“Appreciate President Museveni for the Peace and Transformation of Acholi,” Dr. Kenneth Omona Tells Northern Uganda

The Minister of State for Northern Uganda Affairs, Dr. Kenneth Omona has called upon the people of Northern Uganda to appreciate the achievements and contributions of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s government in bringing peace and transformation in the region. 

He also advised that they should support all the initiatives by the President aimed at bringing prosperity in Northern Uganda.

“When I was a student at Makerere university, the first time I got a greater appreciation of this region was when I would skip our lectures to come and do some work here with our President in pursuit of peace and stability. I moved to many of these places doing very risky assignments but it was necessary for us to bring peace and stability in this region. And when I see what I see now compared to that time, sometimes I feel very emotional. Let’s all thank President Museveni for bringing this peace and stability in the region and all of you who have embraced the government of NRM,” Dr. Omonasaid.

He made the remarks on Friday 19th April 2024, while presiding over the graduation ceremony of 584 students at Acholi Regional Presidential Skilling Hub in Gulu district. 

Dr. Omona underscored the need for parents to teach their children the history of their country in order toappreciate where they are going.

“Tell your children our past so that they can have a better appreciation of what they have in order forthem to become custodians of the peace and stability that we have now. Never take peace and stability for granted,” Dr. Omona added.

During the event, graduates received certificates in seven (7) employable vocational disciplines namely;Tailoring and design, Hairdressing and makeup, Building and Construction Practice, Carpentry & Joinery, Welding and metal fabrications, Bakery & Confectionery and Leather processing (shoe making). 

The minister congratulated the graduates and thanked President Museveni for the initiative. 

“This is a very great milestone in the journey of your transformation. The world is waiting out there to see your skills. I want to thank the President very much for this great innovation in the transformation of the country where even children who have not attained any formal education can become better citizens,” Dr. Omona said. 

Dr. Omona further stressed that the Office of the Prime Minister will continue to prioritise skilling the youths especially in Northern Uganda in various trades of their choice.

“When the cabinet passed the Northern Uganda Development Plan in May 2023, it prioritisedvocational skills and also emphasised giving start up for people who acquired skills only if it had funding challenges. I want to give assurance that under the NUSAF four, we are going to prioritise funding of these micro enterprises that give start-up capital to these youths who have finished these training sessions. And we are going to allocate a substantial amount and percentage of NUSAF four to go in for production,” Dr Omona assured the gathering, saying all this is driven by the fact that Acholi sub-region remains the poorest in Uganda at 67% followed by Karamoja which is 65%. 

He called upon all leaders in Northern Uganda and Acholi in particular to step up efforts and get out of this bad cycle of poverty.

“This is what I want every leader in the North here to do. As long as I work here, I will continue reminding you that it is a duty of all of us to ensure that we work very hard to uplift this region from poverty. Speak with clarity about the poverty in the region. It is very painful to know the truth but when you tell the truth, you will find the answer to this. All of you in the next six months, we will be coming to your home and asking you what you’re leading your people to do,” Minister Omona stressed.

He expressed gratitude to the Acholi Paramount Chief David Onen Acana II for being part of this journey of transformation.

The Acholi Paramount Chief David Onen Acana II thanked President Museveni for bringing the skilling hub in Acholi and appreciated the clan leaders for giving the land for establishment of the hub. 

He also appealed to the skilled youths to use social media well in marketing their work and avoid spreading hate speech.

The state House Comptroller Ms. Jane Barekyerevealed to the skilled graduates that in the next Financial Year, government plans to establish workshops in the districts that host the skilling Hubs to help them exercise their skills and earn from them. 

“The President is going to establish these workshops for you once the budget is approved so that you continue to work in groups, sell your products and proceed to do business in your respective districts,” Ms. Barekye said.

She further appealed to the youths to remain disciplined as they go out to put their skills into good use. 

The Member of Parliament-Aswa County, Hon. Wokorach Simon Peter pledged total support and that of fellow Members of Parliament towards the budget of establishing workshops for the youths to continue pursuing their vocational dreams.

The ceremony was also addressed by the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) Reserve Force Commander, Gen. Charles Otema Awany who thanked the NRM government for the peace in the region. 

He said the hub was established in a now peaceful Gulu, one of the areas that was once a hub of rebels who terrorised Northern Uganda, thus causing instability.

According to the chairperson Acholi Presidential Industrial Hub, Mr. Opio Christopher Ateker, the availability of skilling centres and four Acres Model Demonstration sites is essential in boosting wealth creation for Social Transformation and Sustainable Development because it reflects the balance between the job demand and availability.

“Skilling the Youth will result in significant impacts on Uganda’s job markets, some of the effects are already visible now especially the youths who completed intake one and two. In many parts of the sub-region, they are making money and are self-reliance and I believe the future impacts will make the situation much better,” Mr. Ateker said, adding that the skilling centres will have done a lot in shaping the behaviour of the community in various Districts since the youths are engage in more productive activities and making money instead of loitering around trading centres/urban centresrobbing people and betting.

He reiterated the Board’s commitment to continue sensitising and mobilising the community to send their children to get more skills from the Zonal Hub, including creating awareness on the four acres model in order to increase quality, and quantity of Agricultural production and productivity in the region.

Mr. Ateker also decried the rampant cases of encroachment to the hub land by the neighbouringcommunity and recommended that the property needs to be fenced. 

Ms. Amori Sheila from Omoro who acquired skills in tailoring was among the many who gave testimonies on how the initiative has transformed her life. 

Ms. Amori informed the guest of honour that after school, she approached her parents who mobilised500,000 shillings for her to begin a workshop.

“The skill achieved is helping me. I will not forget my grandfather President Museveni for changing my life. I have started my tailoring school and employing other girls who are helping me,” Amori said.

Mr. Okidi Bosco from Agago district said despite being a youth leader, he did not have any skill but upon joining the skilling school, he acquired skills in carpentry and he is now earning.

Another student Aryemo Prisline from Gulu City who did catering, informed the guests that after her 6 months training, she managed to begin her small business of making cakes in Gulu City and she is doing well.

Ms. Kwiyucwiny Agnes from Gulu City who acquired skills in hairdressing appreciated President Museveni for enabling her to get employed after skilling. She assured the gathering of her dream of starting her own saloon by the end of 2024 such that she offers employment to her fellow youths.

The Deputy Director Assessment and Certification- Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT), Dr. Michael Okumu thanked President Museveni for fulfilling his promise in the Manifesto of 2021-2026 and assured the graduates that the certificate offered is equivalent to that of Senior Four.

The ceremony attracted attendance from the regional Resident District and City Commissioners, District Chairpersons, parents, among others.