her new posting isn’t only unbusy but also doesn’t come with much clout compared to what she had been used to for years. (For comments on this story, call/text us on 020900416 or email us at email@example.com).