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Are We Moving From Fuel to Fire With The Scramble For Oil?

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In 2008, the President of Uganda visited Kiryandongo.


In my welcome speech, I told the President that NAADS and SACCOs were actually a waste of public money as the implementation was wrong and it only served the interests of selected friends and some powerful politicians.


I also expressed my reservations over the quality of UPE and why the most powerful didn’t take their children there but were busy harassing the parents not to contribute for this improvement.


The President deliberately ignored me and just glossed over the issue.


On the 28th January 2013, 6 years after, I am glad he came to light; when he accepted there was a problem with NAADS and now wants to dismiss all the NAADS coordinators and replace them with soldiers.


But again he still gets the actual problem wrong.


These coordinators are merely victims of a bad system.


For example, I had a very nice, intelligent and committed NAADS coordinator in Masindi by the time I left, but was fully sandwiched by terrible individuals in form of CAOs, RDCs and ministers from behind and above.


I know the President would still ignore me, because every problem must be discovered by him.


But he should not forget that some people have been his best friends as they give voluntary advice, yet he continues to hate them for telling him the truth.


Even when investigations proved Masindi offices were broken into to steal official documents and RDCs and CAOs were found to have a hand, nothing was done.


But when I threatened to expose them and produce documents of theft, some which I still keep back home, some were forced to resign without notice, and police did nothing.


The rest is history, but it will still haunt us.


In 2008, while at Kabalye National Police training School, I voiced out my concerns to the President of Uganda, who had come to pass police cadets, over what I still see as very serious issues in Bunyoro.


I remember telling him that while it had become normal for him to always be received by Bunyoro leadership who showered him with praise after praise, he should allow me do the contrary and because my concerns were that:


1. Bunyoro’s poor population was in danger of suffering ‘deprivation’ with the coming of the oil industry due to what seemed to be government neglect in preparing the population for the challenges that come with the petroleum industry i.e. immigration; urbanisation; loss of fishing waters; agricultural land; land grabbing; pollution; overpopulation and political marginalisation and disregard of our traditional institution; the Kingdom (not the King as such); I even wonder why our international borders appeared to be deliberately left open?


2. With the discovery of Oil and Gas in Bunyoro, he was telling the people of Bunyoro to ‘Kulembeka’ or start tapping the benefits and many of his usual puppets trumpeting the same message yet the communities were not being empowered at all preparing them.


This exposed our people to the trappings of capitalism and free market system where they would be induced to sell all their land due to poverty and lack of competitiveness as the haves would soon pour in the region.


3. I observed that it was actually a mockery to our communities to tell them to compete in a race while their legs were tied.


Without land titles and the capital to invest, or entrepreneurial skills, good schools and powerful local businesses, how could Banyoro win contracts?


It was not proper for us to mock our own people.


We needed ‘entrepreneurial governance’ and a deliberate government strategic intervention in a proactive manner; given that; the Niger Delta issue, Cabinda in Angola; Katanga in Congo, Sudan and others are a living testimony;


4. It was useless to promise Banyoro high sounding things like; University of Bunyoro; petroleum institute etc; only to be used by people from other regions because of the poor primary and secondary schools we have, especially now that they have been badly diluted by UPE and USE;


5. I wondered why the President could not allow the formation of organisations like the ‘Bunyoro think tank’ and ‘Leaders Forum’ independently constituted by ourselves to always meet him and advise him on issues affecting us, rather than RDCs and DISO handpicking friends to go to the State House and ‘Rwakitura’ (his country home) only to sing his praises and end up misleading him; I also expressed concern why RDCS, DISOs, Police and the Army where blocking all my attempts to resolve critical land issues or bring them up, and why all my efforts to cause the formation of Bunyoro leaders forum were branded unacceptable.


When the President finally stood up to speak, he was vividly annoyed with me, and to sum up everything, he said the people of Masindi were very bad voters and that they had voted for him a Chairman of ‘Rugambo’.


To me; his attitude should have been a lesson for Bunyoro region; unfortunately, instead the majority were very happy and made it a story.


However, I had made my point and I was prepared to carry the burden in case the rest didn’t follow me.


As it turned out, indeed I remained alone, yet we are still in the deep waters together.


Now as Bunyoro region positions itself to become the hub of the petroleum industry in Uganda, here I come again.


My appeal is to all those who share social networks in Bunyoro and beyond; if possible, please let us pick some more serious matters to address as we also regularly take the same to our communities in the villages.


Right now we have very serious developments taking place in our region. Fundamental policies and legislations are taking place, yet I see no such issues anywhere in our networking.


Please excuse me in case I missed them, but what I mean is that level of consistency and researched information.


This will help us to have an agenda for the region as well as voting and electing people with wisdom.


I wish to draw readers attention to a number of pertinent issues that seem to go unnoticed or are just being swept under the carpet, under the veil of ‘imaginary peace and stability’ or simply because we are party loyalists or even we fear to show that we do not know or are lazy to find out.


There is no debate now that Bunyoro has commercially viable oil resources, and this can bring a lot of boom in the region if well managed but at the same time the nexus between oil, conflict and democratic failures is also well documented in most of our sub-Saharan countries courtesy of: Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Angola and others.


Some Scholars have viewed oil as a curse, but others insisted that given examples like; Norway, Brazil and other developed countries show that, if well managed, oil resources can lead to the socio-economic transformation and sustained development, not only of Bunyoro, but the entire country.

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