NAKASEKE-President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has affirmed that the government is going to set up a consolidated package of wealth creation and poverty alleviation for the people of Karamoja.
“Go back and have more discussions and then come and we conclude later with some of the leaders so that we can have a consolidated package of wealth creation and poverty alleviation for Karamoja. I don’t want Karamoja to remain a vulnerable area, suffering from hunger or what. It is not correct,” President Museveni said.
The President who is also the Commander In Chief of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) made the remarks today while delivering a lecture of opportunity to leaders from the Karamoja Sub-region at Oliver Reginald Tambo School of Leadership and Pan-African Centre of Excellence -Kaweweta, Nakaseke District.
The President noted that Karamoja as a sub-region needs special attention because the area has multiple problems.
“Karamoja lacks food, we must defeat hunger, and we have agreed with the leaders that we are going to bring tractors in that area and make sure that you grow enough food collectively but also help them do it individually,” President Museveni emphasised.
“Water is also another problem, but we are going to set up more dams to trap more water. After dealing with food and water, I want something households can get money from quickly so that it becomes our strategy,” he added.
The President also urged the people of Karamoja to be patriotic in order to create space for prosperity.
The President said when the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government came into power in 1986, it presented the 10-point program which was later summarised into four (4) principles that include Patriotism, Pan-Africanism, Socio-economic Transformation and Democracy, which were aimed at solving the problems of Ugandans.
“When we came from the bush, we presented them to you people, we are not here to waste your time, we are here to show you what to do. Later alone, we thought they could be summarised into four principles and that is why we said principle number one is patriotism, love Uganda because Uganda is more useful to you than our tribal groups,” President Museveni said.
Gen. Museveni advised the leaders to desist from politics of identity that emphasises tribes and religions but instead advocate for patriotism, citing it as key in helping their people move out of poverty.
“So, Patriotism became principle number one. Why? Because you need it, you need it for your prosperity. We don’t want to be part of a poor country, so the question is how can people be prosperous? In order to create space for prosperity, we must emphasise Uganda – Patriotism,” he said.
“If for instance you take one of the groups who are living here like the Banyankore, how can you get them out of poverty and become prosperous? The way they can do it is to produce milk, beef and sell them. The ones in Ankole also produce bananas but the problem they have is that this Munyankore has milk, and the neighbour also has milk. So, the neighbour cannot buy from him, and he also cannot buy from the other because they produce similar products and who are the people who buy the milk of the Banyankore? It is the people of Kampala,” he added.
The President further explained that once the people of Karamoja move away from chaos such as cattle rustling, settle down and start selling beef in an organised way, they will find that more of their cows are being bought by the people of Kampala than the locals in their area.
“That is why we said that you people, you are talking about tribes and religion but actually the one that can help you get out of problems is Uganda. Uganda will help you better than if you simply concentrate on your tribes and you can analyse area by area. If you look at the Baganda, where does the prosperity of the Baganda come from? All of you, Ugandans, when you come to Kampala you buy from the shops of Baganda, that is how they get money.”
President Museveni also stressed that once people become serious and start producing wealth, they will realise that even the Ugandan market is not enough and that they need the East African and the African market.
“When the Banyankore woke up, and started producing milk, the milk production jumped from 200 million litres a year to now 5.4 billion litres a year. That is what Uganda is producing now. Now within Uganda, we are drinking only 800 million litres a year so there’s a surplus of 4 billion litres of milk, so the question is where do you sell this remaining milk? And what is true on milk is also true on maize and other products,” President Museveni stated.
“That is why the NRM had long ago told you that after loving Uganda, you need to love East Africa , you need to love Africa. Why? Because you need them for your prosperity. If you wake up you find that the internal market of Uganda is not enough, you need the African market so that is why we told you that our second principle is Pan-Africanism. We are not here looking at politics to get jobs, no! We are here to show you a way forward on how you can get out of your problems,” he added.
President Museveni also advised the leaders of Karamoja to spread the gospel of wealth creation to their people so that they are able to improve their livelihoods.
“NRM is a medical organisation where we say what is your sickness, we look at you and we say you are suffering from this. Your disease is poverty, and you are suffering from it because you are working only for the stomach. If you want to live a good life, you must be able to solve the problem of the stomach and non-stomach needs.”
The President also urged the leaders to help their people transform socially and economically.
“You cannot take advantage of the Ugandan market or African market if you are still in the traditional way. And what are the channels of transformation? There are two channels; education and that is why we introduced UPE long ago but your people have been resisting it and the second channel even if you are not educated and you go out from working only for the stomach and you work for the stomach and pocket, you will still change and become a new person,” he said.
“There are four sectors where you go and become transformed socially and economically. These are commercial agriculture, industries/factories, services and ICT. The fourth principle is Democracy, but I think that one is clear now.”
The Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs, Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja said the ideological orientation course which commenced on 25th September 2023 has been running for three weeks with an aim of building community resilience and also empowering the local leadership in the Karamoja region to play a more productive role in fostering community peace and development.
“This program was not only tailored to enhance your ideological outlook but also to reinforce your individual and group tool set to help you to mobilise our people whom you are leading in being part and parcel of the historical mission of transforming our motherland into a prosperous nation,” Hon. Ssempijja said.
The Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen. Wilson Mbasu Mbadi also noted that transformational leadership training for the Karamoja leaders was initiated on the request of the 3rd Division Commander Maj Gen. Don William as one of the operation strategies of pacifying Karamoja.
“In our discussions on the operation strategy of pacifying Karamoja, one of the areas we indicated was focused on civil military cooperation because we thought that military operations will not go far unless we were doing it with the leadership out there especially when we started getting some of them in these criminal acts of stealing cows or even rustling,” Gen. Mbadi said.
“We decided that we needed to engage them in a more serious manner, not in a manner we used to meet in Moroto, shout and point fingers at each other and then it ended there without any solution thereafter.”
Gen. Mbadi on the other hand expounded that in their research they found out that the Karamoja situation is just part of the wider socio-economic political and historical colonial distortions that characterised Africa and were intended to exploit the colonised people hence leading to under development.
“It is this colonial marginalisation which contributed to the current challenges that our government is solving in Karamoja and no wonder with your foresightedness, this Karamoja issue was point number 8 in the original 10 point program which highlights the need to end errors of the past.”
The UPDF Chief Political Commissar, Maj Gen. Henry Matsiko said as the Commissariat and Chieftaincy of Civil Military Cooperation, they are tasked to handle the ideological cell of “Usalama Kwa wote”, therefore the idea of training regional leaders among them the youth leaders from Karamoja is a big step towards strengthening this cell’s activities.
The Commissioner- Patriotism in the Office of the President, Ms. Hellen Seku informed the President that after undergoing the training, the leaders promised to go back and become change agents in their communities.
“The time these youth and leaders have been here have gained a lot of knowledge ideologically, socially, economically and they are not going to go back the same. They also toured around farms of which they have gained knowledge and promised to go back and be model farmers back in their region,” Ms. Seku said.
The Commandant of Oliver Tambo School of Leadership, Col. Justus Rukundo said the course was attended by 239 participants, 48 of whom are females.
“These are mainly political leaders from all the districts of Karamoja including the youth. They were selected from the district local council, youth leaders, sub county local council leaders as well as district councillors,” he said.
“The leaders have been undergoing this transformational leadership course for the last three weeks. This course is the first intake, and it is aimed at mindset change among participants in order to become change agents for socio-economic transformation of Uganda.”
On behalf of the trainees, Karenga District LCV Chairperson, Mr. Felix Mark Lochaale told President Museveni that the course has greatly enhanced their understanding of ideological related issues.
“We wish to affirm that we came to Oliver Tambo when we are ideologically sick, disoriented and now we are ideologically sound, filled with knowledge from this school.”
Mr. Lochaale also noted that as leaders during the training, they came up with measures to pacify the sub-region by opening avenues for transformation and development.
“As leaders we shall take a lead in mobilisation of the masses for peace and security in the region for development.”
The event was also attended by the Minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Hon. Esther Anyakun, Members of Parliament, UPDF leadership, Nakaseke District leaders, among others.