In an effort to solve the critical issues confronting the university, following the dissolving of its Court, the newly constituted University Management Oversight Committee (UMOC), in its inaugural meeting on 13th February, 2024 set forth significant proposals for consideration.

The Committee which was constituted by the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education came after the University Court was dissolved on the advise of the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).

The UMOC is an ad-hoc committee established in the absence of a University Court, with the purpose of providing oversight and advisory functions to the University management. The UMOC shall oversee and provide guidance on matters relating to university policies, financial management, strategic planning, and major administrative decisions. The Committee shall specifically address responsibilities outlined by the interim Management Committee for the transition period.

The duration of this Committee is very important. It shall operate for a specified term of four months in the first instance. Throughout this period the UMOC shall act in accordance with the principles of fairness, transparency, and accountability, contributing to the overall governance of the University.

The members of this Committee included academics, human rights activists, conflict mediation experts, Law officers, the three Deputy Vice Chancellors of USL, the Registrar and officials of MTHE.

The Chairperson of the Committee is P.C Dr. Marget Bayo Gbannie formerly known as Dr. Daboh. She was a lecturer at FBC before being elected as paramount chief in Valunia Chiefdom.

Before taking her seat as the Chairperson, the Permanent Secretary of MTHE, Mr. Gilbert Cooper briefed everyone about the circumstances leading to the formation of the Committee and apologized on behalf of the Minister and her deputy for being absent. He said that the Committee is not the Court of the University as provided by the Universities Act 2021, but is a stop gap measure to allow the process of reconstituting a new court and managing the affairs of the University.

In her opening remarks, PC Gbannie appreciated the fact that she has been honored to preside over this very important Committee to restore peace and tranquility in managing the University. She is also a product and former staff of the University of Sierra Leone. She, therefore, urged all Committee members to be committed to the entire process of getting a new Court to provide leadership of the university without delay.

The Acting registrar, Mr. Munda J.S. Lebbie reported the critical issues confronting the operations of the Registry. He told the Committee about the implications of the vacuum in the leadership at the moment. It includes the problems of signing cheques, approving requests from campuses and other related matters. This situation has made it difficult to approve budget for 2024 financial year. Pressing ones are procuring materials for pending first semester examination and matriculation of newly admitted students. This is in addition to planning the Congregation for this year.

The DVCs were encouraged to comment on the issues. Professor Mohamed Samai emphasized on the need to be mindful of technicality, legality and professionalism in managing the current situation. Nothing that anyone might wish to challenge any decision that is not legally binding. He also referred to activities and powers that are mandated only by the Universities Act 2021 which the Committee has no such powers or mandate.

Professor Kelleh Mansaray also lamented about the delay in paying junior staff at FBC and conducting the SU elections. According to him there is no VC&P to sign cheque in order to execute these activities.

Other speakers further commented on the situations especially the financial management constraints and what could be done to address the problems. It was on that vain the submitted the following proposals:

  1. The Establishment of a New Court

The committee has suggested the constitution of a new court within the university framework, intended to streamline processes outlined in the Universities Act of 2021.

  1. Immediate Filling of Vacant Vice Chancellor & Principal Positions

Another crucial proposal presented by the committee pertains to the urgent appointment of individuals to fill vacant positions of Vice Chancellor and Principal. The prompt filling of these roles is deemed essential for ensuring the seamless execution of the university’s statutory obligations and responsibilities.

  1. Deputy Vice Chancellors Tasked with Supporting Secretariat Operations

The committee has recommended that Deputy Vice Chancellors take the lead in devising strategic measures to support the operations of the Secretariat. This interim measure is proposed to be implemented until necessary financial arrangements are made, ensuring the continuity of essential administrative functions. #SierraLeone