President Yoweri Museveni has urged Ugandans in particular and the people of Africa in general to work towards fulfilling and achieving the vision and mission of independence freedom fighters on the African continent.
He said that the aims of the freedom fighters embedded securing the independence of the continent in order to get it onto the democratic path, ensuring the economic and political integration of Africa for its economic prosperity and strategic security as well as safeguarding the African culture and heritage.
In his New Year 2018 message to the nation last evening that was relayed live from his country home in Rwakitura by media houses in the country, President Museveni said that Ugandans who have their nation at heart should cherish and support the fast-tracking of the East African Community (EAC) and the Region's political integration as well as the integration of the African continent integration vowing that he and other Pan-Africanists will never give up.
He stressed that the economic and political integration of the African continent and the removal of the artificial colonial boundaries is the only sure way to guarantee the future and safety of the continent and its people.
President Museveni castigated members of the political and religious groups in Uganda as well as members of the academia and the media, for spending much of their useful time and energies on trivialities instead of discussing ways of securing the future of the continent, its destiny and identity.
"Some religious leaders are arrogant and speak as if they are authorities on everything while many of the media houses work for foreign interests who are either not bothered about the future of the continent or are working to bring the continent down," he observed.
Mr. Museveni said that many people are never bothered to promote the integration of the EAC while others, today and in the past, have opposed it yet regional integration would work to strengthen the region and guarantee the economic prosperity and political stability of the East African region.
"When Mwalimu Nyerere was promoting the integration of the EAC, many people opposed him and said he was power hungry. Mwalimu is long gone and we are here so it is the current and future generation that would benefit from the integration if it had materialised.
But as usual, the greedy and short sighted players could not see this," he noted.
"If the East Africa Community had materialised in 1963, East Africa would be at the level of India. Definitely, there would never have been Amin, genocide in Rwanda, endless conflicts in Burundi and Sudan because they would be solved easily," the President said.
Mr. Museveni singled out insecurity as one major challenge that faced Uganda in 2017 particularly the killing of 27 women in a wave of urban crime. He attributed it to the infiltration of the Police by criminals, lack of enough forensic experts to handle sophisticated criminal elements as well as lack of cameras on streets and highways. He, however, said that security agencies have done all they can and arrested most of the killers who will be prosecuted.
He assured the country that efforts are underway to put cameras on streets and highways. He also said that another form of insecurity had come up in the form of bad fishing on Uganda's water bodies that had depleted the country's lakes of fish leading to the collapse the fishing industry in the country.
"For selfish and greedy reasons, some people had killed the fishing industry which is one of our ancient industries. I had to intervene and deploy the Army on the lakes.
We must now agree on who should be on the lake; why and how because this is a national resource like any other and we can't allow the continued flooding of the lakes by anybody that wishes," he explained.
"Those who say all people should be allowed to be on the lake, are enemies of Uganda and should be treated as such; and those using it for political capital should even be banned from leadership positions for some time," he added. He, however, said that the Army must also perfect their way of work and desist from harassing Ugandans. He stressed that Ugandans need to know that the cause of everything is bad fishing methods and should focus on stopping that.
Regarding the agriculture sector, he said that government will prioritise irrigation to mitigate the effects of drought by supporting a number of irrigation schemes, promote the use of solar water pumps which will be manufactured locally and also ensure that Ugandan farmers are in agriculture all year round.
He emphasized that Ugandans need to do away with subsistence agriculture and embrace profit-oriented commercial agriculture oriented which he said was the only way to get out of household poverty.
He commended National Resistance Movement (NRM) MPs for continuously supporting the country's development agenda overtime. He assured them that their efforts are not in vain.
"I salute the 317 MPs that supported us in our recent cause to continue with our prosperity, for standing the intimidation, maligning, harassment and standing firm for their country. They will be proved right. This is the same way the NRM members of the 7th Parliament stood with the people to solve electricity scarcity. The 28 FRELIMO fighters fought Idi Amin and the 43 combatants with 27 guns, started the revolutionary struggle and I must salute all those Ugandans of good will," he said.
Turning to the health sector, the President said that Uganda had made tremendous success in the sector that has seen the cause of death, which has been largely from non-communicable diseases, drastically brought down as most of the diseases have been controlled through mass immunisation. He also commended the Ugandan medical professionals for promptly and professionally reacting and halting the ever-emerging health epidemics noting that their efforts must be appreciated.