The “seat is sweet”, one of Uganda’s former head of state is said to have confessed inferring that leaving the seat voluntarily is a tough task. No wonder this has characterized Uganda’s presidency. President Milton Obote exhibited this in his leadership both in the first and second phase. President Idi Amin Dada did the same and even conferred upon himself a life presidency. Certainly President Okello Lutwa was still enjoying the seat when the guerrillas overthrew his government. The country is experiencing the same under president Museveni Yoweri Kaguta who has been in the seat for now over 34 years with no signs of leaving soon, indeed confirming that the” seat is sweet”.
The “seat is sweet” perhaps because of the power and authority attached to the seat, perhaps because of the unlimited exposure and access to state resources, perhaps because of the detailed security for self-indicating total safety, perhaps because of the pomp and attention given to the seat holder, perhaps because of being commander in chief and perhaps because of the privileges attached to the seat.
The famers of the constitution could have been right to vest such power and authority in the leader to enhance his ability to be in charge and give guidance but unfortunately this seems to be abused. Moreover our culture and value system demands that total respect and submissiveness to the directives given. Very noticeable is that the available control measures and checks and balances to manage the excesses by the seat holder are of no consequence, as observed in the way the constitution and the legal framework is manipulated to benefit some individuals. No wonder statements like” a mere piece of paper cannot remove me from power” are commonly used by some leaders enjoying the seats.
Going by the current trends, is this sustainable? Should the one man or woman be the beginning and the end? Should this one person be the one to determine how and for how long one should live? Should all Ugandans live under his or her mercy? Should people continue to live under fear and dissatisfaction?
The bible says in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”. Does Uganda have a thief denying its people a life to the full?” Is the redeemer is yet to come? There is a saying that “God helps those who help themselves”. It is not a bible text though but the message in this statement is that “Get your acts together” But the Holy Konan puts it very well, “Indeed Allah will not change the conditions of a person until they change what is in themselves” It is time Ugandans began cultivating ways of helping themselves. No one feels pain on your behalf. No one has the solution to your distress. It is you and only you to that will do it and you need take a centre stage.
As a country, we need to go back to the drawing board and reflect on the following; reconsider reinstating the presidential term limits and institute term limits to other political positions across the board, Strengthen internal democracy in political parties with term limits as well and for development of a culture of an institution being bigger than an individual and provide for an incentivized exit package for retired presidents as I believe this will address the fear that accompanies living that high office.
John Mary Odoy
Senior citizen and Promoter of Human Rights and democracy
Mob: +256782457990; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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