Our politicians from northern Uganda are at it again – calling for a break-away of the sub-region from the rest of the country.
The MPs cite a raft of reasons – ‘discrimination’, theft of funds meant for reconstruction of the region, proposed give-away of land in Amuru District for sugarcane growing and failure to effectively handle the nodding disease syndrome.
Very gallant reasons I can say, considering that I come from northern Uganda and witnessed scores of the troubles the politicians wrap up in the ‘marginalisation’ bottle.
I, however, wonder if the MPs have made any deliberate effort to let the ordinary northerner know the reasons for the break-away, if so, how will they benefit?
Other than collecting signatures for the break-away, have the politicians explained what alternative plans and strategies they have for the ‘new country’ – Nile Republic?
If indeed, northern Uganda is marginalised as the MPs and other politicians have been claiming, what have they done to include the northern agenda in national debate and policy actions?
It is true that land disputes have continued to mar resettlement and reconstruction of northern Uganda as it tries to break free of the fragments of a two-decade war. But other than telling the people that the government, through investors, wants to seize land in the north, what action have the politicians taken to plan and direct land development by the resettling communities?
Residents of Amuru last year reportedly stripped naked before officials of Madhvani Group of Companies over its plan to use more than 40,000 hectares for sugarcane growing; last month, DP leader Norbert Mao and two investors were stripped of property after they attempted to survey 7,800 hectares of land in Amuru, while several confrontations have taken place between residents verses politicians and investors.
A key underlying issue behind these confrontations is inadequate information by residents on land laws and use, as well as uncoordinated messages by leaders on the land question. So, what have the politicians done/are doing to offer a workable solution to the growing disquiet about land?
It is also true that the nodding syndrome, an ailment that killed more than 300 children and affected more than 5,000 others, slowed economic activity by parents who had to watch over their sick children; and put at stake the future of the disease survivors.
But other than castigating the government for not doing enough, gathering relief for the sick children and failing to push for an extra budget for the disease, have our MPs discussed with communities how to prepare for similar catastrophes in future?
It is a critical phase in the life of the people of northern Uganda and what they need is guided decisions on community-driven development. The lamentation over government’s failure to do A, B, C and D, will not swallow up the problems.
MPs, local leaders and all people of northern Uganda should make use of the silence of the gun and work to make their lives better. They need to realise that the government (at least this government) is not a problem-solving giant that moves from home to home, clearing hospital bills, paying school fees and placing food on plates. Each individual needs to do something first.
Our leaders would do their electorate justice if they started preaching a development message that is individual/community-driven other than seeking to score political goals whenever they open their mouths to speak.
Otherwise, telling the people that their houses are dirty but have to wait for the government to come sweep it, is sheer constricted-mindedness and empty concerns.
The best break-away that northern Uganda can have is through holding the hoe to dig and not cigarette sticks or liquor bottles; it is by taking advantage of the thriving business environment to sell produce and not just produce children because you think government will feed and school them.