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MPs FORUM: Arua is a melting pot of issues

Akbar Godi Hussein,  Arua Municipality

Arua Municipality is located in Arua District. It’s the only municipality in West Nile region. And it’s an economically vibrant area—with two border posts; one at Sudan’s and the other at Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s border.


My constituency is a combination of all trades. It’s purely a cosmopolitan constituency with various peoples and several religions. We have temples, churches and mosques. We also have people from all over Uganda and neighbouring countries.

Some people are from Sudan, others come from the DRC. In fact, my constituency is purely pre-occupied with businesses here and there. In Arua, due to the land shortages, many people have resorted to business as a mode of livelihood.

But, we also have people-though few, who deal in commercial farming— and these people mainly, concentrate on poultry farming. So that’s the constituency I represent in Parliament. I remember I was still in university studying Law at Kampala International University—in my second year, when I received the encouragement from people that I should stand and represent them.
I responded positively to this call.

I was excited. People in Arua received me very well. They looked at me as the voice which can ably articulate their issues at the national level. And here I was. I didn’t always have all the money to run the campaigns, but each and everything was provided for by my people.

When it came to public address systems for example, they gave me more than I wanted. They provided their support in plenty. I therefore took this call seriously. My road to Parliament was a stiff contest—with six people who had the money to manipulate the people.

But as they were giving the masses the money, I was on the other hand, giving the message—something that sent me to Parliament with the highest margin ever in Arua politics—70%. I had an 8,000 vote margin above my nearest rival in the polls. And when I took the office, I didn’t forget my people, for they really saw that I was the right person for the job.

So, I inherited the usual problems of differences that often rock Arua here and there. These are normally galvanised by religious sects, businessmen, and the porous borders that freely let in people from other countries.

Arua being a porous area, there are many people who come in and go out unhindered. This unrestricted movement also fuels smuggling and other rogue activities. But we are taking measures to ensure that this fragile nature of Arua is tamed.

So, my first initiative was to bridge these gaps—especially that of religion. I preached reconciliation right from the start of my campaigns up to the time I was elected and thereafter. My message was simple. If you vote me because I am a Muslim, then keep your votes. But if you vote because of services and harmony, then your vote is welcome.

This message helped me harmonise these tensions. I started to meet all religious leaders in Arua, and every after these meetings, a way forward on how to rebuild our torn unity was reached. Then the next agenda was to put Arua on the map of Uganda.

This elevation of Arua had been missing for sometime ever since the days of CA in 1994 when Arua had one of the most firebrand of politicians in Parliament—Zubair Atamvaku (RIP). From that time, no one was good enough for Arua until they discovered me. And I have restored the lost glory of Arua.

I have discussed with businessmen on how best we can transform Arua. I have brought bus owners on board—mainly urging them to provide the best services for our people. In fact, this is already evident in most Arua buses—like the ‘Nile’ buses—where customer care is exemplary.

 

So the other thing remaining now is to encourage people to form SACCOs, so we can administer funds to them in order to improve their household incomes. We are also undertaking measures to ensure that we address the high failure rates in our schools by providing text books, lobbying for pay rises for our teachers, and also urging education officers to improve on the housing of our teachers.

However, I have been frustrated by the District Education Officers who don’t want to transfer teachers. How can someone stay at a particular school for over 25 years? This is not progressive at all. We need change. The same thing can be connected to President Museveni who doesn’t want to deliver on his promises.

We have always told Museveni about the need to tarmac Arua Airfield—which is the second biggest and busiest airfield in Uganda after Entebbe, but he has not done it. Even the water problem is still alarming in Arua. And besides the water, the issue of electricity is still a headache in Arua, and the whole West Nile. Something must be done. We in FDC have already started on a roadmap to effect these developments, and cause change not only in Arua but the entire country.

As recorded BY DAVID TASH LUMU

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