Ibrahim Abiriga, MP, (Member of Parliament) for Arua Municipality was witnessed by many people and also caught on video urinating on the flowers of the Ministry of Finance at the time of the tumultuous events of Togikwatako.
(Togikwatako is a Kiganda allusion to shun amending the Age Clause in the Constitution). Instead of being apologetic and being sorry for his dastardly action, the Arua MP was arrogant and dismissive of the whole episode. He was quoted as saying, “I was badly off; what did you want me to do?” Then, “What is wrong with that, anyway?”
Abiriga, now popularly known as “Abirigation”, has demonstrated a complete lack of good manners and behaviour in public. Moreover, as an MP, he is expected to be an example of the leadership that the NRM boasts of applying to public affairs. As a party, the NRM cannot extricate itself from the example of one of its “leaders”.
This comes at a time of important national events facing the country. Apart from the Togikwatako, we are in the period of celebrating the 55th Independence that we won from the British colonialists; some say that they bequeathed it to us.
Ugandan politicians often blame the British for a lot of the ills that they themselves are responsible for, but the British taught us the English cultural etiquette and left bye-laws which Kampala City is operating by.
That, Kampala Central City Authority (KCCA), has now slapped Abiriga with a case of violating the acceptable manner of public behaviour and being idle and disorderly, is most appropriate.
This attracts a fine in the KCCA court, but this is not enough according to the operating laws. As a “leader”, it would have been useful to charge Abiriga with a bigger offence that would make in mandatory that no “leader”, would imitate that kind of irresponsibility again.
At this level, it maybe significant for the NRM party to invoke its own disciplinary action – if there is any – where an MP of an important constituency like Arua Municipality, would be brought to book for errant behaviour. It would require that the party refer the case to his constituents with a view to recall him from Parliament.
It is evident within the NRM that there have been cases among its “leaders” which have been questionable; and they have gone with a small murmur, and sometimes with no mention of the false behavior, at all.
Abiriga’s case, being the manner of pubic exposure of his genitals, that it is, should pose a watershed mark that this “leadership” should take issue with and reign in such unacceptable instances. However, it is of note that this may fall within the ambit of NRM’s, not disturbing “sleeping” MPs as long as they “wake up to vote”. What a characterization!
That being the case, one wonders what kind of leaders the people of Uganda have. If from Abiriga’s level this goes on, it means that both at a higher level and below, acts of impunity go unchecked that are not publicly observed. Where some of the cases have surfaced, a standard reply from the culprits has been what Abiriga said, “What is wrong with that?”
The answer: everything! This is not Abiriga’s only act of impunity. Sometime ago, it was reported that a woman he had allegedly sired a child with made the matter publicly known such that he should take responsibility of his own progeny.
Abiriga is said to have asked for a DNA test, to which a doctor in Arua Hospital is reports to have given a sarcastic reply implying that Abriga was responsible; that he should own up.
If Abiriga can come up and do such a shameful act in the Capital city, what goes on with him in Arua, where he is the “boss”? It means that he flouts his authority with abandon.
That is not correct. A leader should behave in a manner that he is willing to be imitated; that is what it means to “lead”. However, a great number of NRM “leaders” have and are behaving otherwise.
And so the net effect of this is seen in many other areas. The most visible is the endemically rampant corruption in the use of public funds that the country has and is going through.
This abandon of stealing from the public coffers and diverting foreign donations to private accounts in foreign banks and off-shore accounts has demonstrated a high level of lack of political will to fight the graft.
The refrain again: “What is wrong with that?” Some of these “leaders” are known of saying that the leaders in the former regimes were “fools” not to have stolen; that they wasted their time in other pursuits like drunkenness and womanizing.
These are mere excuses these “leaders” are using to try to hide their moral decadence that they are leaving this country in.
It does not stop there! It is obvious in the manner that the Police are “failing” to solve cases of all kinds of impunity, that even the least practices eye, is able to observe.
This obvious “leadership” unwillingness to sort out matters for the public good, is now clearly shown in Abiriga’s actions: that nothing bad will be done about his excesses. Ditto all the other NRM “leaders”.