Gulu University is choking on debts worth billions of shillings in unpaid salary arrears to teaching and non-teaching staff.
On Monday, lecturers laid down their tools, declining to administer end of semester one exams over the nonpayment of their extra load allowances - throwing into uncertainty the academic future of over 4,000 students.
Yesterday, Prof Jack Nyeko Pen-Mogi, the acting Gulu University vice chancellor circulated a circular suspending the exams indefinitely. Professor David Kitara Lagoro, the chairperson Gulu University, says the university owes the lecturers Shs 700 million in extra load allowances.
He blames the utter mismanagement of funds disbursed by government to the University for gratuity in the 2013/14 financial year for the mess.
"In 2013/14 full compilation of the list of those who deserve to get gratuity was submitted to government, and as the evidence shows, this money was actually approved by government and was sent to Gulu University about Shs 2.1 billion.
Now what happened when the money came here, is what is hurting every single Gulu university staff who is supposed to benefit from this. The problem is staff who were due to get total gratuity of Shs 25 million, they first ask you to sign for Shs 15 which they don’t give you, then later on they ask you to sign for like Shs 10 million and then they give you Shs 2 million. So at the end of the day they tricked some few staff but at the end of the day this came to light", said Lagoro.
The others he says are dissertation and thesis marking allowances, which have accumulated for the last ten years. According to Prof Lagoro, lecturers in Gulu and St. Mary's teaching hospitals are also claiming their honorary allowances.
"These two hospitals have their full-time staff who are doctors, specialists and in the wisdom of the university, they were appointed as honorary lecturers and the other cadres as tutors of the university. Honorary lecturers, we may be looking at about 30 people. They teach students, they demonstrate to the students in hospitals.
They take them to the theatre, they do everything for the sake of the quality of hospitals. Each person is supposed to get about Shs 700,000 in allowances. But the report we have got is that for the last one year, these people have not been paid", Lagoro added.
According to Prof Lagoro, Gulu University has been operating without funds for research for several years, saying each head of department had to improvise for his department. He explains that the most affected staff at the university are part time lecturers as well as those in Kitgum campus.
"The most painful are the part time lecturers. We have colleagues of ours, young people in our community who have made it through thick and thin, they are part time lecturers within the university.
They are paid using this weekend allowances and for the last one year, money has not touched their accounts. The same thing for the Kitgum campus, the money has not been paid. Students collected, parents provided the money but money is not there. The other is the external examiners to look at the overall performance in the department and also give their report about the programmes and conduct of the examinations. Many of our external examiners do their work and are not paid and this has been ongoing for almost three years", he added.
When contacted for comment on the allegations Prof George Openjuru Ladaa, the acting Gulu University vice chancellor said he was held up in a meeting.