President Museveni recently praised army officers for being better managers and efficient in service delivery.
In his signature militaristic tone, Museveni announced his plans to have soldiers in the various sectors, beginning with agricultural extension services under the national agricultural aisory services (Naads) programme.
Under the command of Gen Salim Saleh, the soldiers are taking the lead in food security and wealth-creation, under a programme code-named ‘Operation Wealth Creation (OWC)’. With as low as Shs 8bn, the soldiers have planted millions of seedlings and other planting materials in just two seasons as compared to Naads which swallows billions of shillings every year with little results.
After sorting the agriculture sector, Gen Museveni should then post his soldiers to other sectors such as health, education, transport and works, housing, environment, and energy. This posture is already sending tongues wagging with outcries from various quarters of “militarization of civil and public service”.
Soldiers take orders without asking questions. When she is ordered on any assignment, they hit the ground running. They don’t engage in such things as “cost-benefit analysis”, “facilitation”, “allowances”, “fuel”, “holiday packages”, “study allowances”, which characterize government officials.
Already, the soldiers have demonstrated capacity and competence in given projects. The National Information Security System, or commonly called the ID project, under Gen Aronda Nyakairima, is one such a project that won’t disappoint taxpayers. In just months that Gen Nyakairima has been minister for Internal Affairs, the ID project has moved with considerable speed.
The ID project had already swallowed billions of shillings – about Shs 300bn – wasted on a German firm which got the contact in the middle of the night in complete disregard of procurement procedures. At the end of it all, the Germans could only give us 400 defective plastic IDs! Gen Nyakairima has vowed that Ugandans ‘must’ get their IDs by 2015.
The general – still a serving army officer – has reportedly ‘spoilt’ things for the guys at immigration department who used to mint a lot of money from the issuance of passports and dubious work permits. I gather he has installed spies at each and every desk and corner, including gatekeepers, to keep an eye on individuals who had thrived on selling questionable passports.
Museveni is also turning to the army to construct the proposed dual-carriage railway system that will run from Mombasa to Kigali, through Kampala, and to South Sudan. There are also rumours that the proposed oil refinery in Hoima will be spearheaded by soldiers.
What if we had a full military general as minister of Works and Transport? I think we would be having fewer roads with potholes and the cowboy contractors would be in trouble. We would need a general who does it like ‘Gen Kagame’ in Kigali. I am told that before commissioning a road in Rwanda, President Kagame first hits hard into the road with a pickaxe (nsuluulu).
If the ‘nsuluulu’ quickly disappears into the ground, then the people in charge of that particular road, including the contractors, would be in trouble. But if it bounces off, with sparks, then Gen Kagame would say, ‘good job!’
Needless to say, with military men and women managing the health, education, and public service sectors, the country would be spared the numerous ‘ghosts’ that have been the hallmark of Uganda’s civil and public service, causing taxpayers untold loss of money.
We would need the laws to be amended to force the thieves to appear before military court marshals as opposed to the civil courts where the thieves have manipulated the criminal justice system and walked away scot-free. Of course this is on assumption that the said soldiers are themselves incorruptible and beyond reproach!
The author is the secretary in charge of external relations at the National Youth Council.
Source : The Observer