backgroundimage

President Museveni has Always Been for the Youth

By Moses Byaruhanga

With the recent announcement by Amama Mbabazi that he will offer himself to run as an aspirant for the NRM presidential flag bearer and later as president, some people have been saying that with the big number of youth, President Museveni will have an uphill task in getting the youth vote.
I want to assure the nation that President Museveni has been a champion of the youth throughout the struggle. First, starting himself as a youth, he recruited his fellow youth to join him to fight dictatorship in Uganda. Mbabazi was one of those youth recruited in the 1970s.
In the subsequent NRM/A bush war, Museveni continued recruitment of the youth into the guerrilla army leading to the takeover of Kampala in January 1986. He has continued working with the youth to date. Look at the cabinet.
You have many young people such as Frank Tumwebaze, Ronald Kibuule, Eveline Anite, Barbara Nekesa Oundo, Rose Najjemba, David Bahati, Henry Banyenzaki, Aidah Nantaba, Caroline Amali, Chris Baryomunsi and Earnest Kiza. Some of them at the time of their appointment were so young and up to now are in their forties; Ruth Nankabirwa, Jessica Alupo, Rukia Nakadama, Henry Oryem Okello.
At the secretariat, the team led by Justine Kasule Lumumba is comprised of young people: Richard Todwong, Dr. Kenneth Omona and Rose Namayanja.  Personally I was recruited by the President to work for him immediately after completion of my degree course at Makerere in 1991, when I was only 23 years and I have grown through the ranks. Even in the army, people like the Two Star General Muntu led the army at a very young age. So in short, the Museveni I know recognises and works with and for the young people.
On his programmes, the President has always empathised the youth through health, education and job creation. Besides, on the political side, the NRM under President Museveni introduced youth participation in politics through youth councils, representation at sub-county and district councils and Parliament. What has Museveni done for the youth in health? The first thing he did was emphasising immunisation, which in 1986 was 30% and now is over 90%.
It is this immunisation and bringing health services and access to safe clean water nearer the people that we are now talking about the youth being half the population. The evidence of improved health can be seen in the reduction in infant mortality rate from 125/1000 live births in 1986 to 54 per 1,000 live births today. In education, President Museveni spearheaded the introduction of UPE in 1997, USE in 2007 and free higher education plus now the student loan scheme.
You may say that when the youth stay alive because of the improved health services through, among others, immunisation and you educate them where are the jobs? This is a good question. What is President Museveni doing to ensure that the youth get jobs.
First and foremost, the President has been at the forefront of attracting investors in the country. Many of the investors so attracted are employing youth. Look at the communication sector. I am told that the telephone companies employ 1,500 people directly and about 50,000 indirectly through the chain like people selling airtime.
The business outsourcing at statistics house, an area spearheaded by President Museveni to create jobs for the youth is now employing 340 youth with a plan to increase it to at least 2,000 in the short term.
The President has prioritised investment in infrastructure like roads, rail, power generation and transmission. These are catalysts which will spur the economy and attract more investment. Here we are talking about white collar jobs which are a direct result of factories, service sector etc.
There are also many youth who don’t complete the education system due to various reasons and stay in the villages. What is the Museveni-led government doing for this category of youth? Currently, the NRM government is running a Youth Livelihood programme under the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Affairs.
This is a five-year sh265b youth development programme which started in 2014. So far, a total of 70,000 youth have benefitted under this programme; 6,000 of whom benefitted in skills development.
The others received funding to undertake various investments in agriculture, agro processing, services, trade, carpentry, etc. in Kampala alone, 105 projects benefitting 1,187 youth worth sh1b have been supported in one year. Remember the project is a five year one. In the whole country, sh54.4b has been disbursed to the 70,000 youth mentioned above.
The pressure the implementing ministry has is to provide more money as the youth are yearning to borrow the money and do business. So far out of the sh54.4b disbursed, sh500m has been paid back.
So, as the Government releases more money annually for four more years, the one which was lent out is also coming back to reinforce the programme.
With this urge by the youth to do their own business through this programme, what President Museveni will probably and will likely do is to increasing the funding beyond the anticipated sh265b over five years.
As revenue collection improves, we will have to increase the funding to accommodate more youth. As of now, the 70,000 youth so far covered is so small but it is a good beginning.
I, therefore, urge the youth both rural and urban to plan what they can do by themselves as the Government plans to increase their funding.
For the white collar jobs, the finance minister announced increased capitalisation of Uganda Development Bank (UDB) as a vehicle to finance development projects. It is anticipated that over the next five years, sh500b will be injected in UDB to offer long term financing at low interest rates.
The youth should welcome this. They are free to borrow but even if they don’t borrow themselves, if other Ugandans borrow this money and invest in value addition, they will provide employment to the youth. So dear youth, the Museveni-led Government is there for you and is always thinking about you.
The Resident District Commissioners should look at how many youth have benefitted in their districts and tell the others that the programme has just started. Every youth who is willing will be reached as the programme rolls out.
The country should rest assured that the NRM government has the youth in mind to make them access jobs either by themselves or to be employed by those who invest. Our job as a government is to ease the cost of doing business.  
The writer is a Senior Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs