On Friday, city lawyer Isaac Kimeze Semakadde led Makerere University staff in spontaneous celebrations following Ruth Iteu Eyoku’s landslide victory in elections to determine the Senior Administrative Staff (MASA) representative on the Governing Council. Iteu, whose earlier election victory Makerere top management resisted for months, polled 182 votes against the 82 votes scored by Dr. Euzobia Baine Mugisha (the outgoing incumbent) who the electors perceived to be the one favored by the VC Prof Barnabas Nawangwe-led top management. Total votes cast were 267. It was a great day for Semakadde because he had been representing Iteu and other MASA members in protracted court battles against management decisions including one blocking Iteu’s entry into council on grounds she hadn’t been properly elected. In what showed how much hope the staffers have in Iteu, the unprecedented celebrations lasted sometime before people retreated to discuss their victory (over management) on the various social media platforms. In this story, we disclose some of the hitherto unknown things about Iteu, a relentless fighter who management mistakenly thought would give up paving way for Euzobia Baine to cruise to another 4 year term as Administrative Staff representative in both council and Appointments Board.

L-R: Joseph Kalema, Isaac Semakadde, Benet Magara and Ruth Iteu Eyoku moments after the latter’s victory

ITEU UNTOLD STORY

The bubbly lady from Teso has worked with Makerere now for 23 years implying she must be in her 40s. Because her father was an influential figure in the Academic Registrar’s Department (growing to the rank of Senior Deputy Registrar), Iteu as a child grew up in Makerere staff quarters. Her father’s residence was in the house now housing the Legal and PR Directorates of Makerere opposite the old Faculty of Social Sciences. As a little kid, Iteu went to Nakasero Primary School before joining Trinity College Nabbingo after completing PLE. From Nabbingo, she joined Old Kampala SS where she completed her A’level. YMCA Wandegeya was her next stop. Here she graduated with a UNEB-certified UDBS Diploma which enabled her to join Makerere University service as a temporary staff in 1997. Her father had just retired and left the previous year 1996. She was posted in the AR department where her dad had worked before retirement and her first designation was that of “Records Clerk.” She was recruited with many others (like Ochodo, Nandutu, Margaret Zimula & Peter Kayonde) and their daily job was that of entering data. Makerere was yet to ponder comprehensive computerization of its records. Senate House became Iteu’s place of work and continues to be up to this day. She liked the work because her dad had taught her a little bit of computer operations prior. She used to earn Shs60,000 per month as salary but she soldiered on. In the early 2000s, Iteu (considered harsh by some) desired for promotion which would only result from acquisition of more qualifications. She enrolled for a degree in Library Information Systems (BLIS) which she completed in 2003 and graduated shortly after. This entitled her to a promotion from a mere data clerk/entrant to an Administrative Assistant within the AR department. In 2016, she was further promoted to Senior Administrative Assistant. This was after completing a Master’s Degree in Information Systems which she did at Ndejje University.

A photo montage of Prof Nawangwe and Iteu

Why Ndejje? As an insider, she knew how difficult it was to get a dedicated supervisor at Makerere’s Computer Science Faculty whose Dean then Prof Venescias Baryamureeba set very high standards and demanded quick results which forced many senior academic staff members to quit. They weren’t willing to work under such a very demanding environment Baryamureeba had created as Dean. Fearing that lack of dedicated and dependable supervisors would cause her unnecessary delays for the completion of her master’s degree, Iteu chose Ndejje. Gratefully she didn’t have to pay because a German Embassy program called DDAD offered her a scholarship as part of their capacity building program to promote women into science-based disciplines. The Ndejje training created more appetite in her to acquire even more qualifications and that is how she enrolled at UMI where she graduated with a Post Graduate Diploma in Information Systems. By 2012 when head of AR’s IT division Dr. Barongo went for his PhD studies, the Mak authorities considered Iteu the natural person to replace him in acting capacity. Barongo returned in 2015 only to get suspended shortly after as part of the investigations into criminal falsification of student results at the AR department. Iteu was asked to carry on with the post of acting head of the AR’s IT Division which she holds up to this day. Barongo was suspended along with Dennis Mbabazi and a one Chris. Their suspension was preceded by comprehensive investigations by the University, a storm Iteu survived because she wasn’t among those considered culpable for that anomalous situation at Senate House.

MENTORED BY THE BEST

In her current position, Iteu oversees the training and deployment of AR/Senate staff concerned with electronic processing and storage of students’ admission records, entry of exam results, preparation of transcripts and custody for all student records. The single mother of one was born and raised in a family of three children-herself being the middle child and all of them were girls. One is a top accountant working with one of the entities in the Agricultural Ministry and the other is an administrator working with a top city law firm. Clearly this means they are all materially doing well even when their late father brought them up to despise material things. In her 23 years at AR department, Iteu has served under a number of Academic Registrars including Hyuha Mukwanason, Olar Odur and the current AR Alfred Namoah Masikye. She also at some point worked under the direct supervision of Elisha Obella (who left Makerere to become founding AR for Busitema University). There is optimism that in the so many years remaining to her retirement, Iteu could rise even more in the Makerere career ladder. Some say with her entry into Council (which is the topmost organ of the University), the sky is now the limit. Many are nervously waiting to see how well she will relate with VC Nawangwe and other leaders of top management she will now be supervising as Council member. Iteu also represents Makerere staff in the Staff Tribunal, a very powerful body to which aggrieved staff appeal protesting any HR-related decisions by management or Appointments Board. While there, she has always been very outspoken in defense of staff rights, something the electors sought to reward by voting her overwhelmingly during the Friday polling exercise. One only hopes that the experience of serving at the Council level sobers her up and transforms her into a more accommodative person as opposed to a very combative lady she has always been in the Makerere staff movement. Those close to her say that the recent battles (that saw some colleagues suspended for standing up to Nawangwe-led management) have somehow made Iteu to become exhausted and to begin thinking of scaling down on the hard-line approach. Only time will tell. For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755.  

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