Describing Aronda as a “determined” and “hardworking” military officer, Wamala said his comrade would be remembered for starting the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) saving scheme—Wazalendo.
Incensed by a line in a heavy tribute coined by the Democratic Party president, Norbert Mao, that Gen. Aronda Nyakairima was denied a chance to retire, the Chief of Defence forces, Gen. Katumba Wamala has revealed that the former minister of Internal Affairs never wanted to retire.
"There is a mistake in the tribute book that I want to clear. Norbert Mao said that Aronda was denied to retire. I want to clear that. Gen. Aronda was never denied to retire from the army. He never wanted to retire because there was still work to be done in the Ministry of Internal Affairs," Wamala said.
The army commander was responding to remarks by Mao that: "unlike Gen. Aronda, Amama Mbabazi (former Prime Minister) has never been a serving army officer. His military ranking in honorary, like Eriya Kategaya's. As we head to the 2016 elections senior army officers will continue to be denied the option to retire. Gen. Aronda could have been retired before Museveni appointed him Internal Affairs Minister."
Wamala was among several Ugandans who attended the first Gen. Aronda Nyakairima memorial lecture at Makerere University main hall. Aronda died last year, and was buried on 20 September, 2015.
Describing Aronda as a "determined" and "hardworking" military officer, Wamala said his comrade would be remembered for starting the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) saving scheme—Wazalendo.
"I feel proud that I followed him. From a humble beginning, he was able to become a General and Minister. I am also from a humble beginning. He also taught soldiers that there is life beyond the uniform, and that there is need for preparation. So, he spent sleepless nights convincing people about the need to form Wazalendo," Wamala said.
Wamala said when Aronda, who became the first Chief of Defence forces in 2003, handed him the baton, he told him that: "I leave nothing but a mountain to climb."
"But he had laid a firm foundation on a rock. If we fail to build on this rock, we shall have let down Gen. Aronda," he said.
Prof. Augustus Nuwagaba, who was the guest speaker at the memorial lecture, said Aronda was one of the most humble people he has ever met. Nuwagaba also heaped praise on Aronda for steering the professionalization of the UPDF, which has created a peaceful environment for economic growth to blossom.
"The importance of security in social economic transformation is very important. So, if there is anything good that has dramatically happened in Uganda, it is the UPDF," he said.
The Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence in the country, Brig. Charles Bakahumura said Aronda mentored many of the young officers in the rank and file of UPDF, revealing that he would speak truth to power no matter the circumstances.
"He was not a pretender or a hypocrite. He would speak his mind and truth to power. We were all mentored by Aronda. He also taught us that success without a successor is not good enough. He gave us an able leader in Gen. Katumba," he said.
Linda Aronda, the widow, described her late husband as a "hero" and "perfect gentleman" who never threw his political and military weight around people.