By Abubaker Kirunda & Tausi Nakato
The Minister for Presidency, Ms Milly Babalanda, has said no petitions will be delivered to President Museveni during the 38th National Resistance Movement (NRM) anniversary slated for Friday, January 26, 2024.
The annual celebrations, to be held at St John Secondary School, Wakitaka in Jinja Northern City Division, marks 38 years since the then rebel outfit led by Mr Museveni toppled President Tito Okello Lutwa.
The last of such celebrations in Busoga Sub-region were held in Mayuge District in 2014 as the ruling party marked 28 years in power. Last year’s event was held in Kakumiro District.
Ms Babalanda, while meeting leaders from the twelve Districts of Busoga Sub-region, instead directed whoever has a petition to hand it over to Jinja Resident District Commissioner, Mr Richard Gulume, in advance for delivery to the Presidency.
“On that day, nobody will be allowed to make individual demands to the President; all those with petitions should instead hand them over to Mr Gulume so that I take them to the President in advance,’’ Ms Babalanda said on Saturday.
Her directive follows a demand by several leaders to be given a chance to address Mr Museveni before he takes to the dais, and share with him the problems they are facing in their respective districts.
But Ms Babalanda said because the function is national in character, the President may not be able to give spontaneous answers at the venue.
According to Ms Babalanda, delivering petitions to the President prior “will help him internalise and make pronouncements on as he makes his speech”.
Ms Babalanda further asked the leaders to mobilise people to turn up in big numbers and erode the President’s dismal performance during the last general elections.
The NRM candidate only won in three of the 12 Districts of Busoga Sub-region, including Kaliro, Buyende and Namutumba, while National Unity Platform flag bearer, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine, won in nine Districts.
Mr Elijah Kagoda, the Kaliro District LC5 chairperson, said the President could consider holding national celebrations in the Districts in which he has more support “to act as a motivation”.
The Jinja City Mayor, Mr Peter Kasolo, who subscribes to the opposition National Unity Platform, asked people to put aside their political prejudices and support the function.
The Jinja City Deputy Speaker, Ms Sirina Kyakuwaire, however, described as “an act of unfairness” for people to be denied the chance to interact with President Museveni face-to-face.
This comes as a number of fender roads in the vicinity of Wakitaka are being worked on to welcome the function.
The Jinja City NRM Executive, lead by Mr Dan Musinguzi, says it was not involved in the organisation of the function yet they are the host.
The Musinguzi-led team accused some Jinja District and NRM party officials of allegedly “monopolising” the function, which they say is outside their area of jurisdiction.