Youth against removal of their secretariat
Youth Members of Parliament (MPs) have said that merging the National Youth Council (NYC) Secretariat with other special interest group secretariats will lead to emergence of radical youth organisations to fill the vacuum left.
Cabinet resolved to merge, mainstream and rationalise government agencies, commissions and authorities.
Hon. Edson Rugumayo (NRM, Western) and Hon. Phiona Nyamutoro (NRM, National Female Representative) together with the leadership of the NYC petitioned the Committee on Gender on Tuesday, 29 August 2023 over the merger.
Speaking under the umbrella body, Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs, Rugumayo said that removal of the NYC Secretariat will lead to uncoordinated and brief case bodies whose objectives may not be in the interest of the vision of the country in building a patriotic and Pan African youth population.
“In the early years when the National Youth Council did not have enough funding, youth organisations such as Uganda Youth Network that existed at the time had taken over the space of the council, where they would mobilise youth groups and end up radicalising them,” said Rugumayo.
He said that this will in the long run affect the political orientation of young Ugandans.
“Important to note is that the political history of our country characterised by manipulation and misuse of youths, the NYC secretariat has always focused on the nature of political tooling and engagement youth are absorbed into,” added Rugumayo.
Rugumayo pointed out removal of the NYC Secretariat will further affect the progress of government programmes for youths such as the Youth Livelihoods Programme (YLP).
“With the current cut in the funding to activities of National Youth Council and now the proposed merging, it will be difficult for NYC to mobilise youth with YLP funds to pay back, hence affecting the recovery rate which had improved with adequate funding,” he said.
Nyamutoro said that instead of removing the NYC Secretariat, government should increase funding to the council arguing that it is through the youth structures that majority of the prominent leaders have acquired leadership training.
“It baffles me that up to today, even with the existence of an independent youth council, we still struggle to have issues of young people prioritised and I cannot imagine a situation where the council now has to struggle in a secretariat with other special interest groups,” Nyamutoro said.
The Chairperson of the NYC, Jacob Eyeru said that removal of the council secretariat will greatly affect the quality of leadership in the country.
“It is impossible for me to imagine a country where the ministers have never had any authority to decide on anything and they just land into ministries. We end with people who never understand processes and governance, and they have to learn on job, delaying service delivery,” said Eyeru.
He added that the merger was decided on the basis of saving money and yet the NYC has been allocated a paltry Shs800 million in the 2023/2024 financial year.
“Unfortunately, Cabinet cannot speak anymore; the ministers of youth cannot make an argument on the Floor of Parliament because it seems like you are going against the Cabinet position. So, the only hope we have is this House where the young people’s voices can be heard. I believe that we have hope that this will not pass,” said Eyeru.
Hon. Charles Bakkabulindi (NRM, Workers Representative) said that the committee supports the agenda of young people.
“I am a member of the ad-hoc committee on these mergers and we have made recommendations against these mergers. Committee members support you. We were once youths so we know the pain you are going through,” said Bakkabulindi.
Hon. Phyllis Chemutai (NRM, Kapchorwa District) however, challenged the youth leaders to ensure proper utilisation of government programmes.
“Some youths get funds and misuse, they just eat it and disappear. Is that not a bigger problem than the mergers? The problem is youth mind-set,” said Chemutai.