President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has this week set camp in the Acholi sub-region, boots on the ground, with a clarion call to the people of the region to forget about sleeping (Nino in Acholi) but wake up to respond to his wealth creation gospel if the area is to jump out among the top poorest in Uganda.
According to the Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index 2022 report, the Acholi sub-region has the second highest number of poor people in the country with 63.3 per cent of its people living below the poverty line.
President Museveni however expressed optimism in the new force of youth that has been skilled under his initiative of the zonal industrial hubs across the country whom he said will be supported financially to create wealth and fight poverty.
Commissioning the Acholi Zonal Industrial Hub, located in Oding Parish, Unyama sub-county, Gulu city on Thursday 23rd February 2023, the President directed the State House Comptroller, Ms Jane Barekye to strictly record down details of the youths who graduate from the Industrial Hubs to ensure that they are followed up in their respective districts so that government can support them with start-up capital.
The State House Zonal Industrial Hubs were initiated by President Museveni to minimize high unemployment levels among the youths by equipping them with various hands-on skills. The initiative which has 22 hubs spread across the country, is supervised by Eng. Raymond Kamugisha, the Director of Presidential Projects and Industrial hubs.
“Because I want you to be a new force of people who don’t buy things from outside. By making the chairs, shoes, and clothes from here, you will not only help us to stop importing things like furniture from China, India, and Dubai but also provide employment to colleagues that have been skilled,” H.E Museveni said.
“Everybody who graduates from here should be recorded and then followed up in their districts so that we see how to support them with capital. But my advice is that some of the businesses are better done if you form groups like carpentry and processing small factories. Form associations district by district and we support you in groups because supporting you one by one may be difficult,” H.E Museveni said, adding that those with tailoring skills can each be provided with a sewing machine from the government.
The Acholi Industrial hub offers certificates from the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT) after five (5) months of free training in hairdressing, carpentry and joinery, welding, and metal fabrication as well as tailoring.
A total of 212 graduates last month formed the first cohort of 22 youths each selected from the districts of Omoro, Nwoya, Amuru, Gulu, Agago, Pader, Agago, Lamwo, Kitgum, and Gulu city.
According to the President, the initiative fits well in the four (4) sectors of wealth creation that he has been preaching about since 1986 which include; commercial agriculture, industry/manufacturing, services, and ICT.
“And this is where your skills come in. when I built these centers for children, I wanted you to get skills and go back to start your own small factory or do it as a group or be employed to work in somebody’s factory,” Gen Museveni said, giving an example of a group of youth who came together and started a carpentry business.
Gen Museveni told parents and students at the skilling hub to stop confusing development and wealth creation, saying the latter is more important because it helps solve an individual’s immediate needs in their home.
“That’s why the NRM for a long time has been telling you that dong lobo (development) is ours but Lonyo (wealth) is mine and you should focus on that to chase poverty out of your homes. I thank parents for sending their children here to study and the program will continue,” H.E Museveni further noted.
In his maiden tour on investment and wealth creation in the Acholi sub-region under the theme: “Securing your future through wealth creation and shared prosperity”, President Museveni also visited the four-year-old MK Modern Organics and natural products factory located in Omoro district owned by Rotarian Pascal Osire.
Mr. Osire told the President that since 2019 the facility has transformed the lives of over 200 youths who have since been employed including school-going children who come for skills during holidays. He said they have embarked on setting up a coffee nursery to distribute seedlings to the community.
“Your vision lives in me. I have decided to make myself a leader of the revolution of economic empowerment and wealth creation. We want to make poverty our number one enemy and Uganda will be a better country for everyone,” Mr. Osire told the President, adding that they project to make 3.5 billion shillings this year of which 960 million shillings will be profits.
President Museveni thanked Mr. Osire who he said is now a rich man for the vision to invest in what has not been recommended even among the seven activities of wealth creation.
“He has brought the idea of chilli on a big scale earning him 10 million shillings per acre per year. This is much better than cotton, tobacco, and tea which have been problems in the West Nile region where people grow a lot of tobacco and cotton, but they remain poor,” H.E Museveni told the gathering.
The seven activities always emphasized to make money when they are done on a big scale include; coffee, fruits, food crops, zero grazing dairy cattle, poultry, pigs, and fish farming. These according to the President enable the family, with four acres, to be prosperous.
Regarding the elections in 2026, the President asked Ugandans to remain calm until the right time.
“Thank you very much for proposing to support your old man but let’s handle that at the right time. Let us cook and after we serve the food. Don’t bring plates when we are cooking. Let’s concentrate on chasing poverty,” Gen Museveni advised after information by Omoro district LC5 Chairman Peter Okello Douglas Okao that his entire district of 12 sub-counties, 3 town councils, 65 parishes, and 468 villages had agreed that H.E Museveni returns as their sole candidate come 2026 Presidential elections.
“In a bid to consolidate the support and the achievements of the mighty NRM party, the people of Omoro district have taken a decision that without consulting you, you become our sole candidate in the year 2026 and beyond because you are able and you have championed peace,” Mr Okao told the President.
Mr Okao informed the President that they have embarked on mass mobilization of the population towards securing the future through wealth creation in two ways; addressing food security and focusing on the commercialization of agriculture. Mr Okao said the Parish Development Model will be the game changer in this effort.
The Prime Minister, Rt Hon. Robinah Nabbanja informed the President that her office is on course as regards the implementation of the fourth Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF4) Project, to focus on chasing poverty among the population instead of infrastructure development that has taken the lion’s share in the past NUSAF programs.
“Because the poverty levels are higher than other parts of the country,” the Prime Minister said.
The President also visited Mr James Ochan, an ordinary farmer in Paicho along the Gulu-Kitgum road and Gulu Country Agro-processing farm which also has a training facility for smallholder farmers. H.E Museveni also toured around the farm and got oriented by the owner Mr Kidega who says he earns 300 million shillings from his Friesian cows.