The Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) Vice-Chancellor is a very humble, yet eloquent speaker, especially when he talks about Africa’s need to use intellectual wealth to shape its economy through providing sustainable solutions, using science and technology and promoting entrepreneurship. He is professorial, but not in the old fashioned way, to the point of being aloof. This is a vibrant man of ideas, who will use any given opportunity to unpack complex concept and make everything sound as simple as singing a lullaby. When he landed in Botswana, the Nigerian born, American prodigy was overjoyed. He was back to Africa; to pursue his great dream of ensuring that the continent claims its places world, as an enterprising continent that is able to use its brain-power to provide sustainable solutions to its problems to its countries and the world as a whole. He had it all mapped out and Botswana was to become the launch pad for this grand idea. This was of course befitting, after all, this is one country popular for its peace and tranquility, Africa’s shining example. Thus in short, meant the environment was conducive to roll out this plan; first here, then across Africa.
In a year, he has achieved a lot; the school has hired some of the most sought after professors from Ivy League universities. Professor Inyang, who commands a lot of respect in world of academia, has managed to get over 240 000 books worth millions of Pula, which the BIUST intends to distribute in various secondary schools in Botswana. They have also engaged young people from brigades to rebuild and renovate facilities like the old Sekgoma Hospital building, which will be used by BIUST as a campus in Serowe. There are many plans that have been put in action, some of which are already benefitting local communities, like the renting out of houses in the central district for accommodating the BIUST staff. He has even been given a Setswana name, Rapula, which means, ‘the one who brings rain’. Those who have worked closely with the man, say the man is a workaholic who spends endless hours reading and working over concepts.
Inyang has just dropped a bombshell this week, resigning his post at the BIUST, a move that has left a number of people very hurt. Some of the reasons that led to this are largely centred around the sacking of BIUST Council Chairman, Serwalo Tumelo, an astute former civil servant, who is credited with among other things, running Botswana’s stable economy for years. Tumelo is said to have fallen out of favour with some unscrupulous BIUST council members, who reportedly connived with the government, which funds the institution, to orchestrate his removal from the powerful post. Others reasons for Inyang’s resignation also include what he calls “the absence over what happened recently when some professors working for BIUST were nearly abducted. This was reported in the media, but there has been a deafening silence over this. You expect people to speak out against this, but instead people are quiet. Their silence, protecting those within the university who orchestrated this evil plot based on untruths,” he said.
He made it clear that he had no intentions to badmouth anyone, and said he will be candid because he has learnt with sadness that some people rumours and lies are being used to influence public policy. He also added that it is unfortunate that the presidency was told untruths about BIUST by power-mongers from the BIUST council, who were on a mission to take over the running of the university.
“These people at the council, who are few in number, but have powerful connections, wanted to have total control and interfere in the day to day operations of the university. Thus they wanted to usurp the roles of management. Tumelo was against this and refused to allow it to happen. Some of them connived with some staff members, encouraging them to smuggle out documents without the sanction of management. These documents were used out of context to accuse us of maladministration and all sorts of things. At one point I was said to be hiring Nigerian professors because I am Nigerian, but this was not true. I have never been involved in procurement, because I came here to focus on running the school, to ensure that it helps Botswana and the continent realise its economic potential,” he said.
Some of the respectable professors, who came to teach at BIUST are also said to have said they will follow Inyang, once he leaves the school in 2015.
Inyang has said Africa is lagging behind in development because others shoot their fellow people down due to personal interests.
Meanwhile the professor, who is expected to leave early next year, has revealed that he will go to South Africa, where he has been given the task of setting up an African university system, that will see a single university being running from Pretoria but having various campuses in countries like Namibia, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Nigeria and America. This is an idea intended to power the African Renaissance, and the project has among others, Africa’s greats, former presidents, Thabo Mbeki and Festus Mogae of Botswana, who is currently the chancellor of the BIUST. Inyang will be its president, while Mogae is expected, if he is available, to be one of the advisors. Tumelo will, meanwhile be appointed Inyang’s Vice-President responsible for resource mobilisation for the entire program.