I won’t regret giving up UHRC job for Busia LC5 race – Njoki

Sunday November 18 2018

Still in race. Busia District LC5 by-election

Still in race. Busia District LC5 by-election candidate Deo Hasubi Njoki. FILE PHOTO 

What informed your decision to decline the appointment as member of the Uganda Human Rights Commission?
I was grateful to the appointing authority for having considered me for the appointment, but unfortunately the appointment came shortly after my nomination, and it looked suspicious.

I, therefore, declined to take the job because I did not want to damage my reputation among my people in the district and country at large. I also did not want to let down the Opposition parties that had rallied behind me in this race.
But if the appointment had come earlier, I would not have accepted to be nominated and would have given chance to another person either in the Democratic Party or any other Opposition party to contest for the position.

Why did you prefer the LC5 seat, where you could only be in office for two years before another election in 2021, to a job of seven years with a lot of privileges and benefits?
For a long time, I have had interest in serving the people of Busia District as their chairperson. I even went and studied a master’s degree in Governance and Human Rights to acquire more knowledge and skills in governance to enable me, if elected as district chairperson, to govern well and also improve service delivery in the district.

And as I speak, I’m the most qualified and competent candidate in this race. But like I have maintained, I turned down the appointment because my integrity and reputation cannot be compromised by the privileges. I am currently living a comfortable life and have not moved looking for what to eat from anybody. I am comfortable and satisfied with what I have.

Won’t you regret if you lose the election, now that you have lost the UHRC job?
I will not regret because I’m not the chairperson now, but I’m surviving. In life one should have principles. Money cannot make you lose your morals because you want to be paid a lot of money. Some people are earning very little money but are leading very comfortable lives and I’m one of them. If I lost, I will not regret because life will continue normally.

Have you officially written to the appointing authority declining the job offer?
Yes, I have done it.

Critics are saying the government was giving you a job in order for you to leave the seat for the NRM candidate. What do you say about that?
I am a qualified candidate to take up that job. Whether they had other intentions, I’m not aware. But what I can assure you is that they had given me the appointment because I’m qualified.

What did you discuss with your party leaders that made you consider remaining in the race?
I was not under pressure from my leaders to turn down the offer, but the challenge we had as a party was how the information had leaked out to the social media when I had only written to the party secretary about my appointment.
So from the time information came out, the leaders at DP and myself spent the whole evening wondering how the information had leaked out and who was behind it. This was an internal matter and leaking it out to the media was worrying to us.

Do you think people still trust you after indicating that you would prefer working at UHRC?
My support has increased after turning down the appointment, because the offer was so tempting and needed somebody who was very bold to say no to the appointing authority.
This is making me even stronger because everywhere I have gone people are happy and thanking me because they feel I am there for them and they are promising to turn up in large numbers and vote for me.

Back to elections, how are you as Opposition prepared to fight for this seat?
This by-election is not about me. It is about how the people of Busia want to be governed.
We have moved around and have seen young and old people come out, happily supporting my candidature. People in Busia have been oppressed and denied social services for a long time and they see me as a ray of hope.

When news went around that I had pulled out, people moved to my home to burn my houses and destroy my property and were even promising to hurt me and my children for letting them down. So that shows the support I have all over the district.
What I know is that I am going to win this election because for the first time I have massive support than never before.

What are the unique challenges facing local governments that you intend to address, especially in Busia District?
Local governments are at the heart of service delivery, but at times they are under funded by the central government.
In addition, they have challenges in absorbing all the finds sent by the central government due to lack of technical capacity of key stakeholders at the districts, especially political leaders who make policies. Policies translate into services.

Local governments sometimes fail to infuse the idea of human rights and development in their agenda to ensure people enjoy the services they are entitled to in terms of education, water, health services and good roads, among others.
If local governments lack capacity, then it becomes hard to realise the importance of service delivery to the people.

Challenges facing local governments.
Local governments are at the heart of service delivery, but at times they are under funded by the central government.
In addition, they have challenges in absorbing all the funds sent by the central government due to lack of technical capacity of key stakeholders at the districts, especially political leaders who make policies. Policies translate into services.”

Njoki’s take on Key issues

On promoting human rights
In 2011, I graduated with a master’s degree in Governance and Human Rights. So as a person, I have always believed in ensuring that I am part of the group that ensures that Ugandans enjoy their fundamental rights as citizens as enshrined in the Constitution. But my initiative to serve on the body started away back in 2000 when I started being committed to promoting human rights.

On appointment coming a day after nomination
I’m not sure why the appointment came shortly after the nomination, because I’m not the appointing authority. But it was unfortunate. If the appointment had come earlier before my nomination, I would not have been nominated for this position and if it came when I was already elected the district chairperson, I would have resigned to go and work with UHRC.
If I had stepped down as a candidate, it was going to be unfair to the people of Busia because many had come up to support my candidature while several other potential candidates from other Opposition parties had all stepped down for my candidature. This would amount to treachery if it emerged that I pulled out of the race.
My party DP, the FDC, UPC, JEEMA and all the other parties had all endorsed my candidature. If I did pull out, it would damage my reputation and create intrigue and treachery.

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