Uganda: Bobi Wine Explains Queries On Age, Academic Papers

For the past few weeks, Kyadondo East MP and presidential hopeful, Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, has been trending on many social media platforms over the disparities in his age and authenticity of his academic documents.

A sizable number of people on social media have been wondering if Bobi Wine will make it to the 2021 presidential ballot paper after city lawyer, Mr Male Mabirizi, petitioned the Electoral Commission on August 21, demanding to see Bobi Wine's academic papers and seeking a caveat against his nomination.

Mr Mabirizi raised a couple of issues in his petition among which he contends that there is no way Bobi Wine who claims to be 38 years old could have finished his Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) in 1998. The UACE is the minimum requirement for one to run for president.

Logically, the average number of years that a Ugandan spends in school up to that stage, means the musician-cum-politician started his school at one year of age, which Mr Mabirizi says is impossible.

However, in an exclusive interview, Bobi Wine claimed he has always been an "extra-ordinary person" who did not study all classes like many Ugandans do.

"I should not be blamed for always being extraordinary. People who went to school know that I did not study all classes. For instance, I did Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) when I was in Primary Six and I passed to enter Senior One," Bobi Wine said yesterday.

"I want to tell Ugandans that such people exist and I did my Uganda Certificate of Education when I was 14, a year younger than what my son, Solomon would have done had it not been for the disruption brought about by Covid-19," he added. If Bobi Wine sat his UCE at 14, it means he did his PLE aged 10 after probably spending seven years in primary school which he could have started at three years.

Mr Mabirizi also indicated that National Identification Registration Authority (Nira) has documents indicating that Bobi Wine's actual date of birth is February 2, 1980 as opposed to the official February 2, 1982, date the legislator uses.

However, on Saturday morning, using his official Facebook page, Bobi Wine said the information on the Parliament website on his date of birth had been altered from 1982 to 1980 without his knowledge.

"I immediately called the IT department of Parliament and they claimed not to know who made that change. I have tasked them to explain that and will be speaking to the director soon. In the meantime, they rectified the anomaly immediately. My assurance to all of you friends is that there is no cause for alarm with regard to all my records - whether academic or otherwise. I will soon address all of you about the specifics," his post reads in part.

Parliament responds

The Parliament's communications officer, Ms Helen Kawesa, confirmed yesterday that Mr Kyagulanyi's date of birth was erroneously changed in the IT department, but added that the error would be cured.

"We regret the mistake committed on the side of the Parliament and when Hon Kyagulanyi called and raised the alarm, we changed it and apologised to him. It was not ill-intended, we only followed what was on his transcript and what had been going on within the media," Ms Kaweesa told Daily Monitor.

In his response to Mr Mabirizi's claims of contrary data from NIRA, Bobi Wine said he had sworn an affidavit to rectify the mistake in his age with the registration authority at the time of getting his National ID. He said his parents had added two years on his birth certificate to meet the requirement for sitting Primary 7, but he later went and corrected it at Nira.

"My parents added me the two years because they wanted me to fit in the classes that I had gone to. As you may know that Uneb has a minimum number of years one has to be in order to sit exams.

"That is why I was given the years, but Nira knows all these issues because I met them and indicated everything to them when I was registering for my National ID," Bobi Wine said.

"Although Uneb letter of certification of the results for UCE in the names of Kyagulanyi Ssentamu R shows that he sat exams in 1996, that of the UACE shows that he sat in March 1998, within a space of less than two years yet sitting the exams at the end of 1996, he had to wait for the results early 1997, which means he spent only one year in A-level, if he sat at all, instead of the required two years and it is not clear who of the two sat," Mr Mabirizi's states in the petition.

Ms Jenifer Kalule, the Uneb spokesperson, told Daily Monitor that the year Bobi Wine sat UACE, the Board was transitioning from holding examinations in March to November and December.

"There were two cohorts at that time, the one which sat their UCE in 1995 and another in 1996, where Hon Kyagulanyi lies. We had to bring these cohorts together and do the examinations in November and December. That means the first cohort did their examinations a little bit late and the second earlier than they should have. But there is no problem in Bobi Wine's papers," Ms Kalule said.

Section 5, Sub-section (1) (c) of the Parliamentary elections Act 2001 stipulates that one qualifies to become MP if he/she "has completed a minimum formal education of Advanced Level standard or its equivalent."

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