Baz Waiswa

Baz Waiswa

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Nabunya Speaks Out About Pressure Being First Female Victoria University Guild President

Not many times do we see women get hold of top leadership positions in our society which is male dominated. It is even uncommon if the woman in question is a student at young but steadily growing university.

Maria Peggy Nabunya, the new guild president of Victoria University Kampala, has added her name to the short list of female guild presidents to rise that high in Uganda’s education history.

In this exlusive interview with Earthfinds, Ms Nabunya elaborates what this feat means to her, her plans for the university and vows to make an everlasting legacy at Victoria University Kampala, owned by businessman Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia.

Tell us about your background and the important parts of your life that the public should know about you as the new guild president of Victoria University Kampala.

My name is Maria Peggy Nabunya. I’m a student here at Victoria University Kampala. I’m doing a bachelors degree in science in public health, this is my second year. I have one and a half years to finish the course.

Aside from being a student, I have a television show. It is called Girl Talk. It was on NBS Television for some time but it is now in Kenya on Citizen Television.

I traveled a lot before university. I started my nursery here in Kampala. I did a little bit of my primary education at Kampala Parents’ School up to P3 then I left the country. I joined my parents in United Arab Emirates (UAE).

I stayed there for sometime before I came back in my O’level – in senior three (It is year nine in Cambridge education system). I came back and joined Agha Khan where I completed by O’level. Then for my A’level, I was at St Lawrence Crown City. While at Crown City I was the head girl.

What attracted you to join students’ leadership in schools that you attended? What inspired you to join school politics?

I have been a leader in high school before. In O’level I was junior house captain and in A’level I was the head girl. In my normal life, I am the first born. So leadership has been with me for a very long time.

So coming to Victoria University and be presented with an opportunity to be guild president was obvious for me, I had to do it. It is a challenge, that I am very well aware, but then it is also something I am sure I can take on.

What do you hate and love about leading your fellow students?

What I love about being a student leader is that if there is anything you want and love, you can easily push it directly to the people concerned and it happens. I also like the idea that being a student leader I can be able to interact with students.

What I hate about it is the meetings. I don’t like sitting in meetings.

Why did you choose Victoria University Kampala of all universities in Uganda and the world?

First of all given my background and moving around the world exposed me, when I saw and read about Victoria University, and talked to a few friends who had been here, it was just a perfect choice for me.

It is an international University. Here you are exposed to so much – networking, great internships plus I liked the idea of a getting a free laptop (Editor: Each student who joins Victoria University is given a free laptop).

Two years down the road as a student at Victoria University Kampala, how best can you describe your stay here, at this university?

My stay here at Victoria University has been one of a kind. It has not been like any other institution where I have been. People here are so warm and welcoming.

And the fact that we are not many students gives you a chance to interact with everyone at a very personal level. And you have access to everybody in administration.

We have an open door place so when you want to talk to a lecture, dean or the vice chancellor himself, it is very easy. They are willing to help you. My stay here has been awesome, the internship – it has been amazing.

Would you join Victoria University if you have another opportunity and task to choose which university to join for your post secondary education?

I would choose Victoria University in a heartbeat.

What inspired you to join student leadership here at Victoria University and later vie for guild presidency?

It is a very funny way how this came about. Like I said leadership has always been with me. There are people who saw it in me faster than I did last year. So they came to me and talked to me.

They asked if I had thought about being a student leader here at the University. The opportunity presented itself and I was not going to turn it down.

I was ready for leadership but I had not thought about it until I was approached.

What are some of your plans for the University as guild president? What do you want your tenure to accomplish by the end of the mandate?

As a member of the previous guild cabinet there are many things that we achieved and we are very proud. My plan is that I want to leave a legacy.

I want people at Victoria University to look back and say in 2018 this was done. And because of that, I am looking at things that are going to last for a long time.

The plans that I have will start with us in this cabinet but will go on for a long time. First of all, I am looking at engaging students more in activities that make them use their brains.

At the end of the day we are going to leave this place and go out there in the working world. You have to go there when you are equipped. You know Victoria University is all about creating job creators but not job seekers.

So in that aspect, as guild president, I feel there is a lot that I can do with my team to make that happen. We are encouraging students to start something for themselves. We want to look at people developing their talents.

You mentioned in an earlier interview that you plan to engage other universities and other higher institutes of learning, how exactly do you plan to do this?

You see there are very many inte- university activities apart from sports. What we have been doing is that we have been so active in sports especially football.

There are also other activities happening that we hear about like the miss interuniversity competitions and leadership summits, we want to be part of all these.

As a former vice guild president, what are some of the pressing challenges that the student leadership and university management need to address?

First of all, the first thing that has been challenge is students’ cooperation. You know University students want to come, do their thing and get out. I intend to change it. I want people to be more engaged.

The other challenge is raising funds for the sustainability of the activities you want to carry out. But I have a strong team behind me, they are hands on. We have ways of addressing these challenges.

Now that you are the first female guild president of Victoria University, do you feel any pressure considering that people will want to know how a young woman leads such an outstanding University?

No, it’s not pressure but it does count – you are the first female president and you must leave a legacy, that sort of thing. I don’t feel pressurized.

I feel like I am representing women not only female students at Victoria University but other girls and women who may look up to me.

It is not pressure but a blessing for me as a feminist. It is important for me to see young women doing big things. I intend to use this blessing. My sleeves are rolled up.

As a guild president and student, how do you plan to balance the two demanding responsibilities?

Well, the key thing here is planning and being disciplined. I can juggle all of this if I am organized. This can only work if I plan well with my cabinet. I have a cabinet of nine people.

We need to be focused on our books because primarily we are here to study. The only way we can do that is to be ready and organized prior to anything else.

We need to organize ourselves and activities – say this is what we intend to do this semester and we hand-it in so that when the semester begins all we do is follow up so that it doesn’t eat up our study time.

Magufuli Makes EACOP Local Content Case

Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli has asked Total, the lead investor the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), to hire local contractors and employ Tanzanians during the construction of the crude export pipeline which will transport Uganda’s crude oil.

The President said Tanzania has adequate and experienced contractors, engineers and skilled labour who can work on the project. Tanzania is not new to constructing pipeline. As a gas producer, Tanzania has over the years laid several pipelines to transport gas. The President was meeting Total President for Marketing and Services Momar Nguer.

Construction of the pipeline from Hoima in western Uganda to Tanga sea port in Tanzania is expected to tee off in January. Uganda is expected to start oil production in 2020 therefore the pipeline has to be ready by then. This provides enourmous job opportunities for both Tanzanians and Ugandans.

"We are highly positive that the project will be completed before the time limit; apart from export markets, the East African region alone has a population of about 165 million people who will provide reliable market for the product.

The government of Tanzania assures maximum cooperation to Total and other partners in execution and operating the pipeline, provided you pay requisite taxes and abide by the laws of our country," President Magufuli told the delegation.

President Magufuli and his counterpart Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in NOvember commissioned the construction of the 1,445km-long East African crude oil pipe line from Hoima district in Uganda to the Tanzanian port of Tanga.

The heated crude oil pipe line, the longest of its kind in the world, will cost $3.5 billion and will be completed by 2020 making Uganda join the ranks of oil producing countries. The pipeline works will be undertaken by Total E&P, CNOOC and Tullow Oil together with the two governments of Uganda and Tanzania. The pipe line will on completion carry 216,000 barrels of crude oil for export daily.

Presidnet Museveni said because of the numerous concessions from the Tanzanian government, the cost of delivering a barrel of oil from Hoima to Tanga will be $12.2 per barrel, making Uganda’s crude oil profitable even at today’s rate of $50 per barrel.

“The pipeline is going to cost US$3.5 billion, which is a lot of money but make sure that you earn from it. If you have a hotel, those who work on the pipeline will lodge in it; if you have food in the garden, you can sell it to these workers and if you have a car for hire, you can use it,” said Museveni.

Female Guild President Takes Over At Victoria University

For the first time in its history, Victoria University Kampala will have a female guild president. Maria Peggy Nabunya, the incoming guild president was on Saturday sworn in alongside her guild government at a colorful dinner at Speke Resort Munyonyo.

Ms Nabunya, the fourth guild president at Victoria University, takes over from Peter Isiko. She is a second year student undertaking a bachelor's of science in public health at the Ruparelia Group owned University.

Rajiv Ruparelia, the promoter of the Jinja road based University congratulated Ms Nabunya upon completing a successful campaign. Rajiv hailed the ‘spirit of competitiveness’ showed by all candidates who participated in the guild campaigns competing for different posts.

Maria Peggy Nabunya swearing in as guild president of Victoria University

He encouraged the news University student leaders, and especially to those who lost in the elections, to take the challenge presented to them as a learning process and never to give up. “When you fall, stand up, keep running. Don’t ever give up,”

Ms Nabunya, who has been the vice guild president, in an interview, explained that she was compelled to go for the top student leadership job because she had ‘so many ideas that I felt the need to continue with leadership in order to see those ideas come to reality’.

“I intend to work with the entire university to see that students continue to reap the fruits of the tuition they pay in terms of career growth, engaging students in activities that encourage us to be job creators as opposed to being job seekers. I also intend to have VU engage in more inter-university activities,” she added.

Being Guild President Of Victoria University Has Been Sweet But Challenging - Peter Isiko

The history of Victoria University Kampala will barely be written without the name Peter Isiko, the University’s third guild president. The computer science student on started handed over the guild presidency to another person who name will forever re-echo in the history of the University – Maria Peggey Nabunya, the first female guild president.

In this exclusive interview Peter Isiko dwells deeper into his one year rule as the top ranking student leader of the Ruparelia Group owned University located on Jinja road in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, East Africa. Read on.

How has been your reign as guild president of Victoria University? How can you describe it?

It has been bittersweet because there have been challenges as well as accomplishments. I have had several things that I wanted and managed to do and then others that I didn’t do. But overall I will give my reign as guild president of Victoria University a 60-40 score. The 60 percent is for the achievements and the 40 percent for the challenges I faced.

Talking of challenges, what are some of these challenges?

The biggest challenge has been the response from students. When you are at Victoria University it is not the same as any other local university. The main component of the student body is not native, they are not all Ugandan.

They come from so many different cultures so their interests vary. It is hard to get them on a common ground. Obviously things like sports and clubs they try to contribute but other activities it was not so easy to get a common ground.

The other challenge was the communication gap between administration and students because of the culture issue. If you have a student from South Africa, Zimbabwe or Nigeria, the way they communicate is different from a Ugandan student, typically.

Obviously the administration can communicate something that you as a Ugandan can understand but the Nigerian may perceive it in a different way so you have to bridge the gap. Those are some of the challenges I can point out for now.

And what are some the things you have done for the University as guild president? What are your achievements?

We managed to set up a vibrate sports club where games like football, basketball and swimming are now very strong and vibrate at the university. Before there were no games the University was participating in.

We also managed to build student clubs at the university; the Rotaract Club of Victoria University was chartered. It is now a growing club with a strong a membership of 30 students.

The business club is also up and running, they are having their launch next semester, we couldn’t do it this semester but they recently had a business dinner.

I also managed to build faculty activities. For example the health science faculty, they just had their own health week. The faculty of technology had their technology boot camp under the guild council were the security mobile app was built.

Under my reign I wanted to do two things; one, to show the intellectual prowess of our student and also engage them to the outside world. These I achieved.

How has being a guild president at Victoria University impacted you at a personal level?

I have met so my people in my field, I am a computer science students, who wouldn’t otherwise listen to you twice before but now they pay close attention they say since he is a guild president let us hear what he has to say.

So at a personal level I have made connections with people who are going to help me out professionally the moment I finish university, this being my last semester.

And how has it impacted you academically?

I maintained my good grades throughout like it were but being guild president imparts more pressure on you. Instead of reading for two hours, you might find that you need to find a third extra hour to read maybe because half the time you were not in class or something like that. It gets hectic.

Would you recommend someone to join Victoria University?

Yes definitely, Victoria University is growing. It is a University that looks at high standards, a university that looks out for the best for their students so when someone joins the university they can’t leave the same way they came. They will meet very many high profile people which help their careers.

At the same time, the learning system at Victoria University is not a typical school system, its quite different. It looks out for things that will train you for the future. It is an interesting and different place to study from.

Now that you have tasted leadership as guild president, would you consider joining mainstream politics and political leaders at a national level?

After being guild president, I understand what is required of a leader but usually my principle has been that always go for leadership when there is a change you can bring to the people.

It is not about people loving you or people supporting you but sometimes it is about what change you can bring about in society or community. Right now I don’t see what I can do because my vision right now is to move in the realm of technology development and innovations.

Maybe we can wait and see what the future holds but at the moment no, I don’t see myself going into that kind of leadership.

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