President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who is also the Commander In Chief of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) has today commissioned a Marine Pier at the Sustainable Base in Ntokoro, Mayuge District.
“I congratulate the Commandant of the Marine Brigade for building this Brigade, which started as a small force and is now growing. I congratulate you for building the training centres in Butiaba, the other one near Entebbe, now you have also got this one,” Gen Museveni said.
The President explained that the Marine Brigade is very vital in ensuring the security of water bodies.
“20 per cent of Uganda is under fresh water, so it is good that some of it is on the borders with Tanzania, Kenya, and Congo. Therefore, it has a lot of security implications. These boats have always had some good capacity; they are “eyes” that see some distance, but we are also planning to have “eyes” based on shore. We shall be able to have surface radars which can see in the lakes and then communicate with these boats,” he said.
Gen. Museveni further urged the Marine officers to study the whole history of naval Warfare to enhance their capacity in dealing with water security matters.
“When I was watching your formations, although we don’t have a big ocean, it’s good for you as Marine people to study the whole history of naval Warfare; how people fight on water. Your officers should know this history since you are our specialists on water matters,” President Museveni said.
“There’s a group which I created, the Fisheries Protection Unit. There are some sorts of stories about that unit about corruption and other claims,” the President added, before being assured by Bunya County West Member of Parliament, Hon. Aggrey Bagiire that the officers reformed, and are now doing a good job in combating bad fishing practices on lakes.
President Museveni also asserted that to ensure good governance in Uganda, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government created political power among Ugandans that would enable them to defend themselves against injustice.
“To be sure that people are not squeezed, and to be sure of good governance, we said that you must defend yourselves by electing your leaders, not anybody; the LC1, LC II, LCIII, and LCV, these are your people. We elect them to defend us against any misbehaviour by anybody. If you say they have stolen your money or what, I also blame you that you elected badly,” he noted.
On the issue of creating a special program to alleviate poverty in Busoga as raised by the 3rd Deputy Prime Minister, Rt Hon. Rukia Nakadama, President Museveni said he will go back to the region and discuss the issue.
“I gave you my medicine for poverty in 1995 when I made a tour here. I told you people with four acres or less, I recommend the seven activities to you. Acre number one clonal coffee, the second acre put fruits, acre number three put grass for zero grazing cows, acre number four put food crops and in the backyard put poultry. For those who are not Muslims and traditional Banyankore, you can also rear pigs, then fish farming for those who are near swamps. That was my medicine for the people of four acres or less. And in the Manifesto of 1996 of the NRM that is what we put there,” he said.
“Then we said Uganda needs other products which don’t have the same high value if you do them on a small scale but if you do them on a big scale, they also give you good money, what we call extensive agriculture where maize, sugarcane, cotton and tea fall, people like Museveni who look after indigenous Ankore cattle, and tobacco-like in West Nile can make money. But now Abasoga here, you never listened to me, and you decided to go and carry out maize and sugarcane growing on a small scale. That is where the problem is. The people who have listened to us, like those in Kalangala have done well; these are people who came just, long after our programs of Operation Wealth Creation, and they are getting good income. In Masaka, people listened to our advice, and they are growing coffee more and more.”
On the issue of land compensation where the Marine barracks is seated, which was a landing site, the President said it’s a simple matter, though it needs an explanation.
“Yes, the residents were bona fide occupants, but they cannot stop the government from establishing a barracks, but there’s a law which you use to do it. They can either buy by negotiations according to the government evaluation or if you don’t want to sell, the government can take it over by compulsory acquisition,” President Museveni said.
“I was not aware that there was this controversy. Now that I know, this is simple. What I encourage is that the Marine Force Commander should meet and negotiate with the locals. Therefore, I kindly request that we support these barracks because this place is well selected based on a professional and scientific point of view. When I came here, I found it a very good place. Now the issue is good compensation but also give the barracks enough land because they may need slightly more than that.”
The 3rd Deputy Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Rukia Nakadama, who is also the Mayuge District Woman Member of Parliament, suggested that the government needs to provide seedlings to farmers in Busoga as was the case during the Operation Wealth Creation program.
“The Parish Development Model (PDM) doesn’t allow people of Busoga to secure seedlings so that they execute your message. So, I request that we be given a special intervention like giving seedlings to our people.”
However, the President explained that the reason the government came up with PDM was because people were complaining that the OWC people were sharing the seedlings among themselves and that the seedlings were expensive yet substandard.
“So, we told them that money is here, you buy the seedlings yourselves, and we calculated Shs1m as a starting point for each beneficiary.”
The Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs, Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja, thanked the President for establishing the Marine Brigade as part of his long-term strategic vision for the development of this country.
“Your Excellency, as Defence and security fraternity under your leadership and headship as Commander in Chief, we thank you sincerely for consistently enhancing our capabilities under competing national priorities. You have enabled us to actively respond to threats to our national and regional security.”
The Joint Chief of Staff of UPDF, Maj. Gen. Leopold Kyanda, who represented the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen. Wilson Mbasu Mbadi, congratulated the Marine Brigade Commander, Brig Gen. Michael Nyarwa and his team for their tireless efforts in building and expanding the capacity and capabilities of the Marine Brigade.
“Your Excellency, in your inaugural speech on the 29th of January 1986, you said that no one should think that what is happening today is merely a change of guards but a fundamental change. The fundamental change sir from the military perspective was to professionalize the army into a well-trained, disciplined and equipped force,” he said.
“The UPDF today witnessed a significant development in its unwavering commitment to enhancing our capacity and capabilities for the efficient and effective attainment of the UPDF’s constitutional mandate and mission. This is in line with one of the CDF’s strategic priorities of capacity enhancement that involves the acquisition, refurbishment, and maintenance of our military equipment. This deliberate effort will enable the Marine Brigade to secure our waters, conduct search and rescue operations and protect high-profile targets such as wagon ferries, cargo ships, and fuel tankers effectively and efficiently.”
Maj Gen. Kyanda further noted that as UPDF leadership, they recognize the great leadership of President Museveni and the strategic guidance he gives to the UPDF towards professionalising the force and building a strong Cadre leadership.
“Your Excellency, we have confidence that this Marine base will serve not only as a facility for vessel testing but also training and aimed at aligning skills for sustaining vital assets and safeguarding equipment in the support of search and rescue operations and ensuring navigational security to promote commerce between Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.”
The Commandant of the Marine Brigade, Brig Gen. Michael Nyarwa welcomed the President to the Marine base and thanked him for the guidance he has given to them all this time.
“We can only promise sir, that we will fulfil our values, one of them is loyalty, the other one is teamwork and of course making sure that we fill the gap where it is required to support our services.”
The event was also attended by the UPDF leadership, Mayuge district leaders, and religious leaders among others.