Dear Congress Men and Women,
Below is the written text of the address I made a while ago. Of course the delivery style brought in new ideas and points of emphasis and inversions of the pattern here and there, but the content was very much the same.
Opening Address at the UPC Youth Conference by Hon. Benson Obua-Ogwal, MP on 30th December 2011 at Sports View Hotel, Kireka
Mr. Chairman, my Hon. colleague MPs, the National Youth Leader, Key Party officials, and most importantly the Youth of UPC here gathered.
I thank the organisers of this meeting for putting together such a very important meeting. It is the first time in my memory to bring together our party youth from the whole country exclusively as youth. Before this we have only had regional youth meetings. I recognize Mr. Benson Ogwang who preceded me as NYL.
I also thank our development partners for the support they have always accorded the party.
I would like to thank the National Party Chairman, Maj. Rurangaranga, the Secretary General Hon. John Odit, Head of Mobilzation Hon. David Pulkol, the Deputy Spokesperson Moses Nuwagaba, the Press Secretary Robert Kanusu who together with many other party leaders and faithfuls have been doing their best to put the party on track by taking it away from Uganda House to the people where it really belongs. Unfortunately, the best form of appreciation they have received has been demonization and alleged sacking. I call it alleged because it is questionable and contestable. I thank Leonard Okello for mentoring so many of us during the NUSU days.
I feel privileged to have been chosen to perform the honorable task of opening this important event. This is a presidential function I have been asked to perform. I could not feel more honored than this, and that is why when I was requested to perform it, I set aside a very big district function that will bring all MPs, all LCV Executives and Councillors, LCLlll Chairpersons and Councillors, Sub-county Chiefs and District staff. That is how much I value this event today.
Am reliably informed that the Party President does not recognize this meeting. I am also informed that an SMS, purportedly from Hon. Fr. Jacinto Ogwal has been sent to most of you saying Cabinet considers this meeting illegal. If this meeting is illegal, then I prefer to be illegal. But nature abhors vacuum. So today, just for a few minutes, I am here to open this event as an undelegated Party President, because somehow somebody must bear that title here. They can go ahead and belittle and underestimate your power, but I honor you, the future of UPC.
Youths are very important to any party worth its salt, and any party that does not take its youth seriously is doomed to fail. It has no future. While you are here today, you need to deeply ponder whether you are really important, or feel important to your party or not. Whether you have been given you space or not. If not, you need to demand your space and occupy it.
At this point, let me give you a few characteristics of a youth:
- Youthfulness is nature’s gift
- Youth are proud of who they are
- The most powerful span of life (strength)
- They see beyond the horizon (the sky is not the limit)
- They see positive in every odd situation
- They are ambitious, have strong feeling to achieve
- They are courageous, do not fear
- They hate insult
- They are aggressive for their rights
- They know how to discharge their duties
- They fight injustice
- They always think of victory
Why the youth have been called here:
The NC made a resolution at the Ankrah Foundation in Mukono about the mobilization, recruitment and reactivating the youth participation as a vanguard for our party. The PP was directed to explore implementation of this.
The PP gave mandate to the National Youth Leader to explore what needed to be done.
NIMD also gave a grant for research, and the researcher is here to present her findings to you, so that your input can be incorporated as youth. The research covered among other things;
- history of youth leagues in UPC
- assessment of the current structure of UPC vis-a-vis youth
- lessons from sister parties, ANC, India National Congress, CCM
You are expected to hold free discussions on these issues as youth and to make recommendations, because this affects you directly. Anyone who is fighting this meeting is against the youth of this party, and against the youth of this country. It is sad that people like Patrick Aroma have allowed themselves to demobilize this meeting. We can reliably inform you that last night he was in Lira mobilizing some youth to come and disband this meeting. Thank God that the youth who did not know exactly why they were being brought to Kampala have felt abused on realizing the importance of this meeting. I hope my young brother Aroma is now sitting in this hall as a converted person willing to peacefully listen and participate, otherwise I’d recommend that he is not allowed to sit here for security reasons. He has to accept publicly that this meeting is legal and good for the party, otherwise he has no business here right now!
This meeting is taking place when a lot has happened in the Party within the last few weeks:
- Locking of UH by a section of youth who could not stomach what was going on any more,
- Promises to handle the genuine concerns of these youth have not implemented hitherto,
- The leadership has since run amok sacking everybody who dares questions anything and refuses to conform to its whims.
I suggest that before you disperse from here today, you should spend sometime to discuss the petition that these youth crafted and submitted to NC and pronounce yourselves on it.
But also take note that the conference was being sabotaged by the PP right from the start, just like he successfully did for women. For instance upto yesterday the National Youth Leader was instructed to officially write and dissociate herself from this meeting, otherwise, she should not use her official title. I hope that is not already tantamount to another sacking.
Youth of the Congress, I urge you not to agonize, but to organize
We can no longer burry our heads in sand and imagine we can be a party of the future without giving you the youth a say, your space!!
In 2016 there projections indicate that we will have 5,000,000 new, young voters. Who is more well positioned to reach out to these youth than you the youth? ICT and Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Skype, etc are highly patronized by youth, and they have their own lingo now. We have a duty to empower them to carry out this task.
Finally, I am happy that the first activity in the UPC Strategic Plan on page 37 is to organize a national youth convention. Today has marked a good beginning.
Today, I would like to repeat the public apology I made recently for being part of those who literally forced Otunnu back to Uganda, and ultimately he became the PP. I deeply regret this disastrous move, and this forum is appropriate for me to reiterate that.
I say this for God and my Country.