Below: Pece War Memorial Stadium under rehabilitation using local effort. where is goernment input?
“What began as a war of resistance, spearheaded by Mr. Museveni against the dominations of armed forces by the Acholi ethnic group from the time when Ugandans were fighting to remove Idi Amin from power in the early 1970’s, has now graduated into alienating the region from equitable sharing of the national cake”.
“Museveni’s main agenda throughout his 31 year dictatorship seems to be that he does not want to see Acholi sub-region, which spearheaded resistance against his rule through numerous rebellious attempts by force like Uganda People’s Democratic Army (UPDA), Holy Spirit Movement (HSM) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), rise up and shine again”.
GULU-UGANDA: Animosities between leaders in Acholi, northern Uganda and the government of dictator President Yoweri Museveni is not about to end.
What began as a war of resistance, spearheaded by Mr. Museveni against the dominations of armed forces by the Acholi ethnic group from the time when Ugandans were fighting to remove Idi Amin from power in the early 1970’s, has now graduated into alienating the region from equitable sharing of the national cake.
The latest animosity is on the re-construction of Pece War Memorial Stadium in Gulu, which would make it also host International Sports events just like the Central region, but government ministers block that effort.
In 2011, the Chairman of Gulu district Local government, Mr. Ojara Martin Mapenduzi, visited the Mayor of Stoke City in the UK, with whom he signed a Memorandum of Understanding to build a multi-million dollar International Sports Stadium at the current site of Pece War Memorial Stadium in Gulu.
When the plan was finally taken to the Minister of Education, Ms. Jessica Alupo for endorsement, she declined to endorse it saying government had earmarked Pece Stadium for re-development and advised the Mayor of Stoke City not to sink his money into it. Her successor, Ms. Janet Museveni also repeated the same statement on September 10, 2016 to the frustration of many in Gulu.
Mr. Mapenduzi has now turned to the local community to raise funds to re-habilitate the stadium on self-help basis to enable it be ready in two months time which should enable the region host East African Secondary Schools sports gala. Some are contributing as little as one burnt brick.
Gulu is set to host about ten thousand visitors who will come for the event; something resented by some people in Museveni’s government.
The result of such actions by government officials are always reflected during elections, where opposition candidates usually beat candidates of the ruling clique; the National Resistance Movement-Organization (NRM-O) party.
From colonial period to the first independent government of Prime Minister Mr. Milton Obote, the Acholi dominated the army, police and prison services, and paid a very heavy price for that historical mistake when Idi Amin took over power in January 1971.
The Baganda from Central Uganda, had significant contributions to these killings because they accuse the government of Milton Obote – to whom colonial masters gave the instruments of independent – of abrogating the Independent Constitution in 1966, thereby sending their King and Ceremonial President of Uganda, Sir Edward Mutesa II, to exile from where he died.
There were mass prosecutions and killings of almost all Acholi soldiers, prison staffs, policemen and the elites in Kampala and other towns. A good number, who survived the purge, went into exile; from where they spearheaded the move to remove Idi Amin from power.
When Idi Amin was finally overthrown on April 11, 1979, the Acholis were the dominant ethnic group among the liberators. A good number among the youths, who had remained in Uganda, also joined the liberators as militias who helped pacify the country.
In West Nile sub-region however, where Idi Amin hails from and had his support base, the militias were accused of conducting revenge killings against the locals, for what Amin’s soldiers did to the people of Acholi during his eight-year rule.
Therefore, when Obote bounced back to lead Uganda again following a disputed election in 1980, Museveni, who comes from Western Uganda, joined forces with leaders from Buganda and West Nile regions by taking advantage of their anti Obote stance to launch a brutal five-year gorilla war from Luwero in Buganda region which saw many Acholi soldiers in the Obote II army, killed.
Museveni’s main agenda throughout his 31 year dictatorship, seems to be that he does not want to see Acholi sub-region, which spearheaded resistance against his rule through numerous rebellious attempts by forces like the Uganda People’s Democratic Army (UPDA), Holy Spirit Movement (HSM) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), rise up and shine again.
It is argued that whenever these rebels kill civilians for not supporting them, Museveni would always be happy with that. These rebels were actually doing what his NRA soldiers were also doing. That is why he was reluctant to end the suffering in the region.
For over two decades, from 1986 to 2006, Acholi suffered from the effects of these rebellions. People were herded into concentration camps, lost economic productivities, killed by government and rebel forces, pillage of their livelihood resources like cattle and the introduction of killer diseases like HIV, EBOLA, etc.
From the time when government and the LRA signed the cessation of hostility agreement in 2006, the relocation of LRA from northern Uganda to the aborted Juba Peace Talks, the people of Acholi has been grappling with the problems of re-constructing their lives on their own with very little support, the one hand, and fighting deliberate government projects/ programs which tend to sabotage these efforts.
There is no value for money for all the programs government initiated to reconstruct the region since Northern Uganda Rehabilitation Program (NURP) in the early nineties to now Peace Recovery and Development Program (PRDP) because of endemic corruptions in high places in government.
Even efforts by local leaders in Acholi to mobilize own resources or solicit funds from well-wishers to rebuild the region and uplift it from poverty; you find that government officials frustrate such efforts. There is endemic poverty despite numerous interventions.
Museveni’s possibly last term as president expires in 2021, unless he amends the Constitution to allow him rule for life. Does it mean that government programs meant to benefit the people of Acholi should always be frustrated by state mafias like these two ministers did with Pece Stadium re-construction?