By Professor Venansius Baryamureeba
In the USA, Secretaries of State, Ambassadors and other career professionals when they leave the main stream government positions they join Universities, private sector, House of representatives or Senate among others to pass on their knowledge and skills. Today in the USA, Hon. Aggrey Owori would be serving as a Professor of Politics after his stint in Parliament and Amb. James Mugume would be serving as a professor of diplomacy in an Ivy League University after retirement as Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But in Africa we let them retire with their knowledge and they are not given an opportunity to pass it on. I look forward to the day when justices of the supreme court will retire and serve as law professors in Ugandan Universities.
After contesting as a Presidential Candidate in 2016, I served as Chairperson of the Board of Uganda Business and Technical Examinations Board, a national assessment body that assesses candidates at certificate and diploma levels in business, technical and vocational education. I have also been serving on various boards / councils especially in Universities. So, when I announced yesterday, 17th July 2020, that I was going to run for the MP seat in Ibanda Municipality in 2021 Parliamentary Elections, I got mixed reactions. Somewhere quick to say I am degrading myself. I am amazed at how some Ugandans rate someone who offers himself / herself to serve in Parliament. But it’s all about service above self-i.e. when called to serve, we should leave our egos at the door and do what is best for the people we are expected to serve. When it comes to service, I can even serve on a nursery school board as long as I have something unique to offer. So, I choose to be different.
I know Ibanda District very well since it’s my district of birth. I was born in the current Kagongo Parish, Ibanda Municipality. In March 1991, immediately after completing S.6 until August 1995 when I left for further studies at University of Bergen in Norway to pursue an M.Sc. and PhD in Computer Science, I taught at Ibanda Secondary School Mathematics and Physics from S.2 to S.6. I concurrently worked as a teacher at Ibanda Secondary while studying at Makerere University. I would travel to Ibanda every Thursday evening and return to Kampala every Monday morning of every week. I did pass at Makerere University and was immediately recruited as Teaching Assistant in the then Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics in 1994 and at the same my students from S.2 to S.6 passed and some of them have PhDs and are lecturers at Makerere University and other Universities. So, I know how to multitask, commit and deliver. Whether you look at my record at Makerere University, I did deliver. I did start a private University, Uganda Technology and Management University (UTAMU) after leaving Makerere University, and I am happy to say that it is one of the few universities in Africa that was well prepared for Corona Virus (COVID-19) Pandemic and we would have continued normally including offering ICT enabled examinations if government had not issued a directive for universities to close even online / distance education studies. I also currently serve as Chancellor of Ibanda University, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of UTAMU and Chairperson of the Board of Directors of UTAMU Research and Innovation City among others. I have served on various councils and boards at national, regional and international levels. I am an international consultant who has done multidisciplinary consultancy at national, regional and international levels. So, I do understand the issues that are low hanging fruits in education, private sector and other sectors.
For instance, in Ibanda District, more than 80% of the teachers in primary schools and more than 50% of the teachers in secondary schools are certificate holders. When it comes to diploma holders the figures are even much lower in both primary and secondary schools. Lack of highly qualified teachers is affecting the quality of education at primary and secondary school levels in Ibanda. Ibanda should and must contribute to the cream of the human resource in this country. I am a Chancellor of Ibanda University and Chairperson of Board of Directors of Uganda Technology and Management University (UTAMU) and I know what we need to do to cost effectively upgrade teachers who are at certificate to diploma level all to degree level. In the next five years, we shall partner with universities to upgrade the certificate and diploma holders up to degree level in a cost-effective manner using block teaching method.
It is also easy to have Ibanda School of Nursing and Midwifery affiliated to a University and have facilities upgraded to teach diploma and degrees in Nursing from this school. This will also require having more nurses and doctors with degrees within Ibanda Municipality to participate in the training of nurses but at the same provide services in the hospitals and clinics hence improved health services. This can also be done cost effectively in partnership with the various stakeholders within Ibanda Municipality.
So, by focusing on having all teachers in primary and secondary schools in Ibanda having degrees will in itself improve the quality of education in Ibanda district. Education and health services benefit most of the residents and that’s why they should be addressed. And these will be addressed in the next five (5) years.
The other cross-cutting issue is economic empowerment or wealth creation. Already there are good pilots in Ibanda under youth livelihood programme and programmes targeting women. So, on top of supporting the training of teachers and nurses, we shall support organised SACCOs, organised group projects for youth, women and men. Luckily enough Ibanda Municipality already has staff that are already handling such activities and what is needed is more money. So, we can scale this up by putting in more money. The starting point is 100% of salary and other emoluments I would be entitled to as an MP including approximately UGX 300 million that is likely to be given to each MP for a car and I have taken a decision to donate 100% of the salary and other emoluments to Ibanda Municipality to support these programmes. I plan to write proposals to obtain matching grants from donors and foundations so that in 5 years we shall have invested at least UGX 30 billion on top of what the government will have invested in these critical areas / sectors. I believe that this will be a good contribution to the people of Ibanda Municipality over the next 5 years. As they east or west home best and its about time I did something fundamental for by birth place.
The above notwithstanding, I am well aware that there are four (4) major roles of a Member of Parliament, namely:
(a) Legislation -Members debate and pass laws through which the institutions of government endeavor to guide the country’s process;
(b) Budget Approval / Appropriation -Members of Parliament (analyse) and pass (approve) the national Budget every financial year;
(c) Oversight- Members monitor and bring to the attention of Ministers and the public, government misuse of funds, violations of rule of law and unlawful activities; and
(d) Representation- Members represent their constituents’ views in Parliament i.e. MPs bring to the attention of relevant Ministers different matters of national concern.
Also, MPs are required to hold consultative meetings with their constituents, update them on the activities of Parliament and government policies, and gather their views and concerns on issues, which affect their livelihood.
As a professor of computer science; researcher, expert on education governance, planning and management; entrepreneur; consultant in ICT, science and technology, education, investment, policy and strategy among others, I am more than qualified to perform the roles of an MP. So, in addition to contributing to the development of Ibanda Municipality, I shall contribute at national level to legislation, budget approval / appropriation and oversight.
I have no doubt in my mind that at this material time both Ibanda Municipality and Uganda need my services as an MP and that’s why I have accepted to offer myself as an MP for Ibanda Municipality in 2021 Parliamentary elections. For God and My Country.
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