Former Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Minister, Mr Aggrey Awori, was on Wednesday nominated for the position of Secretary for Finance for older persons for Madibira B Village, Western division in Busia Municipality.
This was as the Electoral Commission (EC) kicked off nominations for special interest groups.
Mr Awori, 80, who represented Samia Bugwe North in the Constituent Assembly (CA) and later in Parliament, was nominated by Ms Lukiya Bichikutumywe and seconded by Mr Asuman Kipayo, at an exercise overseen by Ms Flavia Ajambo, the Assistant Returning Officer for Western division.
Wants SAGE funds increased, age lowered
Speaking shortly after his nomination, Mr Awori said his candidature aims at representing the interests of older persons who he thinks need better services.
“The money the government is paying to the elderly is too low; we want more resources allocated for them and the age of the beneficiaries lowered,” Mr Awori said.
Currently, the government through the Ministry of Gender, pays each elderly person above the age of 80 years a monthly allowance of Shs25,000 under the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) Fund, but Mr Awori thinks the age should be lowered and the money increased to at least Shs100,000.
The former outspoken legislature said he has joined the elections for the older persons at Village level, but “plans to continue in the race up to Parliament.”
Once in parliament, Mr Awori said he will use his oratory skills and knowledge to sway the House to push a motion for free medical care for the elderly and ensure that their rights to land and property are respected.
Mr Awori, who was voted the best legislator in the sixth Parliament, lost to Mr Stephen Mugeni Wasike in the subsequent election.
He later crossed to the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party from his childhood Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) party, and in 2011 took a shot at the Busia Municipality seat which he also lost to Ms Kevinah Taaka Wanaha, a Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) leaning candidate.
Ms Bichikutemye, 62, said she is supporting Mr Awori because “he was the best legislator the Ugandan Parliament has had in recent times and always spoke for the common people.”
Mr Kipayo, 65, said finally the elderly are to have their own representative in Parliament and thinks Mr Awori was the right person to represent them.
Ms Ajambo said more elderly persons had returned nomination forms compared to the youth and persons with disabilities.
At Masafu Sub-county, the EC team turned away most of the aspirants after they failed to meet all the requirements.
Mr Michael Ojambo, one of the supervisors, said most aspirants had not duly filled out their forms, while others came without seconders and nominators.
“We told the aspirants to have their forms duly filled out and have a nominator and a seconder,” he said.
Veteran Monitor journalist joins fray
In Masaba Sub-county, veteran Daily Monitor journalist, David Musengeri, was nominated for the post of publicity secretary on the older persons committee for Buwulukhiro Village.
Mr Musengeri has pledged to use the ‘vast experience acquired as a journalist’ to push for the interests of the older people and the NRM party.
“I have a lot of experience, both in the media and mobilization. As an NRM cadre I will use such vast knowledge and connections to benefit my colleagues,” he said.
Mr Thomas Bwire, a youth who was nominated for the post of publicity secretary for Mbehenyi Village, said he aims at ensuring that fellow youth benefit from various government programmes.
“We have just been hearing about the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) and many other projects, but money hardly reaches the youth; I want to address that,” Mr Bwire pledged.
Mr Clinton Ogweyo, who was contesting for the position of chairperson for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) for Butacho Village, said he applied for the transfer of his particulars from Budhaya Sub-county in Bugiri district to Masaba in Busia district, but was surprised that his name was not in the register.
“I am disappointed because my electorate had declared me unopposed for that position but I can’t be nominated because I am not on the voters’ register,” Mr Ogweyo said.