Under the deal, Machar is to return to Juba to be vice-president, a post from which he was sacked in 2013
By Moses Byaruhanga
As February 18 gets closer, all the presidential candidates are focusing on the youth.
According to the demographic data, the youth today are the majority. This is good for President Museveni and the NRM as the reasons why he went to the bush are bearing fruit in these youth.
In 1986, when NRM under the leadership of Yoweri Museveni captured power, immunisation in Uganda was only 30%, infant mortality was over 120 infants dying per 1,000 live births, access to clean safe water in the rural areas was about 15%, and education was only accessible by a few families, who could afford to pay school fees. Besides all these, there was instability in the country and peace was rare.
Revenue collection was a paltry sh5b annually. It needed someone like President Museveni who not only defeated the bad regimes and introduced democracy; to turn around the country to the level that we have these NRM born youth. What did he do?
He defeated the insurgency in northern Uganda. LRA is no more and all the other groups which were disturbing West Nile are no more. The Karimojong, who had 40,000 guns, were disarmed.
Other groups like ADF which disturbed western Uganda are no more. In West Nile, the people who had fled to Congo as a result on political instability in Uganda came back and are leading peaceful lives in their country. In the north, the camps were dismantled and the population is back in their villages.
In Karamoja, there is peace now as raids are no more. In short, there is total peace and stability in Uganda. The youth need to know that this has been possible because of a charismatic leadership of President Yoweri Museveni.
His investment in ensuring security and peace in the country is what we are reaping now in having many young people many of whom would have died in wars and when there is insecurity the ability to produce children is tampered with as people are running around.
Apart from President Museveni being credited for stabilising the country, he has ensured that the children are immunised and there is access to clean water in the rural areas and health services are brought near the people.
Today, immunisation in the country stands at 95% and the diseases immunised against have been increased from the old six to 13 including immunisation against cervical cancer for the young girls. This has resulted into a reduction in infant mortality from over 120/1,000 live births in 1986 to 44/1,000 live birth today. Maternal mortality has reduced from over 600/100,000 in 1986 to 360/100,000 today.
Access to clean safe water is now 65% in rural areas and over 70% in urban areas.
The achievements in the health demographics above are a result of President Museveni’s resolve to bring health services near the people by having a health centre III at sub county level and a health centre IV at constituency level.
We now have 930 health centre IIIs and 193 health centre IVs in the country. Those sub counties and constituencies that don’t have health centres yet will be handled in the next five years of President Museveni, if Ugandans give him the mandate through their vote.
President Museveni introduced free primary education, free secondary education, free higher education, increased the number of government sponsorships at public universities and recently introduced student bursaries. Furthermore, university education was liberalised so now access to education is greater than ever before.
This has led to the youth getting out of this education system increasing considerably from less than 10,000 university graduates annually in 1986 to about 50,000 today.
The supply of university graduates has surpassed the jobs available. Part of the problem is that there has been much emphasis on arts courses and less on science courses.
We are solving this by encouraging the teaching of sciences and the Government sponsorship at public universities to focus more on science courses. As you know President Museveni has been categorical that jobs for the youth are in the factories and the service sectors. That is why he calls upon government agencies to promote investments.
President Museveni will continue to focus on this so that more jobs for the youth are created through private investments. You can see it in hotels, factories, shopping malls, there are many youth employed there but we need more investments.
President Museveni will create more jobs through equipping industrial parks with the necessary infrastructure like roads, ICT, water, power and building warehouses in those parks to make it easy for one to set up a factory which will create jobs.
The innovation fund which President Museveni has promised to increase from sh170b to sh500b annually will help in driving investments.
Furthermore, president Museveni introduced the Youth Fund last financial year. This was to assist those youth who could engage in private business to borrow money and invest in various ventures. This is for all youth irrespective of the level of education.
Last financial year, sh54.4b was sent to the districts and 70,000 youth benefitted. However, the number of youth who are ready to do something by and for themselves is big. Some even say that they have not heard about the youth fund.
In order to address this concern of youth who want to engage in private business, President Museveni has promised to increase the youth fund from the current sh54.4b to sh234b annually so that every district can receive sh2b for youth activities. This will enable the many youth out there to engage in private businesses.
Accessing the money will not require having security because these are character loans where someone or a group is given a loan basing on the project they have and the sub county leadership monitoring the beneficiaries regularly.
There are cases of corruption in accessing the fund which have been reported at sub county level.
These will be dealt with and any other encumbrances will be addressed. The other thing to be done is retraining of youth who have no jobs at a government cost to enable them get skills which are required in the job market. Also, youth who have acquired skills on the job like mechanics will be certified and given certificates.
Others who are willing to be trained in technical skills will be trained free in technical schools.
So youth leaders out there, pass on this message to your colleagues. Some can engage in agriculture where the fund for giving inputs to farmers will be increased to a trillion from the current sh200b.
The writer is a senior Presidential Adviser on political affairs