While on a visit to Kabale in 2015, President Museveni met one of his youngest fans, Akanyijuka Boris at Kabale Refferal Hospital. Akanyijuka kept singing ‘Museveni, Museveni’ interrupting the President several times. The boy was invited for a handshake. While he made a dash for it, he opted to tightly hug the President’s leg instead in a show of much love. Akanyijuka was politely relocated to a guest seat, and was later seen off with a gift.
The President’s gesture can only be compared to the down-to-earth character our Lord Jesus Christ showed when he called two brother fishermen, Simon Peter and Andrew, who were casting a net to catch fish in the Sea of Galilee. As he commenced his preaching ministry, Jesus called them to follow him and told them that in doing so, they were to become “fishers of men”. This calling of the first Apostles, which eventually became a group of twelve disciples, made the two fishermen early followers of Jesus.
President Museveni, just like Jesus Christ, has in the past called out people he would like to work with, and continues to call out many others every day in effectively delivering services to Ugandans, as he promised them in the manifesto of the NRM, a party he heads as National Chairman.
While some of his disciples haven’t lived up to this task and have been boastful to low-level Ugandans like Akanyijuka, Hajjat Uzeiye Hadijah Namyalo, the Head of the Office of the NRM National Chairman (ONC), and National Coordinator – Bazzukulu Ba Museveni, fits in the description of the fishermen, a biblical metaphor the President once borrowed in June 2021, at the budget reading ceremony at Kololo Independence Grounds.
With my many years’ experience as a grassroot NRM mobiliser in my Ttakajjunge village, and the entire Mukono district, I’ve witnessed Hajjat Namyalo’s character of truly being closer to the people, and most especially being honest, respectful, approachable and reachable when they need her. This is a character the Wanainchi (people) love to associate with, and there is nothing that attracts support from them as that, not even money as many people think!
These virtues I must say are very rare among some cadres of her status not only in the ruling party NRM but also the Opposition. The NRM party to which I subscribe has had senior cadres who go to villages to deliver the President’s message, or sometimes to look for their own support, and instead braggingly flash their titles in the peoples’ faces from whom they expect votes, and many times speak with excessive pride to them, before speeding off in their big 4×4 vehicles leaving villagers in smokes of dust. In order to truly engage at the grassroots level, you have to stay connected to, and have a presence among, the people you serve.
A presence doesn’t mean a carefully orchestrated public event with the press invited, rather, it means leaving your honourable titles aside, and interacting with the people you serve where they’re comfortable. It’s always important to listen carefully to what people have to say and not to be dismissive. This is the case with Hajjat Namyalo, who pays attention to every person, picks everyone’s call, and if busy, returns missed calls.
Whether it’s in business, politics or any other field, the result of losing touch with the man (or woman) in the village usually leads to blind spots in the decision-making process, with leaders often caught off guard by the consequences of, as well as the reactions to, the decisions they make. In our case as ONC coordinators, it’s the people at the grassroots that will show you which health officials steal drugs from the government health centers or which Headmaster over charges fees for pupils in a government Universal Primary Education primary school. This self satisfaction attitude by some government and party officials often has direct repercussions on the voting pattern of the President and the party, who are in this case are innocent.
In surveying life’s subtle landscape for many years now, it’s become clear to me that real, substantive change for the better generally comes from the grassroots up and not from the top down. At the same time, I have also observed a tendency in some leaders to become insular by surrounding themselves with people who tell them what they want to hear as opposed to what they need to hear. Hajjat Namyalo, is opened- minded, and willing to listen to anything for as long as it adds value to the NRM National Chairman, her party, and her country.
The National Coordinator – Bazzukulu Ba Museveni is a successful farmer, who inspires young people every day to mint money from farming. She’s emotionally intelligent, patient and calm under pressure, and she sees no point in overreacting or allowing her emotions to dictate her words or actions.
The ability to remain calm is undoubtedly one of the most notable traits of leaders with solid character. To become great leaders ourselves, we must train ourselves to hold and express this same type of self-possession.
In the Changemaker, published by ForbesBooks, Australian author and former Mayor of Augusta, Deke Copenhaver explains that there is a need for more leaders who are not afraid to do something different in the service of a good cause, just like Hajjat Namyalo is doing at ONC.
“Changemakers are not perfect; they’re not saints,” Copenhaver writes. “They’re just people like you and me who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.”
Hajjat Namyalo’s character alone is a strong mobilization tool for the NRM, and with her, the President and the NRM will score highly in the next national elections.
The writer is a team member of the Office of the National Chairman (ONC) Greater Mukono, and is the NRM Youth Chairman, Mukono District
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