The New Vision in its lead article today quoted Information Minister Kabakumba Masiko as saying that the proceeds from oil would be used for long-term infrastructure projects.
“One thing that should be clear is that oil money is not in any way going to be used for recurrent expenditures like those,” she said, referring to reports in Russia that Uganda would pay for six fighter jets (at more than Shs640 billion) with oil revenues from its newly-found petroleum deposits in western Uganda. “It is only going to be used for solid permanent infrastructure like roads energy, science and technology.” However, personally, I think it should not be a rule that all the oil money should be used for infrastructural projects like roads, etc.
This is because if the figures being given by the companies prospecting for Uganda’s oil are anything to go by, Ugandans are literally sitting on oil deposits worth billions, not of shillings, but of US dollars.
Now, if all these billions of dollars are put into road projects, I can only predict that Uganda’s roads will be of standards and quality incomparable to those in Western Europe and Japan. But if Ugandan taxpayers can finance road projects worth more than a trillion shillings (and most of the money remains unused), how can one say that oil money also would go into roads?
Actually the same taxpayers footed the entire bill of the Chogm preparations, which has been put at a colossal Shs500 billion! What I mean is that even without oil, Uganda probably even without donor support, does have all the money it needs to finance these so-called development projects.
In recent months, what most people have been worried about is that the oil money would be eaten by a small clique of the political elite at the expense of masses of poverty-stricken Ugandans.
But now that there are these reports that the oil money would be used to buy state-of- the-art military jets, I think it is positive news that should not overly send the government on the defensive.
I can confidently say that everyone- including the poorest woman in Bududa – would smile with pride on hearing the roar of those jets in the skies. We all feel proud if we have a strong defence system akin to that of the Amin era, (which was actually the pride of all Africans by the way).
Nostalgic stories abound of how everyone would cheer on hearing the roars of Idi Amin’s MIGs as they rolled through the city skies every Independence Day.
Since then, there have been no MIGs or fighter planes on display – they are not fashionable enough to be put on display. Personally, I feel ashamed to say it but I have never physically seen a fighter plane, of course apart from the ones I see on TV.
I am not alone, because I know there are millions of us – probably you inclusive. When did you last see or have you ever seen a jet fighter plane fly over you?
Any wonder then that people no longer attend Independence Day celebrations on October 9 like it used to be the case during Amin’s regime? And mark you that were a time when the economy was not as strong as it is today. Now how can you expect people to be proud of their country?
So, as soon as the oil starts flowing, let’s get the most modern military hardware we can find so that every child will take pride in the country’s military. In any case, there is nothing new about this because most of the oil producing countries are also military superpowers.