President Yoweri Museveni has challenged Officers and men of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) to focus their efforts on promoting patriotism, Pan-Africanism, modernization and democracy saying it will enable the prosperity of the country in particular and the African continent generally to grow.
President Museveni, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Uganda Armed Forces made the remarks while meeting Officers and men of the UPDF’s Acholi Pii 5th Infantry Division in Pader District yesterday (Monday).
He also cautioned the Army to refrain from politics of identity saying it was one of the root causes of Uganda’s political turmoil from the 1960s to the early 1980s.
Gen. Museveni said Uganda’s post-independence leaders also built their political bases on tribal and religious lines, which caused division among Ugandans and denied them an opportunity to prosper.
“When the NRA was liberating Lango from Milton Obote’s regime, we found most of the Langi people living in fear because an Acholi man by the names of Ojuku was killing them due to their tribal differences,” he recollected adding that the NRA delivered peace to Lango using a patriotic approach.
He disclosed that on reaching West Nile region, the NRA noticed that the majority of the people had fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo because UPC functionaries, on account of Idi Amin’s mistakes in Uganda, were hunting them down.
He reminded UPDF soldiers that as a national Army, their main principle is to defend the prosperity of its citizens and that of their country.
He stressed that Uganda’s prosperity will only come through the production of goods and services by every adult Ugandan either as a producer or as an employer.
“Production of goods and services in Uganda is now going up but Ugandans are consuming less which puts our prosperity under threat. Now, who will buy the surplus? That’s why we bring in the principle of Pan Africanism because we need Africans to support our prosperity and survival,” he explained.
The President identified modernization and democracy as some of the other principles of the then NRA that, he said, the UPDF has fought for.
On issues of health, President Museveni advised UPDF soldiers to refrain from reckless lifestyles, like sexual relations and alcoholism, saying they will easily expose them to various ailments.
He noted that by leading reckless lives, they risk contracting sexually transmitted diseases like the HIV/AIDS pandemic and hepatitis B.
He also urged them to maintain proper hygiene and sanitation in their different environments saying other diseases like Hepatitis A could be prevented through proper hygiene.
Maj. Gen. Dr. Ambrose Musinguzi, UPDF Chief of Medical Services, disclosed that the troops in Acholi Pii in particular and Northern Uganda as a whole, have been vaccinated against Hepatitis B as well as meningitis adding that mosquito nets have also been distributed to save the soldiers and their families from malaria.
Maj. Gen. Timothy Sabiiti Mutebile, Commander of the UPDF Engineering Brigade, revealed plans to construct housing units for the UPDF soldiers across the country saying they have prepared a force of 2,500 UPDF Engineers to handle the project.
The meeting was also attended by Chief of Defense Forces, Gen. David Muhoozi, the Commander of the 5th Infantry Division, Brig. Stephen Mugerwa as well as several senior UPDF officers.
Earlier, the President met and addressed pupils of Kilak Corner Primary School in Pader District en-route to the military barracks.
He also interacted with a group of NRM women supporters who awaited him at the aero pad.