By D.I.E. Aleku
President Yoweri Museveni is said to have an imminent itinerary to the sub-region. The planned journey according to sources is to rally support for Joseph Koluo, the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) Toroma County parliamentary candidate seeking election.
Toroma County is due for parliamentary bye-election to replace the incumbent, Cyrus Amodoi who died in a night fatal motor accident in Jinja on the way to his constituency. Campaigns have already seen Dr. Col. Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) travel there for his candidate, Martin Odaka who is also facing challenge from Andrew Omiat of Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), independents; Patrick Edyangu, Constant Itiakorit, Robert Imalingat, Solomon Ossiya and John Robert Ekongot.
Museveni though, is coming to an impoverished sub-region beset by famine due to prolonged drought. Protracted public outcry is rife with inadequate government intervention that has left locals asking the whereabouts of the political will to bail them out.
“Teso sub-region that was once a food basket has lagged behind for so long with people lamenting cattle that where rustled long time ago,” said the Serere County MP, Bishop Patrick Okabe who is the chairperson of the group. “It’s time to move on and President Museveni has promised to meet Teso local leaders and elders over unfulfilled presidential pledges to the sub-region he’s not honoured.
But skepticism is that the legislators are under undue presidential pressure to collect people’s views in order to defuse public anger ahead of his visit. The assembly venue is not disclosed but the lawmakers vehemently deny duress saying theirs is an unprecedented indigenous initiative devised by themselves to collect workable answers from the very affected community.
“Kindly, let’s first put aside our political differences for the good of mother Teso,” said Veronica Isala Eragu, the Kaberamaido County MP who chaired the agriculture and food security session. “We’re here as children of Teso to hear from you and to avoid politicking it’s why we’ve brought our gallant technical sons; Dr. Gregon Olupot and Dr. John Richard Otukei all senior science lecturers at Makerere University to facilitatate.”
Incidentally, the two good doctors themselves confessed having no prior invitation knowledge to the convention as panelists except on short notice. Likewise nearly all audience present affirmed picking verbal invites from the airwaves as radio announcements calling any Etesot/Atesot wishing well Teso sub-region to attend the convention to be held in Soroti Hotel to legislators’ embarrassment.
“We’re sorry we failured to send out individual invitation cards to everyone because of the urgency of the matter,” acknowledged, Angeline Ossege, the Soroti Woman MP, who was the mistress of the ceremony. “We didn’t have any more time to waste and thankfully you’re all here.”
The admission ruffled pundits whose murmurs quickly labelled the convention ‘a usual talking shop’ even though the occasion was thronged and graced by the bigwigs of the sub-region including Maj. Gen. Peter Elwelu, the Land Forces Commander of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF). The Ugandan Ambassodor to New Delhi, Grace Akello as part of the parliamentarians captured individual views and opinion ideas gathered in group discussions.
Subsequent conventions are expected soon but cut-out clear committee or individual (s) stirring are not in place. In addition, the grassroots person said to be advocated for is not in attendance except politicians and the elite class.
The organisers seem oblivious of Uganda as a unit and that Teso sub-region is not an island to it. None deliberately or by omission is enthusiastic talk about the broken service delivery systems and non-functional institutions that are weighing heavy on the citizens.
Taxpayers are grinding with rising administrative costs due to wrong priority allocations including unnecessary creation of districts in the name of taking services nearest to the people; which services leave a lot desired. Research as basis for planning is either ignored or is dishonestly conducted for individual gains due to rampant corruption that has eaten up deep to the societal moral fibre.
Extension services are dead with politics of patronage. Agriculture is the economic backbone of Uganda employing nearly everyone in one way or the other but many especially the youths have abandoned it because over time it’s become erratic to invest in it.
Smallholders farmers and fishermen are unable to increase food production and family/ household incomes due to resource depletion or agriculture has increasingly become less attractive. Though their potential is often not brought forward sustainable Smallholder farmers are the drivers of many economies in Africa.