BY ANDREW COHEN AMVESI
ARUA. President Yoweri Museveni has warned the local leaders in the West Nile region not to play around with the Parish Development Model (PDM) cash, saying the program is not business as usual.
The President conveyed the warning through Evelyn Anite, the Minister of State for Investment and Privatization during a preparatory meeting for all the leaders in the West Nile region at Hotel Le Confidentiel in Arua district on Tuesday.
The meeting was meant to prepare the stakeholders ahead of the President’s three-day visit to the region; from April 11-13, 2023.
During the visit, President Museveni is expected to monitor development activities in the region especially, the implementation of programs geared towards poverty alleviation. He is also expected to assess the extent to which the programs to increase household income are achieving the intended goals with emphasis on PDM.
But while addressing the meeting, Anite said the President has cautioned leaders against misusing PDM funds which the Fountain of Honor referred to as being unusual business this time round.
“I’m here to give the message of the President on exactly why we are here today. His Excellency the President’s heart desire is to see people out of poverty. If you recall the manifesto of NRM that made us win, we had a very clear theme and I was privileged to be in the team the President nominated to implement his manifesto. I recall the President very clearly saying that his manifesto should be to secure your future,” Anite said.
“And this time, the theme that he has selected is indeed reflecting in the manifesto; it is under the theme; ‘wealth creation for shared prosperity to secure your future.’ So, the theme for this drive is to secure the future of Ugandans. The President says he wants you to be very interactive. Now there are people who do not like to do their job and this is the time it will be very difficult for them,” Anite said.
Anite observed that with the scenarios they saw in Acholi, it will be very difficult for such leaders since the President will know that they did not do their work.
She said the President is currently trying to do an analysis of his one and a half year or two years period in office because his vision is to secure the future of the citizens of this country by looking at the programs that he has started and one of the programs which is the center of his focus is actually the PDM.
“The President asked me to tell everyone here that he is doing his visit, he wants it to be interactive and that he will randomly pick people from the gallery. He told me how PDM is going to be implemented in the districts and I want to tell you; yesterday but one, he had to call all the people who spoke in Acholi to the State House for detailed information,” Anite said.
“The President said PDM is not business as usual! Why he instructed that we should call you is because he told us that as politicians, you must not touch the PDM money,” Anite emphasized.
She noted that the President wants to come and talk about industrialization agenda and that is why, he asked Uganda Investment Authority to come on ground and work with RDCs, DPCs, NRM chairpersons in all the districts in order to get people who are doing value addition to come and exhibit their products and see how he can support them.
Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny, the state minister for Northern Uganda who represented Jesca Alupo, the Vice President urged the people of West Nile to avoid disunity ahead of the President’s coming.
She instead asked the people of West Nile to organize themselves to appreciate what the government has done and later present the challenges facing the region in a more respectful manner.
Jackson Atima Lee Buti, the Arua Central Division MP who doubles as the NRM regional whip for West Nile region said: “my appeal to the people of West Nile is to take this opportunity, come in big numbers, listen to the President’s speech because he will be giving us all the wisdom that he has. We pick the wisdom and go back to our villages, parishes and our districts to implement what he talked about PDM so that wealth can be created, employment opportunities can be created and this economy changes.”
Meanwhile Lawrence Songa, the Ora County MP also the West Nile Parliamentary Caucus Chairperson noted that it is not the first time the President is coming to West Nile.
“In 2021, the people of West Nile, unlike in the Central region of Uganda, showed that they supported NRM and President Museveni, and that is why they voted very well. Now the President’s visit is coming basically to mobilize people on the wealth creation through PDM. Many people in West Nile are yawning to engage in money generating initiatives and some are already doing that. So, if we can remove the obstacle of energy and improve the transport system then the people of West Nile will be able to generate wealth,” Songa said.
On the fateful day, Anite also mobilized over 1,000 Local Council one and two chairpersons including councilors over the coming of the President and encouraged them to support the PDM program so as to achieve the President’s vision.