Salutations Mr. President!
I am Odaka Asuman,
Tororo—18 October 2020: Mr President, Bobi Wine was born 2 years after the commencement of the 5 year war, which ended 3 years after his birth (at least in Buganda).
Mr. President, if you had relinquished power in 1989 like you had earlier promised in 1986 when you came to power, you could most probably have left the presidency when Bobi Wine was just about 7 years old on earth.
Obviously, this means you would never have heard of anyone called Robert Kyagulanyi. I also think that some of Bobi Wine’s songs would have been in praise to your statesmanship.
Mr. Kyagulanyi whose stage name is Bobi Wine has in the recent past proved to be the most disturbing opponent, and evidently the most threatening challenger to your hold on to power. So difficult that all the political strategy against him seems to have failed, forcing your regime to resort to naked military brute; making even your earlier criticism against the atrocities during Amin and Obote’s regimes now appear like true lies.
Instead of addressing the factors that created a Bobi Wine, I see your media propagandists shabbily insulting his past, attacking his family, labelling him as an agent of the whites among other things; simplistic utterances.
Bobi Wine may not be presidential, his past could be checkered, his life stories could be the unpalatable ghetto stories you despise and his coming could have upset your plans for the country
You need to remember, however, that the creation of Bobi Wine and the radicalization of the youth are entirely blamed on you, your policies and governance styles.
If you have forgotten, let me render free service to remind you about some factors that have created this Wine that is making you drunk and is radicalising our young people.
1. Nepotism, favoritism and segregation in your government fermented this bitter Wine. Nobody wants to live in a country which is grossly nepotistic as ours is in this regime. Just look at how one tribe has dominated every “juicy” public position in our country. To win a government contract, you must be from the right tribe, their brothers, friends or in-laws. Even jobs which ideally require technical know-how are now given on technical-know-who, which explains why service delivery is in a pathetic state.
Mr. President, nobody wants to be excluded while openly favouring others. If this continues, you may do away with Bobi Wine, but a lot more bitter wines will certainly raise up and maybe in a more devastating style than the current wine.
2. Unemployment. Some policies this government has undertaken have heavily contributed to the unemployment situation amongst both the educated and the uneducated youth. It’s so humiliating, disturbing for parents to sell nearly everything to pay a child’s school fees and after the same child remains home without work because of the failures of government to plan its employment sector sufficiently. Many have lost self-esteem; resorted to antisocial habits due to frustration, and others have actually committed suicide.
Even when some of your bad strategic supporters want to insult Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi, I think it will end up a futile project for he now personifies the struggle of the unemployed, his stories are evidence of a youth who accidentally made it in life in a regime that doesn’t care about the welfare of the young people. When he speaks, he speaks directly to what everyone of his age is suffering, yet they blame your failed policies for their situation.
35 years in power, none of them can believe that you can correct this. That is why they will stand behind this wine.
3. Pervasive corruption. In one of his writings, Andrew Mwenda once said “….all governments in the world have corrupt people, but in Uganda, it’s the corrupt in government…” Mr. President, it’s very frustrating to be hungry, poor, unemployed, no services in hospitals, your children are home without hope for school fees yet every day there are news on how government official are stealing trillions of shillings.
Sprouting huge building owned by government officials whose salaries are known, news of financial scandals after another. Worse still, some of them claim closeness either to your family or your government. This has radicalised the youth against your government and not Bobi Wine.
4. Education. As rightly intended, people go to school with hopes that after school they will get jobs, live a better life and probably replace some properties of their parents which were sold during their school times.
When this cannot come true, the education, exposure and network at their disposal becomes a timing bomb. This time bomb is now boiling unfortunately your (mis) advisers think they can suppress it by force of arms, forgetting that human beings are like springs; the more you suppress, the more pressure it generates to resist.
6. Brutalities of security agencies. These ugly scenes of security agencies shooting people on running cameras, brutalities they exhibit on minimum provocation, the impunity they exhibit on peaceful citizens and open violence with which they conduct themselves will only continue to train the citizens especially the youth to detest and maybe find ways to resist your government in a worse measure.
It’s not Bobi Wine training them to hate your government, it’s greatly the behaviours, arrogance and intransigence of some of your security operatives. If this trend continues, with or without Kyagulanyi, worse is yet to be seen.
7. Overstaying in power. Everything in this world has a limit. Even the best dancer will get to a point when he will bore the viewers.
When you came in 1986, you told our parents that by 1989 you will have gone back to the barracks because you are not a politician. In 1989, you said you wanted to write for Uganda a Constitution which you did by 1995. In 1996, you said you wanted to test the new Constitution and make an orderly transfer of power.
In 2001, you said you wanted to professionalise the army; in 2006 you said you wanted to help achieve the East African Federation.
Mr President, in 2011, you said you wanted to industrialise the country. In 2016, you said you wanted to organise transition since you could never be a President after 75 years.
This is 2020, you are still on stage … without achieving any of the promises since 1986.
You now look out of fashion and almost no more to say apart from beating people to force consent.
8. Arrogance of your officials. Mr President, some of your government officials have turned arrogant, too used to power to the extent that they see other Ugandans as trash. They don’t differentiate between positive and negative criticism. This arrogance is what is making the young people radically opposed to you, not Bobi Wine.
9. Endless lies and unfulfilled promises. Mr. President, do you ever go back to all the policy papers and speeches you have made since 1986? Do you realise how many of your promises never materialise? If you have never thought of them, please list them down and take a good look at them.
10. Matters of bread and butter. All revolutions apart from the Libyan one were all sparked off by what I would categorise as matters of bread, mis-governance, land grabbing, inequality before the law, wide spread injustices and corruption.
I have heard many armed chair political pundits claim that Uganda is so heterogeneous that it cannot have a nation-wide street protest against government.
The example of what is currently happening in Nigeria is a good lesson because there is no country more ethnically and religiously divided than Nigeria, but corruption and brutalities of the police have united them and they are now two weeks on the streets.
In summery Mr President, as we go into these elections, nobody is certain about tomorrow and anyone who claims otherwise is a liar or simply blind to realities. Your security forces are very brutal even if they are filmed, instead of justice the country is waking up to daily acts of injustices; political, social and economic scandals and corruption have become the new normal in your government.
Mr President, there seems to be no plan to end the humiliating unemployment amongst the youth, nepotism, exclusive and favouritism seems to be the new order among many other things.
The way some people in security are treating Bobi Wine is making him a symbol of the struggle against the above-mentioned factors. In other words, with or without Bobi Wine, the presence of those factors will always legitimatise the youth radicalization and may soon transform into something that may sweep many of us.
For now, i request you to listen to a song titled “BIZEEMU” by Ronald Mayinja.
The writer is a political commentator from Tororo Municipality
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Disclaimer: Views/opinion expressed in this publication belongs to the author.