By Emmanuel Mwaka Lutukumoi
Once the bread basket of Uganda, Acholi region remains a caricature and a basket case. Let the government engage Acholi leaders for development.
The moral question is, why has government received a horses thank you from Acholi? “Kana gweyo mani ka ikonyo” when you help un-tire a trapped horse, it thanks you by a kick at your lower body!
Recently Gulu people took to streets for power shortage, a forth night ago the district went against the directives of Minister of trade halting its ban on Alcohol. Acholi region has suffered the war, lost more 300,000 herds of cattle, and thousands other livestock during the war.
More than 1.8 million alone lived in Internally Displaced Person’s Camp (IDP). The two decades’ war devastated the region and destroyed its socio-economic, cultural and political base. Wont they be excluded from vision 2040?
Juxtaposing development in Lango verses Acholi region now, the two region were the epicenter of the war, and opposition power house. The two had to redesign their political agendas in the post war. It all downed on leadership.
The Lango leaders, that hated the NRM government with passion, to the extent of its own son President Obote dyeing in exile in Zambia, changed its tact and strategies. They engaged government and set up development agenda through partnership.
Lira now has 44 factories with over 11 refineries. Mukwano industries of over 100$ Million dollars’ investment and Mt Meru of over 20-30$ million dollars’ investments employs thousands and provided great employment opportunity reducing crime in the Northern districts. Lira has now surpassed 1 billion mark in paying power tariffs to UMEME monthly.
Lira contributes over 6.5 Billion shillings to URA annually. The region is economically active that the streets sleeps not with different forms of business activities. Government is now left with one agenda, to empower the poor local Langi entrepreneurs who are now at the mercy of foreign rich entrepreneurs through incentives or tax holidays.
Government has invested commendably in Lira. The construction of Akii Bua International Stadium is on course (275 Billion shillings about $30 Million), government is completing a 50 Billion shillings’ investment of Olweny Rice Scheme; that will support over 3000 farmers, Government invested 28 Billion shillings on Lira Main market of 4000 traders, government invested 20 Billion shillings on USMID Roads, government completed 10-billion-shilling construction at Lira Technical College-UTC, government invested over 5 billion shillings in setting St Katherine and Dr. Obote college center of excellence.
Government invested several billions to open up feeder roads, and bridges.
Whereas Lango leaders opted for partnership and engaging government, others have not yet engaged government. The Acholi for example feels the government has given them a raw deal.
Todate from Independence, they have no electricity built on national grid that can facilitate running heavy industries. Many who ventured in to borrowing money to start up industries failed miserably. Entrepreneurs like Okeny Vitafoam, Gulufoam, Oloya Tourists to mention but a few failed.
Christine Oryema Lalobo an entrepreneur, putting up a commercial farm in Abwoc Gulu, has failed to pump water due to lack of powerful grid and suspicious power inefficiency. To date, the Acholi people are asking, why should government not give us what we demand, we lost cattle, more than 300.000, we lost 2 decades, we have no electricity, why can’t government compensate us? These and other questions makes the Acholi region seen to be opposed.
Let Government engage the people now and leaders mobilize them for development. Look at commercial farming in Nwoya by the rich, what if all is engaged in planting specific crops for commercial purposes?
Government has invested over 15 billion shillings to build up Unyama Technical school. All sub counties have health center 3 built by government and beautiful schools under PRDP. Government has transformed Gulu road infrastructure. Recently a 16 Billion road work of 3.1 Km was handed over to the District by USMID under Local government.
But electricity remains a challenge. Recently the entrepreneurs and people of Gulu took to streets on the power issue. Imagine with all these investments in Gulu, there was a power grid, where will Gulu be? Currently Gulu looks beautiful but like water hyacinth, beautiful from surface but rootless.
Unless government start engaging leaders and the people in commercial production, government will remain the people’s enemy and the people will continue being a play thing.
But they say “We are also a people” If government open up to Acholi, the story will change and narrative soon will be different…
Writer is the deputy RDC Kitgum