By Ronaldo Kalangi
Kampala, Uganda: The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, has advised Ugandans to celebrate the peace in the country, which has played a big role in the transformation of Uganda.
Oulanyah revealed this on Tuesday while officiating over the National launch of the 38th Tarehe Sita Anniversary Celebrations (Defence Forces Week) at the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs Headquarters at Mbuya hill in Kampala.
The 2019 Defence Forces Week which is to be held in the districts of Agago, Amuru, Gulu, Kitgum, Lamwo, Nwoya, Omoro and Pader, will be celebrated under the theme: ‘UPDF and the People. Consolidating Peace for Sustainable Development and Prosperity.’ The annual and rotational Defence Forces Week aims at recognizing the birth of NRA/UPDF, which fought to transform the history of this country so that democracy, peace, security and socio-economic transformation could be restored. The week is also celebrated to thank the people for their role in sustaining peace in the country. In his speech, Hon. Oulanyah called upon Ugandans to help in shaping the direction of their country by avoiding divisions based on territory, tribe, religion, sex or geographical location. “Let no mountains, rivers, lakes, or any other thing divide us because we are all united in blood. Divisions should not fault the foundations of our friendship since we know where we came from, where we are and where we ought to be,” he noted. He advised Ugandans to use the past in shaping the future by emulating Professor Johns Hopkins’ quote which says that ‘A nation cannot be a nation without its past, and the past should not be used for dividing the people but rather for developing the people.’ Oulanyah also noted that a nation which keeps one eye in the past and the other in the future survives, as opposed to one that perishes by keeping both eyes in the past.
“Use the past as an instrument to build the nation and not to divide people; and remember that the many things we have achieved are worth celebrating,” observed Hon Oulanyah. He added that the existing peace in the country has facilitated the movement from bullets to ballots, from human wrongs to human rights, from a rag-tag army to a professional army, those formerly in exile are now in the Diaspora as they increase our GDP and many infrastructural developments have taken root. The Deputy Speaker warned that war cannot chase war and only peace can chase war; and emphasized that the role played by UPDF when they act beyond their call of duty (retrieving those affected by landslides in Bududa, treating Ebola victims and involvement in construction of infrastructure, among others) should not be neglected. He, however, implored UPDF to celebrate this transformation while keeping an eye on other challenges like youth unemployment, urban crime, corruption and poverty. “As a Peoples’ Force, there is nothing wrong in Uganda that cannot be changed by the people. Together, our dream is to sustain the peace that has been ushered in by the UPDF. If this dream is shared by all, then it will become reality and the process of transformation will be sustained,” said Hon Oulanyah. Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs Hon. Adolf Mwesige noted that the strategic guidance by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has enabled UPDF to consolidate peace and security which has facilitated the transformation of Uganda. “As a pro-people Force, our strategic partnership with the civilians has made a huge contribution on the international globe, evidenced by UPDF component in AMISOM and East African Standby Force (EASF),” Mwesige noted. He further commended the many other stakeholders who have enabled the success of various civil-military activities in Acholi sub-region.
The Chief of Defence Forces Gen. David Muhoozi emphasized that UPDF trades in providing a critical public good which is peace; which must be translated into sustainable development and prosperity. Gen. Muhoozi added that the historic role of UPDF in transforming Uganda cannot be over-emphasized without highlighting the contributions of the people throughout the protracted struggle. “The support rendered to UPDF by the Acholi community in its bid to consolidate peace and security in Uganda explains the existence of our civil-military activities in Acholi sub-region,” said Gen Muhoozi. The UPDF Chief Political Commissar (CPC) Brig. Henry Masiko mentioned that the 38th Tarehe Sita Anniversary celebrations in Acholi sub-region marks the beginning of a new era and birth of an ideologically upright peoples’ army that forms the vanguard of the transformation in Uganda today. He added that the civil-military activities that will be performed by both UPDF troops and civilians are a symbolic gesture stipulating the role played by the people in pacifying Uganda. “I thank the people of Acholi for their enduring support and choosing the side of peace,” Brig. Masiko noted. District leaders commended UPDF for choosing Kitgum as a host district and appreciated the peace in the area which has enabled socio-economic transformation of most communities. Throughout the Defence Forces Week (1-6 February 2019), UPDF medical personnel will be involved in both static and mobile activities to civilians in dental and eye services, voluntary HIV/AIDS Counseling and Testing, Safe Male Circumcision, film shows and fumigation in some selected areas within the sub –region. The UPDF Engineers will also perform minor construction and rehabilitation works on a few selected schools, Out-Patient Departments, Anti Retro-Viral Therapy clinics, among others.
The National Launch of the 38th Tarehe Sita Anniversary was also graced by the Minister of Disaster preparedness and Refugees Hon. Hillary Onek, the minister of State for Works and Transport Hon. Gen Katumba Wamala, Minister of State for Defence in Charge of Veteran Affairs Hon. Dr. Bright Rwamirama, Members of Defence and Internal Affairs Committee in Parliament, EALA members of Parliament, Ministry of Defence Undersecretary of Finance and Administration Mrs. Edith Buturo, among others.