New Vision December 13, 2010
He has in the past received a doctorate of laws from Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota in the United States
FIRST, hearty congratulations to President Yoweri Museveni for having received a doctorate of laws from Uganda's most prestigious university, Makerere. To be precise, yet another doctorate, for it is not the first time that the President is receiving an honorary doctoral award.
He has in the past received a doctorate of laws from Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota in the United States and another from Mbarara University of Science and Technology, here in Uganda. The award, says a citation presented by Prof. Elly Sabiiti the Dean of Faculty of Agriculture, was a recognition of the President's outstanding achievements in the advancement of humanity, in particular his commitment to agriculture modernisation and value addition, education, science and technology, innovative leadership and women empowerment.
The citation further states that Museveni "has brought change in political and social economic terrain within the region. Uganda's economy has grown and poverty levels dropped by 20 per cent since 1992. He has provided a conducive policy environment for the growth of the agricultural sector which supports over 80 per cent of the rural Ugandans for their livelihood."
The citation also lauds Museveni for his achievements in the liberalisation of tertiary education, introduction of free primary and secondary education, affirmative action for girls that has significantly and raised the enrolment of girls in tertiary institutions. It also lauds his support for science education in Uganda, his globally acclaimed fight against HIV/Aids and his successful tenure as chairman, first of the Organisation of the African Unity from 1991 to 1992 and then of the Commonwealth in 2007.
It is not everyday that one receives an honorary doctorate from Makerere University; for Mak, as it is fondly called, is not in the habit of giving away such honours casually. Whatever else Mak may not be, it certainly has retained its status as one of Africa's greatest and most respected universities and whose doctoral awards, while few and far between, are certainly well deserved each time they are given.
After a stormy last few years, spiced with quite some controversy, the university is now enjoying a new lease of life thanks to the new vice chancellor - the youngest in recent history, being just 40 when he took office last year. Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba's entry has marked a new beginning for the old institution, with revolutionary changes and marked improvements registered across the board. This is certainly a university still going places, you can be sure.
As we congratulate the President, in many ways these are congratulations to Ugandans as a whole on the gigantic strides the nation has taken over the last two decades, moving from a failed state to a strong nation with a functional government and fast growing economy.
Prof. Sabiiti's citation is a fine summary of some of the great work that Museveni has accomplished over the last two decades and explains why there is a widespread hesitation at the thought of his retirement.
Had Museveni become President in better times, you suspect that Uganda would have been very far in terms of real development. But the truth is that given the rot that he inherited from his predecessors, his reign was from the very onset, cut out to be one of mostly reconstruction and rehabilitation - rebuilding the wall, as the Good Book would have put it. It is very much like taking over a collapsed company and all you do in the first few years is put it back on its feet, long before you even consider making it perform in the first place.
Many Ugandans sense that the nation has reached the critical point of recovery; that it is back on its feet and is now ready for the next phase --starting to walk. That is a very delicate stage that must be handled with care: you don't want to change the pilot just when the plane is ready for take-off. The pilot who moved the plane from the parking, through taxiing to take-off stage must of necessity be the one to guide it into the skies, especially since no one thought the plane would ever leave the parking spot.
Anyone with a knowledge of our long, difficult history will appreciate the far that we as Ugandans have come under Museveni and the National Resistance Movement (NRM). And the keen nose will by now have already smelt the coffee that is just around the corner.
They sense that Uganda is on the brink of a critical breakthrough into the big time and that the transition into that next stage must in no wise be interrupted by a change of power.
Now you understand why when Museveni asks, "You want another rap?', millions of Ugandans have only one answer: yee ssebo (yes sir)!!