We have encouraged unequal regional distribution of resources

I read with interest the claims by Uganda Peoples Congress publicist Okello Lucima that the eastern and northern regions did not get a fair share in the students’ loan scheme awards (Daily Monitor, September 11). He must have made the statement without verifying the facts because we had 448 successful applicants from western region, 339 from eastern region, 287 from central region and 157 from northern region.

The response to Mr Lucima’s statement by Higher Education Students Financing Board Acting executive director, Mr Michael Wanyama, was apt. He said “Regions were talked about long ago, even before we were born. That is why we don’t have governors. Uganda is not demarcated according to regions but districts and constituencies.”

Uganda’s national development, in my opinion, has never been fairly shared between the four regions and we seem prepared to encourage this. The first missionary schools were built in Buganda (Namilyango, Budo, Kisubi, Gayaza, Kitovu). The region today has most of the country’s best primary and secondary schools if we go by performance in national exams. The first public university and institutions of higher learning (Makerere, Nakawa, Kyambogo, Nsamizi) were in Buganda.
Today, the region has the biggest number of private universities. All banks and other financial institutions have their headquarters in Kampala.
Buganda has the airport. Most factories and industries are in Kampala.

The country’s biggest hospitals are in Kampala. All our major religions are headquartered in Kampala. Besides, the country’s national language should be Swahili but nearly everywhere, Luganda is the language used. Most of the highly educated people from other regions of the country end up getting good paying jobs in Kampala and buildingtheir homes in Kampala. Their offspring learn Luganda and they adopt the Luganda language and culture.

The schools that used to be very good and popular in northern, eastern and even western Uganda have lost their glory because most of the good teachers prefer to find jobs in the schools within the Buganda region.

The parents in those regions keep the school fees low and can hardly afford to pay generous ‘salary top-ups’ for their teachers like is the case in schools such as Kisubi, Budo, Namagunga, Nabbingo, Kitovu and Namilyango.
Long ago, there was some talk of regions. Back then Uganda had provinces – Northern Province, Eastern Province, Buganda and Western Province. The constitution that we had by the time of independence had been tailored to fit into a federal setting whereby the national income would be equitably shared among the four regions.

If we had stuck to that constitution up to now, it is very likely that the students’ loan scheme would have been more shared by the four regions fairly.
However, in 1967 the UPC government came up with a different constitution which heaped a lot of power on the Executive. The 1995 constitution still gave too much power to the Executive.
It is no longer a question of how much goes to which region according to regions’ needs. Now the powers that be decide most things their own way but certainly in accordance to their political whims.

Buganda has consistently demanded a federal system of government –Federo — so that our national income is distributed evenly to regional governments for the development of their regions according to their needs. People like Beti Kamya, president of Uganda Federal Alliance have demanded a federal political system but she has not got enough support.
Under the federal arrangement, all Ugandans would develop their regions instead of having to relocate to the apparently more aantaged regions. They would ensure that their respective schools and universities are well equipped and their infrastructure well attended to.

Mr Ssali is a journalist. ssalimichaelj@gmail.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor