By David Lumu and Paul Kiwuuwa
The UPDF have weighed in on the ongoing debate over whether public service jobs in crucial sectors such as agriculture should be taken over by the army.
Speaking to New Vision, UPDF spokesperson, Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda said that army cherishes four principles--discipline, transparency, openness and patriotism—which are the foundation of service delivery that the citizens are yearning for.
Likening the above principles to “a magic bullet” that has driven the UPDF up in the military echelons, Ankunda said that: “I cannot point out the failures that have led to the President’s proposal to restructure NAADS, but unlike the civilians when they are managing enterprises, we strictly abide to discipline, transparency, openness and patriotism. These are the major rules we use in managing projects.”
During the Heroes day celebrations in Mityana district, Museveni said that in his latest plan to restructure the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), he would scrap NAADs coordinators and deploy a soldier per constituency to monitor government programs, especially the four-acre model of agriculture.
“I have decided to restructure NAADs and scrap many of the jobs of NAADs officers both at the National and local level so that we actively involve the local farmers in promoting agricultural development across the country. The officials who were entrusted with NAADs money instead used it to pay themselves hefty salaries and organizing workshops through which they have been embezzling the funds at the expense of its objectives,” he said.
Museveni cited the success of the Luweero triangle projects that Gen Salim Saleh and Brigadier Proscovia Nalweyiso have been supervising as the benchmark for deploying soldiers throughout the country.
However, the move has drawn mixed reactions among Ugandans with some opposition voices like the FDC president Major General Mugisha Muntu arguing that the country might completely veer off the democratic road and plunge into a military state if this public service-military fusion is not handled well.
Muntu argues that the military might not be fully-equipped with the technical prowess to handle agricultural complexities.
But, Ankunda told New Vision that it is obvious that before embarking on a mission such as the implementation of agricultural services, schooled men and women-in-uniform in that area would be selected.
“Before embarking on managing an enterprise we shall embark on training the human resource. NAADS deals with service extension to the grassroots, and dealing with the people. This training may include human resource management, procurement rules, financial management and accounting and any other relevant training required,” he said.
Arguing that UPDF is now waiting for the guidance of Museveni on how to “create management structures for the job”, Ankunda said that Ugandans should have faith in the military because of the doctrine of “order ni moja”.
“In the Army we follow orders, order ni moja, since the commander of the armed forces has told the UPDF to take over management of the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), we follow the orders to deliver the services to the country, but we don’t ask the command why we have been ordered to take over.”
NAADS: UPDF says it’s ready to take over from civil servants