By Mohammed Taha
Recently, it has been reported in the mass media that the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) will be disbanded and in its place the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) or Veterans will come on board to offer agricultural advisory and extension services.
His Excellency the President with due respect, has severally made it clear that his transformational efforts are being frustrated by non-performing, corrupt civilian civil servants, whose vices he cannot tame in the prevailing situation.
So this new development is justified on the basis of a frustrating lot, hence military intervention is based on its previous better performance; they come in as true harbingers of hope to a frustrated Nation!
Apparently, Uganda as a country is full of corruption scandals not only under NAADS but in other Public and Private arenas namely Education, Health, the pension sector, the Police Force, to mention but a few.
One may argue that it’s possible to replace all civilian officials by simply recruitment, training and deployment of soldiers in such offices or operational areas, after all the civil service numbers do not exceed 500,000!
The army and Veterans may, therefore, be readily available in numbers to cover-up these chronically corrupt areas, leave alone questionable technical incapability that embody office holding requirements in these institutions.
In this regard, an assessment has to be made on pertinent issues if the military concept is to be holistically adopted.
A lot of questions therefore, deserve to be answered for instance What will be the role of other local Government production units or agricultural extension workers who have been earlier rendered redundant, due to duplication of roles by semi-autonomous self-accounting bodies like NAADS?
In this particular model or concept, involving the army in productive roles is internationally acceptable but mainly relevant where the country suffers shortage of man power of lawlessness.
In Uganda today, despite of the UPDF’s legal mandate to participate in productive ventures, all efforts must be made to always include the entire civilian population in such ventures and the questions presented above require strategic response.
To my observation NAADS-cum-UPDF Agro-extension service workers, requires soliciting for popular support whereby people can understand it as a service rather an effort to reward veterans and men in uniform, for absolute loyalty.
The mere reward of senior officers and men to engage into farming activities may create suspicion due to alienation of civilians hence a fertile cause for future instability.
Finally, to me it would be very important now for the Government of Uganda to compel an active functionality of the judicial system, the Inspectorate of Government and other authorities in as far as prosecuting scandal ridden officials is concerned.
The office of the Auditor General seems to have done a great job in unearthing abuse of office and corruption scandals which gives a chance for other departments in the Justice Law and Order Sector to act.
We should not forget that getting the best performers is not limited to the engagement of UPDF, they are not from mars, and so getting the right workers can be likened to digging for gold; you keep on digging deep and throwing a way stones, soil etcetera until you get the precious metal.
The writer is a businessman and commercial farmer based in Kampala