The President of Uganda also the National Chairman of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has urged the people of Serere County to vote for politicians who are able to solve their problems.
He explained that many Ugandans are beginning not to understand the true meaning of politics and they have now resorted to politics of identity which is very dangerous to the country.
To say this, President Museveni was campaigning for the NRM flagbearer Mr. Philip Oucor ahead of Serere County By-Election on Thursday 23rd February, 2023. The President held campaigns in two venues; Ocaapa Town Council and Serere District Headquarters.
“Politics is like food, food is good but you must know what food to eat and how to eat it. Otherwise, food itself can be a problem if you don't know how to eat it. It can even choke you and kill you and I can see that in Uganda people are beginning not to understand what politics is. They miss out things; -this is my friend, this one is from my religion, tribe or from my clan. Politics is not about those things,” he said.
“Politics is about solving people's problems and solving them truthfully and sustainably and this is what NRM is about. Of course, the problems are so many, you may not solve all of them at the same time because solving them at the same time is also a problem since you will not manage.”
Gen Museveni explained that the NRM has been solving Uganda's problems for a long time even before they came to power in 1986. He said when they were still students, they started addressing the country's problems by telling students not to think about tribalism, religious sectarianism, not look down upon women, highlighting it as a reason why the National Resistance Army (NRA) was the first one to recruit women in the army.
“Why? Because that is how we believed that the country’s problems can be solved by relying on everybody according to their individual capacities,” he noted.
“Here we had to first deal with the issue to disarming the Karamojongs because if we didn't, whatever we do would not survive. And it was not easy because we had to remove 45,000 guns from the Karamojongs. The guns we removed from them were more than the guns of the army of Idi Amin and Obote combined. You can imagine those guns because Idi Amin's army was 20,000, Obote I army was 8,000. I remember the lady who is standing here Alice Alaso, when she was still in Parliament, she opposed our idea of disarming the Karamojongs and other opposition politicians like Pulkol were opposing our idea, we said without disarming, there would be no development,” President Museveni remarked.
The President also warned saboteurs of government's free Education for all program, saying that they are going to come up with a strong law to deal with them and prohibit the charging of fees in government schools.
“Ignorance is also another big problem. We gave you the method, but people don't listen to us. We said free Education is a way to abolish ignorance, we started on this in 1997 but because of not listening to us, you get resistance; the Head Teachers still bring back school charges and yet we are sending so much money here for UPE. In Teso there are 723 primary schools where we send Shs 7billion for Teso only and we said for the Children of the poor to study, remove school charges but you still find people chasing them from school,” he cautioned.
“We told these people if you think this money we are sending you is not enough, tell us we send more, but don't send children back home. But they don't understand that in order to get rid of ignorance, the only medicine is Education for all. NRM is patient we are going to continue, and we are going to bring a new law totally prohibiting charging of fees in government schools. If you want to charge money, go and build a private school. You will soon hear the war on that issue.”
He also called on the people of Serere to embrace government programs like Parish Development Model (PDM) and Emyooga to improve their livelihoods.
He further cited the fight against poverty as one of NRM’s struggle to transform people's lives through modern, commercial and calculated agriculture using a four-acre model. He advised wanainchi to take advantage of government interventions.
“It is not fair for the elite to live good life in towns and the majority in the village or Serere are living in poverty. Maama Janet has never carried water on her head or carried a child on her back. She used baby creebs,” he noted.
“That is why we say every homestead must learn to make money and do so with calculation. We have been sending money here for Entandikwa, Operation Wealth Creation, Emyooga and recently we sent the Parish Development Model money. There are 821 parishes in Teso and we are sending Shs100 million to each one of them in one year and next year the same. This money is your Parish bank we don't want you to pay back that money to government. We want you to pay back to your Parish Bank. You borrow and pay back at a small interest and then another person borrows. We are calculating that if one person borrows Shs1 million in a parish, 100 families will get money in one year. Then next year, another 100. Within four years, 400 families would have borrowed and the aim there is to chase poverty from homes. There's also Emyooga at the constituency. It's mainly for the skills of the hands like carpentry, tailoring among other skills,” he added.
President Museveni also warned Serere residents against politicians who give them peanuts in exchange for their votes, saying that these are their enemies and they do not solve their problems but instead they blindfold them.
“If a politician gives you Shs2,000 and he or she goes to Parliament for five years, how will the Shs2000 help you,” he wondered.
Commenting on the issue raised by one of the leaders that there are some concentrated NRM members and dilute ones, the Chairman of NRM pointed out that this was a false categorization. The President quoted from the Bible the laborious who reported early to the field and those who came much later in the evening and yet were all paid the same wages generating complaints from those who reported early in the morning.
He further cited St Paul who persecuted the Church but later after conversion did more work than the early disciples. The Chairman clarified that once you are a member you are equal members.
“In the Kingdom of God there is no young or old. That is the message of Christ. Jesus said that we shall know them by their fruits which is similar to that of NRM. 'Edeke' be with you.” he stated.
Regarding overfishing on Lake Kyoga, the President promised to engage elders to work with the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) to stop the vice.
President Museveni also promised to tarmac Kumi-Serere road among other roads.
“The Government cannot do all things at once, but we will do them slowly slowly,” he pledged before officially presenting the party flagbearer to the people of Serere. He requested them to support him wholeheartedly.
“Support Philip Oucor, if he doesn't perform, it’s not the end of the world, we will replace him.”
At the same campaigning event, the State Minister for Fisheries also Serere Woman MP, Hon. Hellen Adoa informed the President that before, Serere was a strong ground for the opposition but when NRM managed to uproot Forum for Democratic Change in the area, the whole Teso region settled for the ruling party.
“Serere is now full of NRM, we are now taking charge of this district. Let us support NRM, lets us not give our votes to the opposition. For you to vote the opposition means you are again replanting the garden we had already cleaned. Don't accept the opposition to deceive you,” Hon. Adoa said.
The NRM Director In-charge of Mobilization, Cadre identification, Recruitment and Placement, Ms. Rosemary Nansubuga Sseninde, thanked the President for the great job he has done in transforming Uganda.
“I pray to God to continue giving you wisdom and good health. Your Excellency, thank you for the support you have extended towards this by- election. This campaign has not been an easy one, but we want to thank God, Your Excellency we have done it the fighter way, that is the strategy we have applied to ensure that NRM is recognized and people appreciate that NRM is bigger than all of us. I also want to thank the people of Serere for standing with their flagbearer. We are optimistic that God will not let us down, we shall win this election,” she said.
On the other hand, the NRM Chairperson- Serere, Mr. Michael Olobo thanked the people in the district for loving and voting for President Museveni in every general election.
“Your Excellency, we want to appreciate you for the NRM Manifesto which is very rich and takes into account Teso issues. Thank you for that Manifesto and the people of Serere are very happy and passionate about that manifesto.”
The Serere District LCV Chairperson also a member of FDC, Mr. Steven Ochora assured President Museveni that he will work with NRM for the good of the people of Serere.
“Development has no boundaries that is why I'm willing to work with the ruling party. I also take this opportunity to thank the President for giving Serere, a district status, this has enabled government to bring services closer to our people,” Mr. Ochora said.
He however requested the President to upgrade Serere's only Health Centre IV to a hospital because it serves the whole district. He also brought it to the attention of the President that the Education and Health sectors in the area need to be given priority.
Meanwhile, over 300 opposition supporters mainly from FDC and National Unity Platform (NUP) crossed to NRM during the event.
The Serere County Parliamentary seat fell vacant following the sudden tragic death of MP Bishop Patrick Okabe who perished in a motor accident on the 19th December 2022 along Mbale Tirinyi Road.